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  • 1885
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the discharge of any functions, mental, moral, or spiritual: that there is no reason why woman should not make laws, administer justice, sit in the chair of State, plead at the Bar, or in the pulpit, if she has the qualifications, just as much as man. What I advocated in boyhood, I advocate now–that woman, in every particular, shares, equally with man, rights and responsibilities. Now that I have made this statement of my creed on this point, to show you that we fully agree, except that I probably go much further than you do, I must say I do most deeply regret that you have begun a series of articles in the papers on the rights of woman. Why, my dear sisters, the best possible advocacy which you can make is just what you are making day by day. Thousands hear you every week who have all their lives held that women must not speak in public. Such a practical refutation of the dogma which your speaking furnishes has already converted multitudes.”

He then goes on to urge two strong points:–

1st. That as Southerners, and having been brought up among slaveholders, they could do more to convince the North than twenty Northern women, though they could speak as well, and that they would lose this peculiar advantage the moment they took up another subject.

2d. That almost any other women of their capacity and station could produce a greater effect on the public mind on that subject than they, because they were Quakers, and woman’s right to speak and minister was a Quaker doctrine. Therefore, for these and other reasons, he urged them to leave the lesser work to others who could do it better than they, and devote, consecrate their whole souls, bodies, and spirits to the greater work which they could do far better than anybody else. He continues: “Let us all first wake up the nation to lift millions of slaves from the dust and turn them into men, and then, when we all have our hand in, it will be an easy matter to take millions of women from their knees and set them on their feet; or, in other words, transform them from _babies_ into _women_.”

A spirited, almost dogmatic, controversy was the result of these letters. In a letter to Jane Smith, Angelina says: “I cannot understand why they (the abolitionists) so exceedingly regret sister’s having begun those letters. Brother Weld was not satisfied with writing us _one_ letter about them, but we have received two more setting forth various reasons why we should not moot the subject of woman’s rights _at all_, but our judgment is not convinced, and we hardly know what to do about it, for we have just as high an opinion of Brother Garrison’s views, and _he_ says, ‘_go on_.’ … The great effort of abolitionists now seems to be to keep every topic but slavery out of view, and hence their opposition to Henry O. Wright and his preaching anti-government doctrines, and our even writing on woman’s rights. Oh, if I _only_ saw they were _right_ and _we_ were _wrong_, I would yield immediately.”

One of the two other letters from T.D. Weld, referred to by Angelina, is a very long one, covering over ten pages of the old-fashioned foolscap paper, and is in reply to letters received from the sisters, and which were afterwards returned to them and probably destroyed. I have concluded to make some extracts from this long letter from Mr. Weld, not only on account of the arguments used, but to show the frank, fearless spirit with which he met the reasoning of his two “sisters.” When we consider that he was even then courting Angelina, his hardihood is a little surprising.

After observing that he had carefully read their letters, and made an abstract on half a sheet of paper of the “positions and conclusions found therein,” he continues:–

“This abstract I have been steadily looking at with great marvelling,

“1st. That you should argue at length the doctrine of Woman’s Rights, as though I was a _dissentient_;

“2d. That you should so magnify the power of the New England clergy;

“3d. That you should so misconceive the actual convictions of ministers and Christians, and almost all, as to the public speaking of women;

“4th. That you should take the ground that the clergy, and the whole church government, must come down _before_ slavery can be abolished (a proposition which to my mind is absurd).

“5th. That you should so utterly overlook the very _threshold_ principle upon which alone any moral reformation can be effectually promoted. Oh, dear! There are a dozen other things–marvellables–in your letters; but I must stop short, or I can say nothing on other points.

“… Now, before we commence action, let us clear the decks; for if they are clogged we shall have foul play. _Overboard_ with everything that don’t _belong on board_. Now, first, _what is the precise point at issue between us?_ I answer first _negatively_, that we may understand each other on all points kindred to the main one. 1st. It is _not_ whether _woman’s_ rights are inferior to _man’s_ rights.”

He then proceeded to state the doctrine of Woman’s Rights very forcibly. Of _sex_, he says:–

“Its _only_ design is not to give nor to take away, nor in any respect to modify, or even touch, rights or responsibilities in any sense, except so far as the peculiar offices of each sex may afford less or more opportunity and ability for the exercise of rights, and the discharge of responsibilities, but merely to continue and enlarge the human department of God’s government.”

For an entire page he continues in this manner of “_negatives_” to “_clear the decks_,” until he has shown through seven negative specifications what do _not_ constitute the point at issue, and then goes on:–

“Well, waving further negatives, the question at issue between us _is_, whether _you_, S.M.G. and A.E.G., should engage in the public discussion of the rights of women as a distinct topic. Here you affirm, and I deny. Your reasons for doing it, as contained in your two letters, are the following:–

“1st. The _New England Spectator_ was _opened_; you were invited to write on the subject, and some of the Boston abolitionists _urged_ you to do so, and you say, ‘We viewed this unexpected opportunity of throwing our views before the public, as _providential_.’

“_Answer_. When the devil is hard pushed, and likely to be run down in the chase, it is an old trick of his to start some smaller game, and thus cause his pursuers to strike off from his own track on to that of one of his imps. It was certainly a very _providential_ opportunity for Nehemiah to ‘throw his views before the public,’ when Geshem, Sanballat, and Tobiah invited and urged him to stop building the wall and hold a public discussion as to the _right_ to build. And doubtless a great many Jews said to him, ‘Unless we _establish_ the right in the first place, it will surely be taken from us utterly. This is a providential opportunity to preach truth in the very camp of the enemy.’ But who got it up, God or the devil?… Look over the history of the world, and in nine cases out of ten we shall find that Satan, after being foiled in his arts to stop a great moral enterprise, has finally succeeded by diverting the reformers from the _main_ point to a _collateral_, and that too just at the _moment_ when such diversion brought ruin. Now, even if this opportunity made it the duty of _somebody_ to take up the subject (which is not proved by the fact of the opportunity), why should _you_ give _your_ views, and with _your name_? Others as able might be found, and as familiar with the subject. But you say, others ‘are driven off the field, and cannot answer the objections.’ I answer, your _names_ do not answer the objections…. How very easy to have helped a third person to the argument. By publicly making an onset in your own names, in a widely-circulated periodical, upon a doctrine cherished as the apple of their eye (I don’t say really _believed_) by nine tenths of the church and the world; what was it but a formal challenge to the whole community for a regular set-to?”

He proceeds to speak of such a “set to” and debate as “producing alienation wide-spread in our own ranks, and introducing confusion and every evil work.” He urges the necessity of vindicating a right “by exercising it,” instead of simply arguing for it.

Of ministers he says: “True, there is a pretty large class of ministers who are fierce about it, and will fight, but a still larger class that will come over _if_ they first witness the successful practice rather than meet it in the shape of a doctrine to be swallowed. Now, if instead of blowing a blast through the newspapers, sounding the onset, and summoning the ministers and churches to surrender, you had without any introductory flourish just gone right among them and lectured, _when_ and _where_ and _as_ you could find opportunity, and paid no attention to criticism, but pushed right on, without making any ado about ‘attacks,’ and ‘invasions,’ and ‘opposition,’ and have let the barkers bark their bark out,–within one year you might have practically brought over five hundred thousand persons, of the very moral _elite_ of New England. You may rely upon it…. No moral enterprise, when prosecuted with ability and any sort of energy, _ever_ failed under heaven so long as its conductors pushed the _main_ principle, and did not strike off until they reached the summit level. On the other hand, every reform that ever foundered in mid-sea, was capsized by one of these gusty side-winds. Nothing more utterly amazes me than the fact that the _conduct_ of a great, a _pre-eminently_ great moral enterprise, should exhibit so little of a wise, far-sighted, comprehensive _plan_. Surely it is about plain enough to be called _self-evident_, that the only common-sense method of conducting a great moral enterprise is to _start_ with a _fundamental, plain principle, so_ fundamental as not to involve side-relations, and _so_ plain, that it cannot be denied.”

The main obvious principle he urges is to be pushed until the community surrenders to it. He adds:–

“Then, when you have drawn them up to the top of the general principle, you can slide them down upon all the derivative principles _all at once_. But if you attempt to start off on a derivative principle, from any other point than the summit level of the main principle, you must beat up stream–yes, up a cataract. It reverses the order of nature, and the laws of mind….

“You put the cart before the horse; you drag the tree by the top, in attempting to push your woman’s rights until human rights have gone ahead and broken _the path_.

