Grimké, Sarah Moore

Grimké, Sarah Moore,

1792–1873, American abolitionist and advocate of women's rights, b. Charleston, S.C. She came from a distinguished Southern family. On a visit to Philadelphia, Sarah joined the Society of Friends. She converted her younger sister Angelina to the Quaker faith, and the two moved to the North permanently in Jan., 1832. Angelina became an abolitionist in 1835 and in turn converted Sarah. These two timid daughters of an aristocratic slaveholding family became the first women who dared to speak in public for the black slave and then for women's rights. Sarah wrote An Epistle to the Clergy of the Southern States (1836), urging abolition, and Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Woman (1838). In 1838 the sisters persuaded their mother to give them, as their share of the family estate, slaves, whom they immediately freed.


See bibliography under Grimké, Angelina EmilyGrimké, Angelina Emily
, 1805–79, American abolitionist and advocate of women's rights, b. Charleston, S.C. Converted to the Quaker faith by her elder sister Sarah Moore Grimké, she became an abolitionist in 1835, wrote
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Grimké, Sarah Moore

(1792–1873) abolitionist, women's rights activist; born in Charleston, S.C. (sister of Angelina Grimké). Daughter of a slave-owning judge and educated by tutors, she had from an early age become uncomfortable with the practice of slavery. Visiting Philadelphia in 1819, she was moved by the Quakers' rejection of slavery and in 1821 she moved there and joined the Society of Friends. For several years she confined herself to religious and charitable causes, but when her younger sister Angelina joined her in 1829 and went public with her own attacks on slavery (1835), Sarah spoke out against the Philadelphia Quakers' own discrimination against African-Americans and moved to New York City (1836). She then published her first work on slavery, Epistle to the Clergy of the Southern States (1836), in which she attacked the argument that slavery was justified because it was recognized in the Bible. The Grimké sisters then themselves became controversial by their insistence on speaking before "mixed" audiences of men and women, and soon Sarah was writing Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Women (1838). After Angelina married the abolitionist Theodore Weld in 1838, Sarah lived with them and followed them on their moves first to New Jersey and then to Massachusetts, where she helped raise their three children. She ceased lecturing in public but continued to write and petition against slavery, and for many of the years between 1848 and 1867, she taught to help support their family. The sisters did not publish much against slavery after 1839 but they continued to identify with the women's rights movement.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.