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Wed, 02.20.1805

Angelina Emily Grimké, Abolitionist born

Angelina Grimke

*Angelina Emily Grimké was born on this date in 1805.  She was a white-American political activist, women's rights advocate, and supporter of the women's suffrage movement.

She and her sister Sarah Moore Grimké became abolitionists.  While raised in Charleston, South Carolina, Angelina and her sister spent their entire adult lives in the North.  Between 1835, Angelina Grimke greatest fame worked with William Lloyd Garrison, who published a letter of hers in his anti-slavery newspaper, The Liberator.  In May 1838, she gave a speech to abolitionists with a hostile, noisy, stone-throwing crowd outside the hall. The essays and speeches she produced in that period were insightful arguments for ending slavery and advancing women's rights.  

Drawing her views from natural rights theory (as outlined in the Declaration of Independence), the United States Constitution, Christian beliefs in the Bible, and her childhood memories of the cruel slavery and racism in the South, Grimké proclaimed the injustice of denying freedom to any man or woman.  She was particularly eloquent on the problem of racial prejudice. When challenged to speak in public to mixed audiences of men and women in 1837, she and her sister fiercely defended women's right to make speeches and participate in political discourse.  

In May 1838, Angelina married Theodore Weld, an abolitionist; they were married in Philadelphia by a black and white minister.  Although Weld was said to have supported Grimké's desire to remain politically active after their marriage, Grimké eventually retreated to a life of domesticity due to failing health. Sarah lived with the couple in New Jersey, and the sisters continued to correspond and visit with their friends in the abolitionist and emerging women's rights movements. They operated a school in their home and later a boarding school at Raritan Bay Union.  

At the school, they taught the children of other abolitionists, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In the years after the Civil War, they raised funds to pay for the graduate education of their two mixed-race nephews, the sons of their brother Henry W. Grimké. The sisters paid Archibald Henry Grimké and Rev. Francis James Grimké to attend Harvard Law School and Princeton Theological Seminary, respectively. Archibald became a lawyer and later an ambassador to Haiti, and Francis became a Presbyterian minister who married Charlotte Forten. Both became leading civil rights activists. Archibald's daughter, Angelina Weld Grimké, became a poet and author.  Angelina Emily Grimké died on October 26, 1879.  

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