* * * * *

“You are both liable, it seems to me, from your structure of mind, to form your opinions upon _too slight_ data, and too narrow a range of induction, and to lay your plans and adopt your measures, rather _dazzled_ by the glare of false _analogies_ than _led on_ by the relations of cause and effect. Both of you, but especially Angelina, unless I greatly mistake, are constitutionally tempted to push for _present_ effect, and upon the suddenness and impulsiveness of the onset rely mainly for victory. Besides from _her_ strong _resistiveness_ and constitutional obstinacy, she is liable every moment to turn short from the main point and spend her whole force upon some little one-side annoyance that might temporarily nettle her. In doing this she might win a _single battle_, but _lose a whole campaign_. Add to this, great pride of character, so closely curtained as to be almost searchless to herself, with a passion for adventure and novel achievements, and she has in all an amount of temptation to poor human nature that can be overmastered only by strong conflicts and strong faith. Under this, a sense of justice so keen that violation of justice would be likely to lash up such a tide of indignation as would drive her from all anchorage. I say this to her _not_ in raillery. I _believe_ it, and therefore utter it. It is either fiction or fact. If _fiction_ it can do no hurt; if _fact_, it may not be in vain in the Lord, and then my heart’s desire and prayer will be fulfilled. May the Lord have you in his keeping, my own dear sisters.

“Most affectionately, your brother ever,

“T.D. WELD.”

“One point I designed to make _more_ prominent. It is this: What is done for the _slave_ and _human rights_ in this country _must be done note, now, now_. Delay is madness, ruin, whereas woman’s rights are not a life and death business, _now or never_. Why can’t you have eyes to see this? The wayfaring man, though a _fool_, need not err _here_, it is so plain. What will you run a tilt at next?”

And he names several things,–the tariff, the banks, English tithe system, burning widows, etc., and adds:–

“If you adopt the views of H.C. Wright, as you are reported to have done, in his official bulletin of a ‘domestic scene’ (where you are made to figure conspicuously among the conquests of the victor as rare spoils gracing the triumphal car), why then we are in one point of doctrine just as wide asunder as extremes can be.”

This letter was answered by Sarah, and with the most admirable patience and moderation. She begins by saying:–

“Angelina is so wrathy that I think it will be unsafe to trust the pen in her hands to reply to thy two last _good_ long letters. As I feel nothing but gratitude for the kindness which I am sure dictated them, I shall endeavor to answer them, and, as far as possible, allay thy uneasiness as to the course we are pursuing.”

She then proceeds to calmly discuss his objections, and to defend their views on the woman question, which, she says, she regards as second in importance to none, but that she does not feel bound to take up every _caviller_ who presents himself, and therefore will not notice some others who had criticised her letters in the _Spectator_.

About H.C. Wright, she says: “I must say a few words concerning Brother Wright, towards whom I do not feel certain that the law of love predominated when thou wrote that part of thy letter relative to him…. We feel prepared to avow the principles set forth in the ‘domestic scene.’ I wonder thou canst not perceive the simplicity and beauty and consistency of the doctrine that all government, whether civil or ecclesiastical, conflicts with the government of Jehovah, and that by the Christian no other can be acknowledged, without leaning more or less on an arm of flesh. Would to God that all abolitionists put their trust where I believe H.C. Wright has placed his, in God alone…. I have given my opinions (in the _Spectator_). Those who read them may receive or reject or find fault. I have nothing to do with that. I shall let thee enjoy thy opinion, but I must wait and see the issue before I conclude it was one of Satan’s providences…. I know the opposition to our views arises in part from the fact that women are habitually regarded as inferior beings, but chiefly I believe from a desire to keep them in unholy subjection to man, and one way of doing this is to deprive us of the means of becoming their equals by forbidding us the privileges of education which would fit us for the performance of duty. I am greatly mistaken if most men have not a desire that women should be silly…. I have not said half I wanted, but this must suffice for the present, as Angelina has concluded to try her hand at scolding. Farewell, dear brother. May the Lord reward thee tenfold for thy kindness, and keep thee in the hollow of His holy hand.

“Thy sister in Jesus,


Angelina’s part of the letter is not written in the sweet, Quaker spirit which prevails through Sarah’s, but shows a very interesting consciousness of her power over the man she addressed.

“Sister,” she writes, “seems very much afraid that my pen will be transformed into a venomous serpent when I employ it to address thee, my dear brother, and no wonder, for I like to pay my debts, and, as I received ten dollars’ worth of scolding,[7] I should be guilty of injustice did I not return the favor. Well! such a lecture I never before had from anyone. What is the matter with thee? One would really suppose that we had actually abandoned the anti-slavery cause, and were roving the country, preaching _nothing_ but woman’s rights, when, in fact, I can truly say that whenever I lecture, I forget _everything but the slave_. He is all in all for the time being. And what is the reason _I_ am to be scolded because _sister_ writes letters in the _Spectator_? Please let every woman bear _her own burdens_. Indeed, I should like to know what I have done yet? And dost thou really think in my answer to C.E. Beecher’s absurd views of woman that I had better suppress my own? If so, I will do it, as thou makest such a monster out of the molehill, but my judgment is _not_ convinced that in this incidental way it is wrong to throw light on the subject.”

[7] Angelina and Sarah had sent Mr. Weld ten dollars for some supposed debts. He returned it, and said if any trifling sums fell due, he would take them out in scolding, and pay himself thus.

She speaks very gratefully of “Brother Lincoln, of Gardner,” who rejoiced to have them speak in his pulpit, and says:–

“My _keen sense of justice_ compels me to admire such nobility. He hoped sister would give her views on this branch of the subject in the _Spectator_. He thought they were needed, and _we_ are well convinced they are, T.D.W. notwithstanding. So much for my bump of obstinacy which even thy sledge-hammer cannot beat down.”

The subsequent correspondence, which I regret I have not room to insert, shows that the remonstrances of Whittier and Weld were effective in restraining, for the time being, the impatience of the sisters to urge in their public meetings what, however, they faithfully preached in private–their conviction that the wrongs of woman were the root of _all_ oppression.

Sarah meekly writes to “brother Weld.”

“After a struggle with my feelings, so severe that I was almost tempted to turn back from the anti-slavery cause, I have given up to what seemed the inevitable, and have thought little of it since. Perhaps I have done wrong, and if so, I trust I shall see it and repent it. I do not intend to make any promises, because I may have reason to regret them, but I do not know that I shall scribble any more on the objectionable topic of woman.”

This interesting controversy did not end until several more letters had passed back and forth, and various other topics had been brought in; but it was carried through with the same spirit of candor and love on all sides which marked the beginning. There was one subject introduced, a sort of side-question which I must notice, as it reveals in a very pleasant manner the religious principle and manly moral courage of Theodore D. Weld. At the close of one of her letters, Sarah says:–

“Now just as it has come into my head, please tell me whether thy clothing costs one hundred dollars per annum? I ask because it was insisted upon that Mr. Weld must spend that amount on his wardrobe, and I as strenuously insisted he did not. It was thought impossible a gentleman could spend less, but I think anti-slavery agents know better.”

To this, he answered thus, at the end of one of _his_ letters.

“Oh! I forgot the wardrobe! I suppose you are going to take me to task about my shag-overcoat, linsey-woolsey coat, and cowhide shoes; for you Quakers are as notional about _quality_ as you are precise about _cut_. Well, now to the question. While I was travelling and lecturing, I think that _one_ year my clothing must have cost me nearly one hundred dollars. It was the first year of my lecturing in the West, when one entire suit and part of another were destroyed or nearly so by mobs. Since I resigned my commission as agent, which is now nearly a year, my clothing has not cost me one third that amount. I don’t think it _even_ cost me fifty dollars a year, except the year I spoke of, when it was ruined by mobs, and the year 1832, when, in travelling, I lost it all with my other baggage in the Alum River. There, I believe I have answered your question as well as I can. However, I have always had to encounter the criticism and chidings of my acquaintances about my coarse dress. They will have it that I have always curtailed my influence and usefulness by such a John the Baptist attire as I have always been habited in. But I have remarked that those persons who have beset me on that score have shown in some way that they had their hearts set more or less on showing off their persons to advantage by their dress. Now I think of it, I believe you are in great danger of making a little god out of your caps and your drab color, and ‘_thee_’ and ‘_thou_.’ Besides, the tendency is quite questionable. The moment certain shades of color, or a certain combination of letters, or modulation of sounds, or arrangement of seams and angles, are made the _sine qua non_ of religion and principle, that moment religion and principle are hurled from their vantage-ground and become _slaves_ instead of _rulers_. I cannot get it out of my mind that these must be a fetter on the spirit that clings to such stereotyped forms and ceremonies that rustle and clatter the more because life and spirit and power do not inhabit them. Think about it, dear sisters.”

In Sarah’s next letter to him she says:–

“Now first about the wardrobe. Thou art greatly mistaken in supposing that I meant to quiz thee; no, not I, indeed. I wish from my heart more of us who take the profession of Jesus on our lips were willing to wear shag cloaks and linsey-woolsey garments. Now I may inform thee that, notwithstanding my prim caps, etc., I am as economical as thou art. I do many things in the way of dress to please my friends, but perhaps their watchfulness is needful.”

Dear Aunt Sarah! these last words will make many smile who remember how scrupulously careful she was about spending more on her dress than was absolutely necessary to cleanliness and health. Every dollar beyond this she felt was taken from the poor or from some benevolent enterprise. The watchfulness of her friends was indeed needful!

