Grimke Sisters

Elliott Mott

Background

Sarah Grimke was born in 1792, and Angelina was born in 1805. Both were born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina on a plantation that their father owned. Despite them living on a plantation, the Grimke sisters grew to despise slavery after witnessing its effects at a young age. They were able to witness the effects of slavery because their father, Fauchereaud Grimke, made them and his other twelve children work in the fields from time to time. In 1819, Sarah took her dying father to Philadelphia to find medical help, where she received it from Quakers. After her father's death, she returned to Charleston and was appalled by the practice of slavery she saw, so she converted to Quakerism and moved to Philadelphia. Angelina soon followed her afterwards.

The Movement

  • The Grimke sisters began in the abolitionist movement, which started in the early 1800's in the Northern states. The movement consisted of those who resented slavery, feeling that it was morally wrong, and that all men were created equal.
  • The sisters eventually moved on to the Women's Rights Movement, which began when the Seneca Falls Convention held by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in New York was convened in 1848, . The movement's main goal was to secure equal rights for women and to remove gender discrimination from laws, institutions and behavioral patterns.
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Why did they get involved?

After the Grimke sisters moved to Philadelphia, they began to join the abolitionist movement. In 1836, Angelina wrote the "Appeal to the Christian Women of the South" which implored white southern women to embrace anti-slavery. Angelina's writing was heavily criticized, Southerners opposing the abolitionist message and northerners felt that a woman had no right to write such things. After hearing these criticisms from Northerners, the Grimke sisters joined the women's rights movement.

How did they get involved?

  • The Grimke sisters were the first women to speak to a crowd of both men and women, which they did multiple times throughout their tours to parts of the United States.
  • Angelina Grimke was the first woman to speak to a legislative body in the United States.
  • Sarah Grimke wrote the "Letters on the Equality of the Sexes", a document that expressed the equal rights of men and women.
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Grimke Sisters