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White Women and Abolition

White Women and Abolition

  • White women who were involved in abolitionism had husbands or fathers who were also abolitionists and reform-minded
    • This allowed them to be involved in the abolitionist movement
  • Many were Quakers who were accustomed to relying on conscience regardless of consequence
    • “the divine summons” of abolition
    • Believed the system of slavery to be a sin


Early Work for the Cause

  • Began work similar to that done in benevolence societies
    • Raised money for The Liberator
    • Held antislavery fairs – sold homemade items
    • Attended lectures and supported men who worked for the cause
  • These activities became offensive now that they were attached to abolition (unlike benevolent societies)


Anti Slavery Experience

  • Social ostracism
  • Loss of reputation
  • Persecution
  • Sense of personal regeneration
  • Support of new peers
  • Honorable sense of commitment


William Lloyd Garrison

  • Abolitionist, suffragist and social reformer
  • Called for immediate and unconditional emancipation of slaves
  • Founder and editor of:   The Liberator (1831)
  • Founder of the:   American Anti-Slavery Society 1833


Anti-Slavery Crusade

  • The Liberator 1831
  • William Lloyd Garrison editor of anti-slavery
  • Female antislavery societies began to form in New England in 1832 
  • By 1838 more than 100 societies had been created
    • Devoted their initial efforts to fundraising


Lucretia Mott, 1793 – 1880

  • Hicksite Quaker minister
  • A leading abolitionist in Philadelphia
  • Helped establish the American Anti-Slavery Society
  • Also helped to create the Female Anti-Slavery Society
  • Worked with Elizabeth Cady Stanton


Their Work Evolves

  • Developed from local auxiliaries to united societies
    • Their meetings are threatened and disrupted by angry mobs
    • 1837 organized a national network of volunteers to solicit signatures
    • United in a massive petition campaign to Congress to end slavery


The Grimke Sisters

  • Daughters of an elite slaveholding family
  • In 1837 began a speaking tour to promote the abolition of slavery
  • In time, their work introduces the idea of women’s rights in American life 
  • Worked for the American Anti-Slavery Society


Controversy Within The Cause

  • 1836 Grimké sisters are the first women hired as antislavery agents by The Liberator
    • First southern women to become prominent in public life
  • First lecture was in New York 1836 – at a women’s meeting
    • Next lecture, audience included men
    • Drew the attention of thousands
    • Inspired new converts
    • Spawned new societies


Sarah Grimke

  • Sixth of 14 children
  • 1819 she traveled with her father to Philadelphia to consult with a Quaker physician
  • Converted to Orthodox Quakerism after returning to Charleston
  • Regularly expressed her thoughts in Sunday meetings traveled to speak to other Quaker groups


Angelina Grimke

  • Last of 14 children
  • Concerned about the fate of her family’s souls
  • Searched for a different religion than the one she grew up with 
  • Considered becoming a teacher – visited Catherine Beecher


Conversion to Quakerism

  • Searched for a more meaningful religious faith – originally left Charleston for religious, not antislavery motives
    • Their priority was first to save the souls of their family members
    • Adapted the Quaker belief that slavery was a sin
    • Each came to reject slavery at their own time
    • Each sought an alternative to their mother’s church
    • Angelina joined Sarah in Philadelphia July 1828


Racial and Sexual Equality Fuse

  • Sarah and Angelina begin to defend themselves and their right to speak
    • Sarah draws a parallel between the condition of women and that of slaves
    • Demands equal education, pay and rights and the rights of “moral beings”
  • They are denounced by religious leaders
    • Told that women should not speak publicly in mixed groups for this cause
    • They respond by writing:
  • Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Women, 1838

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History 111