navigation bar Houghton Mifflin Social Studies United States History: Early Years
Biographies Unit Biographies

Sarah Grimké 1792–1873
Angelina Grimké 1805–1879
Writer and First Lady

Sarah and Angelina Grimké came from a wealthy South Carolina planter's family. Hundreds of enslaved African Americans worked the Grimké family's land. Yet, instead of accepting slavery as normal, the Grimké sisters rebelled against it. As children, both girls were horrified by the cruelty of slavery.

They moved north as adults and joined the abolitionist movement led by William Lloyd Garrison. They wrote pamphlets and held antislavery meetings for women. They went on a speaking tour and described the evils of slavery. Their emotional speeches drew both men and women. At that time, it was considered wrong for a woman to speak before an audience of men. The Grimkés were widely condemned. The sisters realized that they couldn't fight for other people's rights if they themselves did not have rights. The Grimké sisters courageously began speaking and writing about equality for women. In their efforts for social equality for women and African Americans, the Grimkés were ahead of their time.

Comprehension Check

What made the Grimkés decide to speak out about women's rights?

Critical Thinking

What do you think made the Grimkés persuasive speakers?