It appears from the above correspondence that both Sarah and Angelina had become tinctured with the doctrines of “non-resistance,” which, within a few years, had gained some credit with a few “perfectionists” and active reformers in and about Boston. They had been presented by Lydia Maria Child, a genial writer, under the guise of the Scriptural doctrine of love. This sentiment was held to be adequate to the regulation of social and political life: by it, ruffians were to be made to stand in awe of virtue; thieves, burglars, and murderers were to be made ashamed of themselves, and turned into honest and amiable citizens; children were to be governed without punishment; and the world was to be made a paradise. Rev. Henry C. Wright, a man of some ability, but tossed by every wind of doctrine, embraced the new gospel. He applied its principles to public matters. From the essential sinfulness of all forms of force, if used towards human beings, he inferred that penal laws, prisons, sheriffs, and criminal courts should be dispensed with; that governments, which, of necessity, execute their decrees by force, should be abolished; that Christians should not take part in politics, either by voting or holding office; that they should not employ force, even to resist encroachment or in the defence of their wives and children; and that although slavery, being a form of force, was wrong, no one should vote against it. The slave-holder was to be converted by love. The free States should show their grief and disapprobation by seceding from the slave States, and by nullifying within their limits any unjust laws passed by the nation. All governments, civil, ecclesiastical, and family, were to disappear, so that the divine law, interpreted by each one for himself, might have free course. To this fanciful, transcendental, and anarchical theory, Mr. Wright made sundry converts, more or less thorough, including Parker Pillsbury, Wm. L. Garrison, and Stephen S. Foster. That he took a good deal of pains to capture the subjects of our biography is evident. He attended their lectures, cultivated their acquaintance, extended to them his sympathy, and made them his guests. There are certain affinities of the non-resistance doctrines with Quakerism, which made them attractive to these two women who had little worldly knowledge, and who had been trained for years in the peace doctrines of the Philadelphia Friends.

It was fortunate for the anti-slavery cause that Sarah and Angelina were warned in time by their New York friends of the fatally dangerous character of the heresies they were inclined to accept. They went no further in that direction. In all their subsequent letters, journals, and papers there is not a word to show that either of them ever entertained no-government notions, or identified herself with persons who did. During the remaining months of their stay in Massachusetts, they devoted themselves to their true mission of anti-slavery work, accepting the co-operation and friendship of all friends of the slave, but avoiding compromising relations with those known as “no human government” non-resistants. This course was continued in after years, and drew upon them the disapprobation and strictures of the non-voting, non-fighting faction. In a letter from Sarah to Augustus Wattles, dated May 11, 1854, about the time of the Kansas war, she says:–

“We were fully aware of the severe criticisms passed upon us by many of those who showed their unfitness to be in the judgment seat, by the unmerciful censure they have pronounced against us when we were doing what to us seemed positive duty. They wanted us to live out Wm. Lloyd Garrison, not the convictions of our own souls, entirely unaware that they were exhibiting, in the high places of moral reform, the genuine spirit of slave-holding by wishing to curtail the sacred privilege of conscience. But we have not allowed their unreasonableness to sever us from them; they have many noble traits, have acted grandly for humanity, and it was perhaps a part of their business to abuse us. I do not think I love Garrison any the less for what he has said. His spirit of intolerance towards those who did not draw in his traces, and his adulation of those who surrendered themselves to his guidance, have always been exceedingly repulsive to me, weaknesses which marred the beauty and symmetry of his character, and prevented its symmetrical development, but nevertheless I know the stern principle which is the basis of his action. He is Garrison and nobody else, and all I ask is that he would let others be themselves.”

The feeling thus expressed was probably never changed until after the sisters had taken up their residence in the neighborhood of Boston, when visits were interchanged with Mr. Garrison, and friendly relations established, which ended only with death. It is certain, however, that Sarah and Angelina sympathized with the stalwart freemen who used Sharp’s rifles in the defence of free Kansas, who voted the Liberty, Free Soil, and Republican ticket, who elected Abraham Lincoln President, and who shouldered muskets against the rebels.


The anti-slavery cause, and intimate association with so many of its enthusiastic advocates, had indeed done much for Sarah Grimke. Her mind was rapidly becoming purified from the dross that had clogged it so long; religious doubts and difficulties were fading away one by one, and the wide, warm sympathies of her nature now freed, expanded gladly to a new world of light and love and labor. As she expressed it, she was like one coming into a clear brisk atmosphere, after having been long shut up in a close room. Her drowsy faculties were all stirred and invigorated, and though her disappointments had left wounds whose pain must always remind her of them, she had no longer time to sit down and bemoan them. There was so much to do in the broad, fresh fields which stretched around her, and she had been idle so long! Is it any wonder that she tried to grasp too much at first?

The affection between her and Angelina was growing daily more tender–perhaps a little more maternal on her part. Drawn closer together by the now complete separation from every member of their own family, and by the disapproval and coldness of their Philadelphia friends, they were an inexpressible solace and help to each other. Identified in all their trials, as now in their labors, they worked together in a sweet unity of spirit, which lessened every difficulty and lightened every burden.

They continued to lecture almost uninterruptedly for five months, and though the prejudice against them as women appeared but slightly diminished, people were becoming familiarized to the idea of women speaking in public, and the way was gradually being cleared for the advance-guard of that noble army which has brought about so many changes favorable to the weak and downtrodden of its own sex.

Invitations to speak came to the sisters from all parts of the State, and not even by dividing their labors among the smaller towns could they begin to respond to all who wished to hear them. Sometimes the crowds around the place of meeting were so great that a second hall or church would have to be provided, and Sarah speak in one, while Angelina spoke in the other. At one place, where over a thousand people crowded into a church, one of the joists gave way; it was propped up, but soon others began to crack, and, although the people were warned to leave that part of the building, only a few obeyed, and it was found impossible to persuade them to go, or to consent to have the speaking stopped.

At another place ladders were put up at all the windows, and men crowded upon them, and tenaciously held their uncomfortable positions through the whole meeting. In one or two places they were refused a meeting-house, on account of strong sectarian feeling against them as Quakers. At Worcester they had to adjourn from a large Congregational church to a small Methodist one, because the clergyman of the former suddenly returned from an absence, and declared that if they spoke in his church he would never enter it again. At Bolton, notices of their meetings were torn down, but the town hall was packed notwithstanding, many going away, unable to get in. The church here had also been refused them. Angelina, in the course of her lecture, seized an opportunity to refer to their treatment, saying that if the people of her native city could see her lecturing in that hall because every church had been closed against the cause of God’s down-trodden creatures, they would clap their hands for joy, and say, “See what slavery is doing for us in the town of Bolton!”

She describes very graphically going two miles to a meeting on a dark and rainy night, when Sarah was obliged to remain at home on account of a cold, and Abby Kelly drove her in a chaise, and how nearly they came to being upset, and how they met men in flocks along the road, all going to the meeting. She says:–

“It seemed as if I could not realize they were going to hear me,” and adds:–

“This was the first large meeting I ever attended without dear sister, and I wonder I did not feel desolate, for I knew not a creature there. Nevertheless, the Lord strengthened me, and I spoke with ease for an hour and a quarter.”

But the incessant strain upon her nervous system, together with the fatigue and exposure of almost constant travelling, began to tell seriously on her health. In October she frequently speaks of being “so tired,” of being “so glad to rest a day,” etc., until, all these warnings being unheeded, nature peremptorily called a halt. In the beginning of November, after a week of unusual fatigue, having lectured six times in as many different places, they reached Hingham quite worn out. Sarah, though still suffering with a cold, begged to lecture in her sister’s place, but Angelina had been announced, and she knew the people would be disappointed if she failed to appear. When they entered the crowded hall, a lady seeing how unwell Angelina looked, seized both her hands and exclaimed:–

“Oh, if you will only hold out to-night, I will nurse you for a week!”

She did hold out for an hour and a half, and then sank back exhausted, and was obliged to leave the lecture unfinished. This was the beginning of an illness which lasted, with its subsequent convalescence, through the remainder of the year. Their good friends, Samuel and Eliza Philbrick, brought the sisters to their beautiful home in Brookline, and surrounded them with every care and comfort kind hearts could suggest. Sarah then found how very weary she was also, and how opportune was this enforced rest.

“Thus,” wrote Angelina some weeks afterwards to Jane Smith, “thus ended our summer campaign. Oh, how delightful it was to stretch my weary limbs on a bed of ease, and roll off from my mind all the heavy responsibilities which had so long pressed upon it, and, above all, to feel in my soul the language, ‘Well done.’ It was luxury indeed, well worth the toil of months.”

Sarah, too, speaks of looking back upon the labors of the summer with feelings of unmixed satisfaction.

That the leaven prepared in Sarah Grimke’s letters on the “Province of Woman” was beginning to work was evidenced by a public discussion on woman’s rights which took place at the Boston Lyceum on the evening of Dec. 4, 1837. The amount of interest this first public debate on the subject excited was shown by the fact that an audience of fifteen hundred of the most intelligent and respectable people of Boston crowded the hall and listened attentively to the end. Sarah and Angelina, the latter now almost entirely recovered, were present, accompanied by Mr. Philbrick.

