ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Political Women in History: The Grimké Sisters

Updated on March 10, 2008

Pre-Feminist Feminists

Abolitionism is a political movement to end slavery. It was prominent in the United States during the 19th Century, before, during, and after the Civil War. A lot of women joined the abolitionist party, as a sort of precursor to the women’s movements that would follow. Interestingly, abolitionist men didn’t have a problem with women working to support the cause, but still didn’t allow them into most conventions and meetings.

Sarah and Angelina Grimké are two of the most famous female abolitionists from the 19th Century. They were from a slaveholding family, but spoke out and wrote in support of abolition. The sisters became the first female representatives of the American Anti-Slavery Society to tour and speak to audiences of both men and women. They defended their rights as women to free speech from within the abolitionist movement.

Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society in 1851
Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society in 1851

The sisters continued their work in the movement by relying on their religious devotion, which shows up in their writings. If you read examples of the Grimké sisters’ writing, you will see a critique of the relationship between state, church, and family. The sisters grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, where their father was a legislator and judge. When he trained his sons for the law, he included his daughters in the exercises although they were only to receive formal educations that were traditional for girls (no Greek, Latin, or philosophy).

Injustices of Slavery

Both Sarah and Angelina were sensitive to the injustices of slavery. Sarah broke the law by teaching slaves how to read; and, Angelia held regular prayer meetings for her family’s slaves.

In 1821, Sarah went to Philadelphia to live among Quakers because she was impressed by their simplicity, piety, and refusal to own slaves. In 1829, Angelina joined her sister. While Sarah made a commitment to boycott all products made by slavery, Angelina joined the Philadelphia Female Antislavery Society.

Angelina wrote a pamphlet, An Appeal to the Christian Women of the South, which was popular and distributed widely. However, it was publicly burned in Charleston, the sisters’ hometown.

Touring as Agents

When the American Anti-Slavery Society organized a group of “Agents” to tour and speak about slavery, Angelina and Sarah Grimké were among them. Beginning in late 1836, both began speaking to women in private New York City parlors. By the end of the year, their audiences had grown so large that they had to hold their lectures in churches to accommodate everyone.

The sisters moved on to Boston in the middle of 1837, where intense debates between abolitionists were already in progress. Sarah wrote a series of essays that ended up as a pamphlet, Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Women. In summer of 1837, a “Pastoral Letter” was published by ministers of Massachusetts, attacking the politically active Grimké sisters as unwomanly. The sisters had always criticized slavery in the context of their religions faith; but after this attack, they began to claim that women were moral individuals with as much right to take political positions as men had.

The term feminist was not yet in use, but feminist ideas definitely shaped the beliefs of Sarah and Angelina Grimké.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      ??????? 

      6 years ago

      I am learning about the grimkes sisters the grimkes sisters have a lot of imformation

    • profile image

      kreamy597bizarre 

      6 years ago

      they don`t look nothing like in my book

    • profile image

      casper 

      7 years ago

      i think every one should have done what they did to free the slaves

    • profile image

      labs 

      7 years ago

      i have to do a national history project on the grmke sisters they are so interestiing

    • profile image

      ?????? 

      8 years ago

      IM DOING ME HISTORY DAY PROGECT ON THE GRIMKE SISTERS AND THE ARE VERY INTERSTING TO LEARN ABOUT THERE IS SOOOOOOOO MUCH INFORMATION ABOUT THEM AND THEIR LIVES. SO I WOULD DEFENETLY RECOMED THE GRIMKE SISTERS AS A TOPIC.

    • profile image

      SHOOOSHOO 

      8 years ago

      wow is all i can say.

    • profile image

      John 

      8 years ago

      THEY. ARE. FUGLY.

    • profile image

      janeth 

      8 years ago

      theii are ugly.. haha

    • profile image

      Dominique1 

      8 years ago

      Im doing a report on them..... they look freaky but their awsome 4 doing what they did

    • profile image

      adrian 

      8 years ago

      im excited to read about this girls because im doin a report on them.=D

    • profile image

      yemiiin scaglemabarchi 

      8 years ago

      they are really intersting

    • profile image

      anna 

      8 years ago

      I am moved by what the sisters did during the Civil War to help both the women and the slaves.

    • Lisa HW profile image

      Lisa HW 

      9 years ago from Massachusetts

      I loved this Hub and am glad to learn about the Grimke sisters. The story of these women deserves a lot more "press" than it has apparently gotten. I have a blog devoted to women, and I missed the Grimke sisters as additions to women in history.

      Some of the comments here have cracked me up, though. :) Good Lord, ladies (who commented earlier), must it always be about pretty faces? LOL (The sister with the print outfit looks like the late William Bendix, actor. :))

    • Eaglekiwi profile image

      Eaglekiwi 

      9 years ago from -Oceania

      Great hub , no longer can I say history bores me . I loved learning about these two ladies ,wow!! now there was inner strength huh....great for me too ,since I am not American (but hubby is from Pa) its great to hear about American women (for a change) lol...to your best life -ekiwi

    • profile image

      Kayla :) 

      9 years ago

      i think they are really amazing

      i don't think that i could ever do what they did

      but they are really ugly lol :)

    • profile image

      Alexi 

      9 years ago

      whoah. I can't gt past their face. i mean their totally cool and erthing but they still freak me out... yikes.

    • profile image

      april 

      9 years ago

      i love th whole story on them. im doing a history project over them...im converting there story into a childrens book.ha.

    • profile image

      kaia  

      9 years ago

      I am doing a histery paper on the grimkes and they are so cool

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 

      10 years ago from Georgia

      I can't say that I've heard of the Grimke sisters until now. They look scary. Ha

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)