Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sisters That Changed History - Sarah & Angelina Grimke

Blogger: Amber Schamel
Continuing our series of Sisters That Changed History, we're now brought to the antebellum era in the United States.

Although thirteen years apart, Sarah and Angelina Grimke were very close and became legends during their own lifetimes.
Sarah Grimke (Public Domain)

Sarah was born into the home of a wealthy South Carolina family on November 26, 1792. Her father was a prominent Charleston judge and a slaveholder. He was a strict disciplinarian who believed his children should learn hard work. As a result, he would often send them out to work among the slaves in the cotton and corn fields. Although we don’t know the exact instances, it must have been here that Sarah, as well as her younger sister, Angelina, saw something at a young age that made a very deep impression on them. It caused them to fiercely oppose slavery despite the contrary opinions of the rest of their family.

Angelina was born February 20, 1805, the youngest of the 14 children. Since Sarah’s parents had forbidden her to study, she turned her interest to her youngest sister. She begged to become her godmother and was a strong influence on Angelina's life. The sisters would share a lifelong bond.

After the death of her father, Sarah converted to Quakerism and moved to a settlement in Pennsylvania in 1821. Angelina soon followed in her footsteps.

After their move to Pennsylvania, Angelina’s public career began accidentally. In 1835, the renowned abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison published an appeal in Boston begging the people to leave off violence. Mobs of angry people and violent demonstrations were becoming frequent, especially in New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. For some reason, Angelina felt compelled to send the man a personal letter of encouragement. Garrison ended up publishing the letter in an issue of The Liberator, much to the embarrassment of Angelina and the shock of her Quaker neighbors. This was the start of her and her sister’s public career.
Angelina Grimke (Public Domain)

Angelina soon discovered her gift for speaking and became known as the most powerful and stirring female orator for the abolitionist cause. The dynamic duo soon began touring around New York, New England, and New Jersey speaking to audiences about what they saw growing up and the need for abolition. They kept up an amazing schedule, sometimes speaking as many as six times per week.

Besides their speaking tours, the sister wrote books, abolitionist tracts, and pamphlets. Angelina became the first woman in America to address a body of legislators. Sarah may not have dazzled audiences with her speech as Angelina did, but she was mighty with the pen.

Angelina married Theodore Weld, also a devout abolitionist, and together they continued to work toward racial equality.

Angelina’s dynamic speaking career came to an abrupt end two days after her marriage. Tensions were high at the anti-slavery convention on May 16, 1838. Angry crowds in Philadelphia turned violent as she stood in the convention hall and gave her last stirring speech. “I have seen it! I know it has horrors that can never be described.” The next morning, the mob burned and destroyed the building, offices and everything inside. That was the end of her public addresses.
Angelina's husband, Theodore Weld
(Public Domain)

However, she, her husband and her sister continued to write and educate. Angelina raised three children, ran two schools, and continued to advocate abolition.

Sarah died in December of 1873 at a ripe age of 81. Angelina’s health declined after a series of strokes left her paralyzed and she died in October 1879. Both of them survived to see the end of slavery before their deaths.

The views of these two sisters were radical, even amongst their own ranks of abolitionists. They were also proponents of women’s suffrage. Yet today they leave a strong legacy of social reform and anti-racism.


Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for travel, history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest".  Her title, Dawn of Liberty, was awarded the 2017 CSPA Book of the Year award in Historical Fiction. She lives in Colorado and spends half her time volunteering in the Ozarks. Amber is a proud member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association. 
Her new book, Solve by Christmas is now available for pre-order! Click here to check out the pre-order bonus.


  1. Very inspiring! Thank you for this post!

    1. Thank you for stopping in today, Connie! So glad you enjoyed this post.

  2. I always like to read what you write, Amber. I found this post intriguing. Mrs. Lucretia Mott also spoke out against slavery during this time and would have known these sisters. I learned about her when researching for a children's educational workbook, William Penn and Other Pennsylvanians. In my book, I included a fact about God's intervention for the Motts during this time. After the mob burned Pennsylvania Hall, they headed for the Mott's home. A friend of theirs saved it by pointing the mob in the wrong direction.

    1. Wow, that's amazing! Thank you for sharing that with me, Sandy. We certainly have some incredible people in our history.

  3. Amber, another great post with history brought to life through the lives of Sarah and Angelina Grimke. Their life's experiences brought determination, faith and fight to change how slaves were treated. Thank you for sharing.

    1. You're quite welcome. :) Thank YOU for stopping by. I'm so glad the post was enjoyable for you.

  4. I always enjoy reading history like this! And the pictures are fun!

  5. I love your sisters that changed history series!