“A very noble view throughout,” says Angelina, and adds: “The discussion has raised my hopes of the woman question. It was conducted with respect, delicacy, and dignity, and many minds no doubt were roused to reflection, though I must not forget to say it was decided against us by acclamation, our enemies themselves being judges. It was like a meeting of slave-holders deciding that the slaves are happier in their present condition than they would be freed.”

Soon after this, Angelina writes that some Boston women, including Maria Chapman and Lydia M. Child, were about to start a woman’s rights paper, and she adds: “We greatly hope dear Maria Chapman will soon commence lecturing, and that the spark we have been permitted to kindle on the woman question will never die out.”

The annual meeting of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society was held the latter part of January, 1838, and was notable in several respects. On the second day, the “great Texas meeting,” as it was called, was held in Faneuil Hall, and the fact that this Cradle of Liberty was loaned to the abolitionists was bitterly commented upon by their opponents, while abolitionists themselves regarded it as strong evidence of the progress their cause had made. Angelina writes Jane Smith a graphic account of the speakers and speeches at this meeting, but especially mentions Henry B. Stanton, who made the most powerful speech of the whole session, and was so severe on Congress, that a representative who was present arose to object to the “hot thunderbolts and burning lava” that had been let loose on the heads of “the powers that be, of those whom we were commanded to honor and obey.” These remarks were so ridiculous as to excite laughter, and the manner in which Stanton demolished the speaker by his own arguments called forth such repeated rounds of applause that the great orator was obliged to _insist_ upon silence.

At this meeting, said to have been the largest ever held in Boston, several hundred women were present, a most encouraging sign to Sarah Grimke of the progress of _her_ ideas.

After some parleying, the hall of the House of Representatives was granted the Society for their remaining meetings, and here Quincy, Colver, Phelps, and Wendell Phillips spoke and made a deep impression, so deep that a committee was appointed to take into consideration the petitions on the subject of slavery.

Stanton, half in jest, asked Angelina if she would not like to speak before that committee, as the names of some thousands of women were before it as signers of petitions. She had never thought of such a thing, but, after reflecting upon it a day, sent Stanton word that if the friends of the cause thought well of it, she _would_ speak as he had proposed. He was surprised and troubled, for, though he was all right in the abstract on the woman question, he feared the consequences of such a manifest assertion of equality.

“It seems,” Angelina writes, “even the stout-hearted tremble when the woman question is to be acted out in full. Jackson, Fuller, Phelps, and Quincy were consulted. The first is sound to the core, and went right up to the State House to inquire of the chairman of the committee whether I could be heard. Wonderful to tell, he said Yes, without the least hesitation, and actually helped to remove the scruples of some of the timid-hearted abolitionists. Perhaps it is best I should bear the responsibility _wholly_ myself. I feel willing to do it, and think I shall say nothing more about it, but just let Birney and Stanton make the speeches they expect to before the committee this week, and when they have done, make an independent application to the chairman as a woman, as a Southerner, as a moral being…. I feel that this is the most important step I have ever been called to take: important to woman, to the slave, to my country, and to the world.”

This plan was carried out, thanks to James C. Alvord, the chairman of the committee; and the halls of the Massachusetts Legislature were opened for the first time to a woman. Wendell Phillips says of that meeting:–“It gave Miss Grimke the opportunity to speak to the best culture and character of Massachusetts; and the profound impression then made on a class not often found in our meetings was never wholly lost. It was not only the testimony of one most competent to speak, but it was the profound religious experience of one who had broken out of the charmed circle, and whose intense earnestness melted all opposition. The converts she made needed no after-training. It was when you saw she was opening some secret record of her own experience that the painful silence and breathless interest told the deep effect and lasting impression her words were making.”

We have not Angelina’s account of this meeting, but referring to it in a letter to Sarah Douglass, she says: “My heart never quailed before, but it almost died within me at that tremendous hour.”

But one hearing did not satisfy her, and the committee needed no urging to grant her another. At the second meeting, the hall was literally packed, and hundreds went away unable to obtain seats. When she arose to speak, there was some hissing from the doorways, but the most profound silence reigned through the crowd within. Angelina first stood in front of the Speaker’s desk, then she was requested to occupy the Secretary’s desk on one side, and soon after, that she might be seen as well as heard, she was invited to stand in the Speaker’s place. And from that conspicuous position she spoke over two hours without the least interruption. She says to Sarah Douglass:–

“What the effect of these meetings is to be, I know not, nor do I feel that _I_ have anything to do with it. This I know, that the chairman was in tears almost the whole time I was speaking,” and she adds: “We abolition women are turning the world upside down, for during the whole meeting there was sister seated up in the Speaker’s chair of state.”

These meetings were followed by the six evening lectures at the Odeon, to which reference has already been made. Sarah delivered the first lecture, taking for her subject the history of the country in reference to slavery. She spoke for two hours, fearlessly, as she always did, and though she says Garrison told her he trembled with apprehension, the audience of fifteen hundred people listened respectfully and attentively, frequently applauding the utterance of some strongly expressed truth, and showing no excitement even under the rebukes she administered to Edward Everett, then Governor of Massachusetts, for his speech in Congress in 1826, and to ex-Governor Lincoln for his in 1831. Both these worthies had declared their willingness to go down South to suppress servile insurrection.

This was the last time Sarah spoke in public. Her throat, which had long troubled her, was now seriously affected, and entire rest was prescribed. She did not murmur, for she had increasingly felt that Angelina’s speaking was more effective than hers, and now she believed the Lord was showing her that this part of the work must be left to her more gifted sister, and she gladly yielded to her the task of delivering the five succeeding lectures. In relation to these lectures, the son of Samuel Philbrick has kindly sent me the following extract from a diary kept by his father. Under date of April 23, 1838, he says:–

“In February Angelina addressed the committee of our legislature on the subject of slavery and the slave trade in the District of Columbia and Florida, and the inter-state slave trade, during three sittings of two hours each, in the Representatives’ Hall in Boston, before a crowded audience, stowed as close as they could stand in every aisle and corner. Her addresses were listened to with profound attention and respect, without interruption to the last. More than five hundred people could not get seats, but stood quietly during two full hours, in profound silence.

“During the last few weeks she has delivered five lectures, and Sarah one at the Odeon, before an assembly of men and women from all parts of the city. Every part of the building was crowded, every aisle filled. Estimated number, two thousand to three thousand at each meeting. There was great attention and silence, and the addresses were intensely interesting.”

These over, the sisters bade farewell to their most excellent Brookline friends, in whose family they had so peacefully rested for six months, and returned to Philadelphia, Sarah accepting a temporary home with Jane Smith, while Angelina went to stay with Mrs. Frost, at whose house two weeks later, that is on the 14th of May, she was united in marriage to Theodore D. Weld.

No marriage could have been more true, more fitting in every respect. The solemn relation was never entered upon in more holiness of purpose or in higher resolve to hold themselves strictly to the best they were capable of. It was a rededication of lives long consecrated to God and humanity; of souls knowing no selfish ambition, seeking before all things the glory of their Creator in the elevation of His creatures everywhere. The entire unity of spirit in which they afterwards lived and labored, the tender affection which, through a companionship of more than forty years, knew no diminution, made a family life so perfect and beautiful that it brightened and inspired all who were favored to witness it. No one could be with them under the most ordinary circumstances without feeling the force and influence of their characters.

Invitations were sent to about eighty persons, mostly abolitionists, of all colors, some jet black. Nearly all came; representing Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Among them were H.B. Stanton, C.C. Burleigh, William Lloyd Garrison, Amos Dresser, H.C. Wright, Maria and Mary Chapman, Abby Kelly, Samuel Philbrick, Jane Smith, and Sarah Douglass of course, and Mr. Weld’s older brother, the president of the asylum for deaf mutes. Sarah Grimke’s account of the wedding, written to a friend in England, is most interesting; and one cannot but wonder if another like it ever took place. The letter was written while the then and ever after inseparable trio was at Manlius, New York, visiting Mr. Weld’s family. After a slight mention of other matters, she says:–

