Mount Hope Cemetery, 355 Walk Hill St, Boston, MA 02131
Angelina Emily Grimké Weld (February 21, 1805 – October 26, 1879) was an American political activist, women's rights advocate, supporter of the women's suffrage movement, and besides her sister, Sarah Moore Grimké, the only known white Southern woman to be a part of the abolition movement. While she was raised a Southerner, she spent her entire adult life living in the North. The time of her greatest fame was between 1836, when a letter she sent to William Lloyd Garrison was published in his anti-slavery newspaper, The Liberator, and May 1838, when she gave a speech to abolitionists with a hostile crowd throwing stones and shouting outside the hall. The essays and speeches she produced in that two-year period were incisive arguments to end slavery and to advance women's rights.
Drawing her views from natural rights theory (as set forth in the Declaration of Independence), the Constitution, Christian beliefs in the Bible, and her own experience of slavery and racism in the South, Grimké argued for the injustice of denying freedom to any man or woman. She was particularly eloquent on the problem of racial prejudice. When challenged for speaking in public to mixed audiences of men and women in 1837, she and her sister Sarah Moore Grimké fiercely defended women's right to make speeches and participate in political action.
In 1831, Grimké was courted by Edward Bettle, the son of Samuel Bettle and Jane Temple Bettle, a family of prominent Orthodox Friends. Diaries show that Bettle intended to marry Grimké, though he never actually proposed. Sarah supported the match. However, in the summer of 1832, a large cholera epidemic broke out in Philadelphia. Grimké agreed to take in Bettle's cousin Elizabeth Walton, who, unbeknownst to anyone at the time, was dying of the disease. Bettle, who regularly visited his cousin, contracted the disease and died from it shortly thereafter. Grimké was heartbroken and directed all of her energy into her activism.
Grimké first met Theodore Weld in October 1836, at the agent training convention. She was greatly impressed with Weld's speeches and wrote in a letter to a friend that he was "a man raised up by God and wonderfully qualified to plead the cause of the oppressed." In the two years before they married, Weld encouraged Grimké's activism, arranging for many of her lectures and the publication of her writings. They confessed their love for each other in letters in February 1838. Grimké wrote to Weld stating she didn't know why he did not like her. He replied "you are full of pride and anger" and then in letters twice the size of the rest he wrote: "And I have loved you since the first time I met you." They were married in Philadelphia on May 14, 1838, by a black minister and a white minister.
Although Weld was said to have been supportive of Grimké's desire to remain politically active after their marriage, Grimké eventually retreated to a life of domesticity due to failing health. Sarah lived with the couple in New Jersey, and the sisters continued to correspond and visit with their friends in the abolitionist and emerging women's rights movements. They operated a school in their home, and later a boarding school at Raritan Bay Union, a utopian community. At the school, they taught the children of other noted abolitionists, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In the years after the Civil War, they raised funds to pay for the graduate education of their two mixed-race nephews, the sons of their brother Henry W. Grimké (1801-1852). The sisters paid for Archibald Henry Grimké and Rev. Francis James Grimké to attend Harvard Law School and Princeton Theological Seminary, respectively. Archibald became a lawyer and later an ambassador to Haiti and Francis became a Presbyterian minister. Both became leading civil rights activists. Archibald's daughter, Angelina Weld Grimké, became a poet and author.
After the Civil War ended, the Grimké–Weld household moved to Hyde Park, Massachusetts, where they spent their last years. Angelina and Sarah were active in the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association .
My published books:
BACK TO HOME PAGE