The Grimke Sisters

Nick Wilson


The sisters were both born in Charleston, South Carolina (Angelina: Feb 20th, 1805 Sarah: Nov 26th, 1792) to a family of plantation owners. Both sisters disagreed with the slavery movement and also had an interest in giving women a more prominent role in society.


In 1821 Sarah Grimke moved to Philadelphia to join the Quaker movement and was joined by Angelina in 1829. They began networking with other anti-slavery and women's rights activists and eventually began writing.

In 1836 Angelina wrote an Appeal to the Christian Women of the South. This appeal was widely recognized by antislavery activist groups and the sisters were invited to the Agents' Convention of the American Anti-Slavery Society in NYC. They were the only women in attendance to the convention and they came to be known as the first women to join the antislavery movement.


On May 20th, 1837 the sisters, along with many people from the convention which they had recently attended, set out to spread the word of antislavery and women rights to women living in New England. The movement gained many supporters and spread all over the country and the women became were widely acknowledged.

The sisters continued to gain recognition through their speeches and continued to gain followers. Many people also opposed their movement and said that they were amazed at their audacity when calling upon groups of men and women to meet in one place. They would speak to crowds of nearly 1,500 about their antislavery campaign.


Once the Clergy of New England got word of the sisters boldness, he issued A Pastoral Letter of the General Association of Massachusetts to the Congregational Churches Under Their Care saying that when "A women assumes the place and tone of a man as a public reformer...her character becomes unnatural". Angelina responded with an Epistle to the Clergy of the Southern States and wrote many letters arguing her point of view on the subject matter. She eventually wrote a very successful book on Women's rights called Letters of Equality of the Sexes. This book contained the letters she wrote to the Clergy and discussed education reformation, equal wages, and other forms of discrimination against women. In that same year she became the first woman to speak before a legislative body when she presented an antislavery petition to a group of Massachusetts law makers.


The sisters gave their last speech in 1838 shortly after Angelina married Theodore Weld.

After laying low for a while, the sisters retired in Hyde Park, Boston, Massachusetts in 1865 and both died there a couple years later.

Through the antislavery campaign the sisters not only contributed to the success of abolitionism, but also played a huge role in helping women gain equality in society. Their efforts are still noticed today.