“I must now give thee some account of my dear sister’s marriage, which probably thou hast already heard of. Her precious husband is emphatically a man of God, a member of the Presbyterian Church. Of course Angelina will be disowned for forming this connection, and I shall be for attending the marriage. We feel no regret at this circumstance, believing that the discipline which cuts us off from membership for an act so strictly in conformity with the will of God, and so sanctioned by His word as is the marriage of the righteous, must be anti-Christian, and I am thankful for an opportunity to testify against it. The marriage was solemnized at the house of our sister, Anna R. Frost, in Philadelphia, on the 14th instant. By the law of Pennsylvania, a marriage is legal if witnessed by twelve persons. Neither clergyman nor magistrate is required to be present. Angelina could not conscientiously consent to be married by a clergyman, and Theodore D. Weld cheerfully consented to have the marriage solemnized in such manner as comported with her views. We all felt that the presence of a magistrate, a stranger, would be unpleasant to us at such a time, and we therefore concluded to invite such of our friends as we desired, and have the marriage solemnized as a religious act, in a religious and social meeting. Neither Theodore nor Angelina felt as if they could bind themselves to any preconceived form of words, and accordingly uttered such as the Lord gave them at the moment. Theodore addressed Angelina in a solemn and tender manner. He alluded to the unrighteous power vested in a husband by the laws of the United States over the person and property of his wife, and he abjured all authority, all government, save the influence which love would give to them over each other as moral and immortal beings. I would give much could I recall his words, but I cannot. Angelina’s address to him was brief but comprehensive, containing a promise to honor him, to prefer him above herself, to love him with a pure heart fervently. Immediately after this we knelt, and dear Theodore poured out his soul in solemn supplication for the blessing of God on their union, that it might be productive of enlarged usefulness, and increased sympathy for the slave. Angelina followed in a melting appeal to our Heavenly Father, for a blessing on them, and that their union might glorify Him, and then asked His guidance and over-shadowing love through the rest of their pilgrimage. A colored Presbyterian minister then prayed, and was followed by a white one, and then I felt as if I could not restrain the language of praise and thanksgiving to Him who had condescended to be in the midst of this marriage feast, and to pour forth abundantly the oil and wine of consolation and rejoicing. The Lord Jesus was the first guest invited to be present, and He condescended to bless us with His presence, and to sanction and sanctify the union which was thus consummated. The certificate was then read by William Lloyd Garrison, and was signed by the company. The evening was spent in pleasant social intercourse. Several colored persons were present, among them two liberated slaves, who formerly belonged to our father, had come by inheritance to sister Anna, and had been freed by her. They were our invited guests, and we thus had an opportunity to bear our testimony against the horrible prejudice which prevails against colored persons, and the equally awful prejudice against the poor.”

This unconventional but truly religious marriage ceremony was in perfect harmony with the loyal, noble natures of Theodore Weld and Angelina Grimke, exemplifying the simplicity of their lives and the strength of their principles. No grand preparations preceded the event; no wedding bells were rung on the occasion; no rare gifts were displayed: but the blessing of the lowly and the despised, and the heart-felt wishes of co-workers and co-sufferers were the offerings which lent to the occasion its purest joy and brightest light.

But though so quietly and peacefully solemnized, this marriage was to have its celebration,–one little anticipated, but according well with the experiences which had preceded it, and serving to make it all the more impressive and its promises more sacred.

Refused the use of churches and lecture-rooms, and denied the privilege of hiring halls for their meetings, the abolitionists of Philadelphia, with other friends of free discussion, formed an association, and built, at an expense of forty thousand dollars, a beautiful hall, to be used for free speech on any and every subject not of an immoral character. Daniel Neall was the president of this association, and William Dorsey the secretary. The hall, one of the finest buildings in the city, was situated at the southwest corner of Delaware, Sixth, and Harris streets, between Cherry and Sassafras streets.

It was opened for the first time on Angelina Grimke’s wedding-day, and was filled with one of the largest audiences ever assembled in Philadelphia.

As soon as the president of the association had taken his seat, the secretary arose and explained the uses and purposes the hall was expected to serve. He said:–

“A number of individuals of all sects, and those of no sect, of all parties, and those of no party, being desirous that the citizens of Philadelphia should possess a room wherein the principles of _liberty_ and _equality of civil rights_ could be freely discussed, and the evils of slavery fearlessly portrayed, have erected this building, which we are now about to dedicate to liberty and the rights of man…. A majority of the stockholders are mechanics or working-men, and (as is the case in almost every other good work) a number are women.”

The secretary then proceeded to read letters from John Quincy Adams, Thaddeus Stevens, Gerrit Smith, Theodore Weld, and others, who had been invited to deliver addresses, but who, from various causes, were obliged to decline. That from Weld was characteristic of the earnestness of the man. After stating that for a year and a half he had been prevented from speaking in public on account of an affection of the throat, and must therefore decline the invitation of the committee, he adds:–

“I exult in the erection of your ‘temple of freedom,’ and the more, as it is the first and only one, in a republic of fifteen millions, consecrated to free discussion and equal rights.”

“For years they have been banished from our halls of legislation and of justice, from our churches and our pulpits. It is befitting that the city of Benezet and of Franklin should be the first to open an asylum where the hunted exiles may find a home. God grant that your Pennsylvania Hall may be _free, indeed!_”

“The empty name is everywhere,–_free_ government, _free_ men, _free_ speech, _free_ people, _free_ schools, and _free_ churches. Hollow counterfeits all! _Free!_ It is the climax of irony, and its million echoes are hisses and jeers, even from the earth’s ends. _Free! Blot it out_. Words are the signs of _things_. The substance has gone! Let fools and madmen clutch at shadows. The husk must rustle the more when the kernel and the ear are gone. Rome’s loudest shout for liberty was when she murdered it, and drowned its death shrieks in her hoarse huzzas. She never raised her hands so high to swear allegiance to freedom as when she gave the death-stab, and madly leaped upon its corpse; and her most delirious dance was among the clods her hands had cast upon its coffin. _Free!_ The word and sound are omnipresent masks and mockers. An impious lie, unless they stand for free _lynch law_ and free _murder_, for they _are_ free.

“But I’ll hold. The times demand brief speech, but mighty deeds. On, my brethren! uprear your temple. “Your brother in the sacred strife for all,


David Paul Brown, of Philadelphia, was invited to deliver the dedicatory address, which, with other exercises, occupied the mornings and evening of three days, and included addresses by Garrison, Thomas P. Hunt, Arnold Buffum, Alanson St. Clair, and others, on slavery, temperance, the Indians, right of free discussion, and kindred topics. On the second day, an appropriate and soul-stirring poem by John G. Whittier was read by C.C. Burleigh. The first lines will give an idea of the spirit of the whole poem, one of the finest efforts Whittier ever made:–

“Not with the splendors of the days of old, The spoil of nations and barbaric gold, No weapons wrested from the fields of blood, Where dark and stern the unyielding Roman stood, And the proud eagles of his cohorts saw A world war-wasted, crouching to his law; Nor blazoned car, nor banners floating gay, Like those which swept along the Appian Way, When, to the welcome of imperial Rome, The victor warrior came in triumph home, And trumpet peal, and shoutings wild and high, Stirred the blue quiet of th’ Italian sky, But calm and grateful, prayerful, and sincere, As Christian freemen only, gathering here, We dedicate our fair and lofty hall,
Pillar and arch, entablature and wall, As Virtue’s shrine, as Liberty’s abode, Sacred to Freedom, and to Freedom’s God.”

The Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women was then holding a session in the city, and among the members present were some of the brightest and noblest women of the day, women with courage as calm and high to dare, as with hearts tender to feel for human woe. The Convention occupied the lecture-room of Pennsylvania Hall, under the main saloon. A strong desire having been expressed by many citizens to hear some of these able pleaders for the slave, notice was given that there would be a meeting in the main saloon on the evening of the 16th, at which Angelina, E.G. Weld, Maria Chapman, and others would speak.

Up to the time of this announcement, no apprehension of any disturbance had been felt by the managers of the hall. So far all the meetings had been conducted without interruption; nor could anyone have supposed it possible that in a city renowned for its order and law, and possessing a large and efficient police force, a public outrage upon an assemblage of respectable citizens, many of them women, could be perpetrated. But it was soon to be shown how deeply the spirit of slavery had infused itself into the minds of the people of the free States, leading them to disregard the rights of individuals and to wantonly violate the sacred principles guaranteed by the Constitution of the country.

During the day some threats of violence were thrown out, and _written_ placards were posted about the city inviting interference with the proposed meeting, _forcibly if necessary_. But this was regarded only as the expression of malice on the part of a few, or perhaps of an individual, and occasioned no alarm. Still, the precaution was taken to request the mayor to hold his police force in readiness to protect the meeting in case of need. The day passed quietly. Long before the time announced for the meeting, the hall, capable of containing three thousand people, was thronged, and, by the time the speakers arrived, every seat was filled, every inch of standing room was occupied, and thousands went away from the doors unable to obtain admittance. The audience was for the most part a highly respectable and intelligent one, and, notwithstanding the great crowd, was exceedingly quiet. William Lloyd Garrison opened the meeting with a short but characteristic speech, during which he was frequently interrupted by hisses and groans; and when he ended, some efforts were made to break up the meeting. In the midst of the confusion, Maria W. Chapman arose, calm, dignified, and, with a wave of her hand, as though to still the noise, began to speak, but, before she had gone far, yells from the outside proclaimed the arrival there of a disorderly rabble, and at once the confusion inside became so great, that, although the brave woman continued her speech, she was not heard except by those immediately around her.

Sarah Grimke thus wrote of Mrs. Chapman’s appearance on that occasion: “She is the most beautiful woman I ever saw; the perfection of sweetness and intelligence being blended in her speaking countenance. She arose amid the yells and shouts of the infuriated mob, the crash of windows and the hurling of stones. She looked to me like an angelic being descended amid that tempest of passion in all the dignity of conscious superiority.”

