Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook

By Denise D. Knight | Go to book overview
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ANGELINA GRIMKÉ
(1805-1879)

Lynn Domina


BIOGRAPHY

Bom on February 20, 1805, Angelina Grimké was the youngest child of Judge John Faucheraud Grimké and Mary (Smith) Grimké. Hers was a prominent slaveholding family in Charleston, South Carolina. Angelina's sister, Sarah Grimké, was her godmother and the sibling to whom she was closest. As a girl, she attended Charleston Seminary, where she was introduced to the moral circumstances of her culture when she witnessed the back of a small boy covered with scars and scabs; Angelina fainted at the sight. Because she did not agree with the content of the required prayers, she refused confirmation into the Episcopal Church in 1818 and joined a Presbyterian congregation in 1826. In 1827, Angelina became interested in Quakerism, partly through Sarah's influence, and began attending the Quaker meeting in Charleston. Because of her opposition to slavery, her relationship with her family was strained, and she left Charleston in 1829 for Philadelphia, where Sarah had been living for several years.

Angelina began to assume a more activist stance toward abolitionism, attending lectures sponsored by the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society, which she formally joined during the spring of 1835. At the end of the following summer, she wrote William Lloyd Garrison a letter expressing her views; when Garrison printed this letter without her permission in The Liberator, Angelina was urged to retract her opinions, but she refused. Subsequently, Angelina received an offer from the American Anti-Slavery Society to speak to women's sewing circles in New York. At this point, she decided to write her Appeal to the Christian Women of the Southern States ( 1836)--the only abolitionist text written by a Southern woman to other Southern women. When copies of this Appeal reached Charleston, her family was warned that if Angelina set foot in the city, she

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