Then Angelina Weld, the bride of three days, came forward, and so great was the effect of her pure, beautiful presence and quiet, graceful manner, that in a few moments the confusion within the hall had subsided. With deep solemnity, and in words of burning eloquence, she gave her testimony against the awful wickedness of an institution which had no secrets from her. She was frequently interrupted by the mob, but their yells and shouts only furnished her with metaphors which she used with unshrinking power. More stones were thrown at the windows, more glass crashed, but she only paused to ask:–

“What is a mob? What would the breaking of every window be? Any evidence that we are wrong, or that slavery is a good and wholesome institution? What if that mob should now burst in upon us, break up our meeting, and commit violence upon our persons–would this be anything compared with what the slaves endure? No, no: and we do not remember them ‘as bound with them,’ if we shrink in the time of peril, or feel unwilling to sacrifice ourselves, if need be, for their sake. I thank the Lord that there is yet life enough left to feel the truth, even though it rages at it–that conscience is not so completely seared as to be unmoved by the truth of the living God.”

Here a shower of stones was thrown through the windows, and there was some disturbance in the audience, but quiet was again restored, and Angelina proceeded, and spoke for over an hour, making no further reference to the noise without, and only showing that she noticed it by raising her own voice so that it could be heard throughout the hall.

Not once was a tremor or a change of color perceptible, and though the missiles continued to fly through the broken sashes, and the hootings and yellings increased outside, so powerfully did her words and tones hold that vast audience, that, imminent as seemed their peril, scarcely a man or woman moved to depart. She sat down amid applause that drowned all the noise outside.

Abby Kelly, then quite a young woman, next arose and said a few words, her first public utterances. She was followed by gentle Lucretia Mott in a short but most earnest speech, and then this memorable meeting, the first of the kind where men and women acted together as moral beings, closed.

There was a dense crowd in the streets around the hall as the immense audience streamed out, but though screams and all sorts of appalling noises were made, no violence was offered, and all reached their homes in safety.

But the mob remained, many of its wretched members staying all night, assaulting every belated colored man who came along. The next morning the dregs of the populace, and some respectable _looking_ men again assembled around the doomed hall, but the usual meetings were held, and even the convention of women assembled in the lecture room to finish up their business. The evening was to have been occupied by a public meeting of the Wesleyan Anti-Slavery Society of Philadelphia, but as the day waned to its close, the indications of approaching disturbance became more and more alarming. The crowd around the building increased, and the secret agents of slavery were busy inflaming the passions of the rabble against the abolitionists, and inciting it to outrage. Seeing this, and realizing the danger which threatened, the managers of the hall gave the building over to the protection of the mayor of the city, _at his request_. Of course the proposed meeting was postponed. All the mayor did was to appear in front of the hall, and, in a friendly tone, express to the mob the hope that it would not do anything disorderly, saying that he relied upon the men he saw before him, as his _policemen_, and he wished them “good evening!” The mob gave “three cheers for the mayor,” and, as soon as he was out of sight, extinguished the gas lights in front of the building. The rest is soon told. Doors and windows were broken through, and with wild yells the reckless horde dashed in, plundered the Repository, scattering the books in every direction, and, mounting the stairways and entering the beautiful hall, piled combustibles on the Speaker’s forum, and applied the torch to them, shrieking like demons,–as they were, for the time. A moment more, and the flames roared and crackled through the building, and though it was estimated that fifteen thousand persons were present, and though the fire companies were early on the scene, not one effort was made to save the structure so recently erected, at such great cost, and consecrated to such Christian uses. In a few hours the smouldering walls alone were left.

Angelina Weld never again appeared in public. An accident soon after her marriage caused an injury of such a nature that her nervous system was permanently impaired, and she was ever after obliged to avoid all excitement or over-exertion. The period of her public labors was short, but how fruitful, how full of blessings to the cause of the slave and to the many who espoused it through her powerful appeals! Great was her grief; for, knowing now her capabilities, she had looked forward to renewed and still more successful work; but she accepted with sweet submission the cross laid upon her. Not a murmur arose to her lips. She was content to leave all to the Lord. He could find some new work for her to do. She would trust Him, and patiently wait.

The loss of the services of one so richly endowed, so devoted, and so successful, was deeply felt by the friends of emancipation, and especially as at this important epoch efficient speakers were sorely needed, and two of the most efficient, Weld and Burleigh, were already, from overwork, taken from the platform.

But though denied the privilege of again raising her voice in behalf of the oppressed, Angelina continued to plead for them through her pen. She could never forget the cause that could never forget her, and to her writings was transferred much of the force and eloquence of her speaking.

Immediately after the destruction of Pennsylvania Hall, Mr. and Mrs. Weld, accompanied by Sarah Grimke, paid a visit to Mr. Weld’s parents in Manlius, from which place, Sarah, writing to Jane Smith, says:–

“O Jane, it looks like almost too great a blessing for us three to be together in some quiet, humble habitation, living to the glory of God, and promoting the happiness of those around us; to be spiritually united, and to be pursuing with increasing zeal the great work of the abolition of slavery.”

The “quiet, humble habitation” was found at Fort Lee, on the Hudson, and there the happy trio settled down for their first housekeeping.


They were scarcely settled amid their new surroundings before the sisters received a formal notice of their disownment by the Society of Friends because of Angelina’s marriage. The notification, signed by two prominent women elders of the Society, expressed regret that Sarah and Angelina had not more highly prized their right of membership, and added an earnest desire that they might come to a sense of their real state, and manifest a disposition to condemn their deviations from the path of duty.

Angelina replied without delay that they wished the discipline of the Society to have free course with regard to them. “It is our joy,” she wrote, “that we have committed no offence for which Christ Jesus will disown us as members of the household of faith. If you regret that we have valued our right of membership so little, we equally regret that our Society should have adopted a discipline which has no foundation in the Bible or in reason; and we earnestly hope the time may come when the simple Gospel rule with regard to marriage, ‘Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers,’ will be as conscientiously enforced as that sectarian one which prohibits the union of the Lord’s own people if their shibboleth be not exactly the same.

“We are very respectfully, in that love which knows no distinction in color, clime, or creed, your friends,



It will be noticed that in this reply Angelina avoids the Quaker phraseology, and neither she nor Sarah ever after used it, except occasionally in correspondence with a Quaker friend.

Thus ended their connection with the Society of Friends. From that time they never attached themselves to any religious organization, but rested contentedly in the simple religion of Christ, illustrating by every act of their daily lives how near they were to the heart of all true religion.

As I am approaching the limits prescribed for this volume, I can, in the space remaining to me, only note with any detail the chief incidents of the years which followed Angelina’s marriage. I would like to describe at length the beautiful family life the trio created, and which disproved so clearly the current assertion that interest in public matters disqualifies woman for home duties or make these distasteful to her. In the case of Sarah and Angelina those duties were entered upon with joy and gratitude, and with the same conscientious zeal that had characterized their public labors. The simplicity and frugality, too, which marked all their domestic arrangements, and which neither thought it necessary to apologize for at any time, recall to one’s mind the sweet pictures of Arcadian life over which goodness, purity, and innocence presided, creating an atmosphere of perfect inward and outward peace.

Sarah’s letters detail their every-day occupations, their division of labor, their culinary experiments, often failures,–for of practical domestic economy they had little knowledge, though they enjoyed the new experience like happy children. She tells of rambles and picnics along the Hudson, climbing rocks to get a fine view, halting under the trees to read together for a while, taking their simple dinner in some shady nook, and returning weary but happy to their “dear little No. 3,” as she designates their house.

“Oh, Jane,” she writes, “words cannot tell the goodness of the Lord to us since we have sat down under the shadow of our own roof, and gathered around our humble board. Peace has flowed sweetly through our souls. The Lord has been in the midst, and blessed us with his presence, and the daily aspiration of our souls is: Lord, show us thy will concerning us.” And in another letter she says, “We are delighted with our arrangement to do without a girl. Angelina boils potatoes to admiration, and says she finds cooking much easier than she expected.”

During the summer they were gratified by a visit from their good friend Jane, who, it appears, gave them some useful and much-needed lessons in the art of cookery. But about this time Sarah became converted to the Graham system of diet, which Mr. “Weld had adopted three, and Mrs. Weld two years before. Sarah thus writes of it:–

“We have heard Graham lectures, and read Alcott’s ‘Young Housekeeper,’ and are truly thankful that the Lord has converted us to this mode of living, and that we are all of one heart and one mind. We believe it is the most conducive to health, and, besides, it is such an emancipation of woman from the toils of the kitchen, and saves so much precious time for purposes of more importance than eating and drinking. We have a great variety of dishes, and, to our taste, very savory. We can make good bread, and this with milk is an excellent meal. This week I am cook, and am writing this while my beans are boiling and pears stewing for dinner. We use no tea or coffee, and take our food cool.”

She then tells of the arrival one day of two friends from the city, just as they had sat down to their simple meal of rice and molasses. “But,” she says, “we were very glad to see them, and with bread and milk, and pie without shortening, and hominy, we contrived to give them enough, and as they were pretty hungry they partook of it with tolerable appetite.” Answering some inquiries from Jane Smith, Angelina writes:–

“As to how I have made out with cooking, it so happens that labor (planting a garden) gives Theodore such an appetite that everything is sweet to him, so that my rice and asparagus, potatoes, mush, and Indian bread all taste well, though some might think them not fit to eat.”

They had but one cooking day, when enough was generally prepared to last a week, so that very little time and mind was given to creature comforts; in fact, no more than was necessary to the preservation of health. Their motto literally was “to eat to live,” and this they felt to be a part of that non-conformity to the world of which the apostle speaks, and after which Sarah, at least, felt she must still strive. Their furniture corresponded with the simplicity of their table. Angelina writes shortly after her marriage:–

“We ordered our furniture to be made of cherry, and quite enjoy the cheapness of our outfit as well as our manner of life; for the less we spend, the less the Anti-Slavery Society will have to pay my Theodore for his labors as editor of all the extra publications of the Society.”

Thus some high or unselfish motive inspired all their conduct and influenced every arrangement. Nothing superfluous or merely ornamental found a place with these true and zealous followers of Him whose precepts guided their lives. Everything in doors and out served a special purpose of utility, or suggested some duty or great moral aim. Angelina was exceedingly fond of flowers, but refrained from cultivating them, because of the time required, which she thought could be better employed. She felt she had no right to use one moment for her own selfish gratification which could be given to some more necessary work. Therefore, though both sisters were peculiarly gifted with a love of the beautiful, as their frequent descriptions of natural scenery show, they contented themselves, from principle, with the enjoyment of “glorious sunsets,” and with the flowers of the field and wayside. Later they learned a different appreciation of all the innocent pleasures of life; but at the time I am describing, they had just emerged from Quaker asceticism, and in the flush of their new religion, and looking upon their past years as almost wasted, they were eager only to make amends for them. In one of her letters to her English friend, Angelina acknowledges the present from her of a large picture of a _Kneeling Slave_, and adds:–

“We purpose pasting it on binder’s boards, binding it with colored paper, and fixing it over our mantelpiece. It is just such a speaking monument of suffering as we want in our parlor, and suits my fireboard most admirably. I first covered this with plain paper, and then arranged as well as I could about forty anti-slavery pictures upon it. I never saw one like it, but we hope other abolitionists will make them when they see what an ornamental and impressive article of furniture can thus be manufactured. We want those who come into our house to see at a glance that we are on the side of the oppressed and the poor.”

Sarah Douglass spent a day with them in September, and as I can have no more fitting place to show how conscientious were these rare spirits in their practical testimony against the color prejudice, I will quote a few passages from a letter written to Sarah Douglass after her departure from the circle where she had been treated as a most honored guest. Sarah Grimke begins as follows:–

“Thy letter, my beloved Sarah, was truly acceptable as an evidence of thy love for us, and because it told us one of our Lord’s dear children had been comforted in being with us. It would have been truly grateful to have had thee a longer time with us, and we hope thy next visit may be less brief. By the way, dear, as I love frankness, I am going to tell thee what I have thought in reading thy note. It seemed to me thy proposal ‘to spend a day’ with us was made under a little feeling something like this: ‘Well, after all, I am not quite certain I shall be an acceptable visitor.’ I can only say that it is no surprise to me that thou shouldst be beset with such a temptation, but set a strong guard against this entrance to thy heart, lest the adversary poison all the springs of comfort. I want thee to rise above the suspicions which are so naturally aroused. They are among the subtle devices of Satan, by which he alienates us from Jesus, and makes us go mourning on our way with the language in our hearts: ‘Is there not a cause?'”

Angelina adds:–

“MY DEAR SARAH,–I can fully unite with my precious sister in all she has said relative to thy late visit to us. Theodore and I both felt surprised and disappointed that thou proposedst spending but one day with us when we had expected a visit of a week. It was indeed a comfort to receive such a letter from thee, dear, and yet there was much of pain mingled in the feeling. Thou thankest us for our ‘Christian conduct.’ In what did it consist? In receiving and treating thee as an equal, a sister beloved in the Lord? Oh, how humbling to receive such thanks! What a crowd of reflections throng the mind as we inquire, _Why_ does her full heart thus overflow with gratitude? Yes, how irresistibly are we led to contemplate the woes which iron-hearted prejudice inflicts on the oppressed of our land, the hidden sorrows they endure–the full cup of bitterness which is wrung out to them by the hands of professed followers of Him who is no respecter of persons. And oh, how these reflections ought to lead us to labor and to pray that the time may soon come when thou canst no longer write _such_ a letter! The Lord in his mercy has made our little household _one_ in sentiment on this subject, and we know we have been blessed in the exercise of those Christian feelings which He hath taught us to cherish, not only towards the outraged people of color, but towards that large class of individuals who serve in families, and are, at the same time, almost completely separated from human society and sympathy so far as their employers are concerned.

“Let me tell thee, dear Sarah, how much good it did me to find that thy visit had made thee love my precious husband as a brother, and afforded thee an opportunity to _feel_ what manner of spirit is his. Now I greatly want thy dear mother to know him too, and cannot but believe she will come and visit us next summer.”

The gratitude of Sarah Douglass for the reception given her at Fort Lee was not surprising, considering how different such kindness was from the treatment she and her excellent mother had always received from the Society of Friends, of which they were members. Scarcely anything more damaging to the Christian spirit of the Society can be found than the testimony of this mother and daughter, which Sarah Grimke obtained and wrote out, but, I believe, never published.

Before his marriage, Mr. Weld lodged, on principle, in a colored family in New York, even submitting to the inconvenience of having no heat in his room in winter, and bearing with singular charity and patience what Sarah calls the sanctimonious pride and Pharisaical aristocracy of his hosts. He, also, and the sisters when they were in the city, attended a colored church, which, however, became to Sarah, at least, a place of such “spiritual famine” that she gave up going.

In the winter of 1839-40, when it became necessary to have more help in the household, a colored woman, Betsy Dawson by name, was sent for. She had been a slave in Colonel Grimke’s family, and, falling to the share of Mrs. Frost when the estate was settled up, was by her emancipated. She was received into the family at Fort Lee as a friend, and so treated in every respect. Sarah expresses the pleasure it was to have one as a helper who knew and loved them all, and adds: “Besides I cannot tell thee how thankful we are that our heavenly Father has put it in our power to have one who was once a slave in our family to sit at our table and be with us as a sister cherished, to place her on an entire equality with, us in social intercourse, and do all we can to show her we feel for her as we, under like circumstances, would desire her to feel for us. I don’t know what M.C. [a friend from New York] thought of our having her at table and in our parlor just like one of ourselves.”

Some time later, Angelina writes of another of the family slaves, Stephen, to whom they gave a home, putting him to do the cooking, lest, being unaccustomed to a Northern climate, he should suffer by exposure to outdoor work. He proved an eyesore in every way, but they retained him as long as it was possible to do so, and bore with him patiently, as no one else would have him. Mrs. Weld frequently allowed him to hire out for four or five hours a day to husk corn, etc., and was glad to give him this opportunity to earn something extra while she did his work at home. In short, wherever and whenever they could testify to their convictions of duty on this point, it was done unhesitatingly and zealously, without fear or favor of any man. We might consider the incidents I have related, and a dozen similar ones I could give, as evidence only of a desire to perform a religious duty, to manifest obedience to the command to do as they would be done by, while beneath still lay the bias of early training sustained by the almost universal feeling concerning the inferiority of the negro race. With people of such pure religious dedication, and such exalted views, it was perhaps not difficult to treat their ex-slaves as human beings, and the fact that they did so may not excite much wonder. But there came a time, then far in their future, when the sincerity of their convictions upon this matter of prejudice was most triumphantly vindicated.

Such a vindication even they, with all their knowledge of the hidden evils of slavery, never dreamed could ever be required of _them_, but the manner in which they met the tremendous test was the crowning glory of their lives. In all the biographies I have read, such a manifestation of the spirit of Jesus Christ does not appear. This will be narrated in its proper place.

Happy as the sisters were in their home, it must not be supposed that they had settled down to a life of ease and contented privacy, abandoning altogether the great work of their lives. Far from it. The time economized from household duties was devoted chiefly to private labor for the cause, from the public advocacy of which they felt they had only stepped aside for a time. Neither had any idea that this public work was over. Angelina writes to her friend in England soon after her marriage:–

“I cannot tell thee how I love this private life–how I have thanked my heavenly Father for this respite from public labor, or how earnestly I have prayed that whilst I am thus dwelling at ease I may not forget the captives of my land, or be unwilling to go forth again on the high places of the field, to combat the giant sin of Slavery with the smooth stones of the river of Truth, if called to do so by Him who put me forth and went before me in days that are past. My dear Theodore entertains the noblest views of the rights and responsibilities of woman, and will never lay a straw in the way of my lecturing. He has many times strengthened my hands in the work, and often tenderly admonished me to keep my eye upon my great Leader, and my heart in a state of readiness to go forth whenever I am called out. I humbly trust I may, but as earnestly desire to be preserved from going before I hear a voice saying unto me, ‘This is the way, walk in it, and I will be thy shield and thy buckler.’ This was the promise which was given me before, and how faithfully it was fulfilled, my soul knoweth right well.”

Sarah too, writes to Sarah Douglass–

“I have thought much of my present situation, laid aside from active service, but I see no pointing of the divine finger to go forth, and I believe the present dispensation of rest has been granted to us not only as a reward for past faithfulness, but as a means of personal advancement in holiness, a time of deep searching of heart, when the soul may contemplate itself, and seek nearer and fuller and higher communion with its God.”

And again she says:–

“It is true my nature shrinks from public work, but whenever the mandate goes forth to declare on the housetops that which I have heard in the ear, I shall not dare to hold back. I conclude that whenever my Father needs my services, He will prepare me to obey the call by exercise of mind.”

In the meanwhile Sarah finished and published a most important contribution to the arguments on the woman’s rights subject. This was a small volume of letters on the “Equality of the Sexes,” commenced during her lecturing tour, and addressed to Mary S. Parker, president of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society. Written in a gentle, reverent spirit, but clothed in Sarah’s usual forcible language, they not only greatly aided the cause which lay so near her heart, but relieved and strengthened many tender consciences by their strong arguments.

An extract or two from a letter written to Sarah by Angelina and Theodore early in the autumn of 1838 will show the tender relations existing between these three, and which continued undisturbed by all the changes and trials of succeeding years.

In September, Sarah went to Philadelphia to attend the Annual Anti-Slavery Convention. Angelina writes to her a few days after her departure:–

“We have just come up from our evening meal, my beloved sister, and are sitting in our little study for a while before taking our moonlight ramble on the river bank. After thou left us, I cleared up the dishes, and then swept the house; got down to the kitchen just in time for dinner, which, though eaten alone, was, I must confess, very much relished, for exercise gives a good appetite, thou knowest. I then set my beans to boil whilst I dusted, and was upstairs waiting, ready dressed, for the sound of the ‘Echo’s’ piston. Soon I heard it, and blew my whistle, which was _not_ responded to, and I began to fear my Theodore was not on board. But I blew again, and the glad response came merrily over the water, and I thought I saw him. In a little while he came, and gave me all your parting messages. On Second Day the weather was almost cold, and we were glad to take a run at noon up the Palisades and sun ourselves on the rock at the first opening. Returning, we gathered some field beans, and some apples for stewing, as our fruit was nearly out. In the evening it was so cool that we thought a fire would be more comfortable, so we sat in the kitchen, paring apples, shelling beans, and talking over the Bible argument;[8] and, as we had a fire, I thought we had better stew the apples at once. This was done to save time the next day, but I burnt them sadly. However, thou knowest they were just as nice to our Theodore, who _never_ complains of anything. Third Day evening we took a walk up the Palisades. The moon shone most beautifully, throwing her mantle of light all abroad over the blue arch of heaven, the gently flowing river, and the woods and vales around us. I could not help thinking, if earth was so lovely and bright, what must be the glories of that upper Temple which needeth not the light of the sun or of the moon. O sister, shall we ever wash our robes so white in the blood of the Lamb as to be clean enough to enter that pure and holy Temple of the Most High? We returned to our dear little home, and went to bed by the lamp of heaven; for we needed no other, so brightly did she shine through our windows. We remembered thee, dear sister, in our little seasons of prayer at the opening and closing of each day. We pray the Lord to bring thee back to us in the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of peace, and to make our house a _home_ to thy weary, tossed, afflicted spirit. We feel it a great blessing to have thee under our roof. Thy room looks very desolate; for, though the sun shines brightly in it, I find, after all, _thou_ art the light of it.”

[8] This was the argument which Angelina heard Mr. Weld make before the A.S. Convention in New York two years before, and which was afterwards published by the A.A.S. Society. He was now revising it for a new edition. It made many converts to emancipation. Among them was the Rev. Dr. Brisbane of South Carolina, a slave-owner, who, after reading it, sat down to answer and refute it; but, before proceeding half way, he became convinced that he was wrong, and Weld right. Acting upon this conviction, he freed his slaves, went to Cincinnati, joined the abolition ranks, and became one of their most eloquent advocates.

Theodore adds a postscript, addresses Sarah as “My dearly loved sister,” and says, “As dear Angy remarks, your room does look so chill and desolate, and your place at table, and your chair in our little morning and evening circle, that we talk about it a dozen times a day. But we rejoice that the Master put it into your heart to go and give your testimony for our poor, suffering brothers and sisters, wailing under bonds, and we pray without ceasing that He who sent will teach, strengthen, and help you greatly to do for Him and the bleeding slave.”

Debarred from lecturing by the condition of his throat, Mr. Weld was a most untiring worker in the Anti-Slavery office in New York, from which he received a small salary. His time out of office hours was employed in writing for the different anti-slavery papers, and in various editorial duties. Soon after his marriage he began the preparation of a book, which, when issued, produced perhaps a greater sensation throughout the country than anything that had yet been written or spoken. This was, “American Slavery as it is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses,” a book of two hundred and ten pages, and consisting of a collection of facts relating to the actual condition and treatment of slaves; facts drawn from slaveholders themselves, and from Southern publications. The design was to make the South condemn herself, and never was success more complete. Of all the lists of crimes, all the records of abominations, of moral depravity, of marvellous inhumanity, of utter insensibility to the commonest instincts of nature, the civilized world has never read anything equal to it. Placed by the side of Fox’s “Book of Martyrs,” it outrivals it in all its revolting characters, and calls up the burning blush of shame for our country and its boasted Christian civilization. Notwithstanding all that had been written on the subject, the public was still comparatively ignorant of the sufferings of the slaves, and the barbarities inflicted upon them. Mr. Weld thought the state of the abolition cause demanded a work which would not only prove by argument that slavery and cruelty were inseparable, but which would contain a mass of incontrovertible facts, that would exhibit the horrid brutality of the system. Nearly all the papers, most of them of recent date, from which the extracts were taken, were deposited at the office of the American Anti-Slavery Society in New York, and all who thought the atrocities described in Weld’s book were incredible, were invited to call and examine for themselves.

This book was the most effective answer ever given to the appeal made against free discussion, based on the Southampton massacre. It was, in fact, an offset of the horrors of that bloody affair, giving, as it did, a picture of the deeper horrors of slavery. It was the first adequate disclosure of this “bloodiest picture in the book of time,” which had yet been made, and all who read it felt that, fearful as was the Virginia tragedy, the system which provoked it included many things far worse, and demanded investigation and discussion. Issued in pamphlet form, the “Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses,” was extensively circulated over the country, and most advantageously used by anti-slavery lecturers and advocates; and it is not too much to say that by awakening the humanity and pride of the people to end this national disgrace, it made much easier the formation of the anti-slavery political party.

In the preparation of this work, Mr. Weld received invaluable assistance from his wife and sister. Not only was the testimony of their personal observation and experience given over their own names, but many files of Southern papers were industriously examined for such facts as were needed, and which Mr. Weld arranged. Early in January, 1839, Sarah writes:–

“I do not think we ever labored more assiduously for the slave than we have done this fall and winter, and, although our work is of the kind that may be privately performed, yet we find the same holy peace in doing it which we found in the public advocacy of the cause.”

Referring a little later to this work, she says: “We have been almost too busy to look out on the beautiful winter landscape, and have been wrought up by our daily researches almost to a frenzy of justice, intolerance, and enthusiasm to crush the viper that is eating out the vitals of the nation. Oh, what a blessed privilege to be engaged in labor for the oppressed! We often think, if the slaves are never emancipated, we are richly rewarded by the hallowed influence of abolition principles on our own hearts.”

In a recent letter to me, Mr. Weld makes some interesting statements respecting this work. I will give them in his own words:–

“The fact is, those dear souls spent six months, averaging more than six hours a day, in searching through thousands upon thousands of Southern newspapers, marking and cutting out facts of slave-holding disclosures for the book. I engaged of the Superintendent of the New York Commercial Reading-Room all his papers published in our Southern States and Territories. These, after remaining upon the files one month, were taken off and sold. Thus was gathered the raw material for the manufacture of ‘Slavery As It Is.’ After the work was finished, we were curious to know how many newspapers had been examined. So we went up to our attic and took an inventory of bundles, as they were packed heap upon heap. When our count had reached _twenty thousand_ newspapers, we said: ‘There, let that suffice.’ Though the book had in it many thousand facts thus authenticated by the slave-holders themselves, yet it contained but a tiny fraction of the nameless atrocities gathered from the papers examined.”

Besides this absorbing occupation, the sisters busied themselves that winter getting up a petition to Congress for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, and walked many miles, day after day, to obtain signatures, meeting with patience, humility, and sweetness the frequent rebuffs of the rude and the ignorant, feeling only pity for them, and gratitude to God who had touched and softened their own hearts and enlightened their minds.

They received repeated invitations from the different anti-slavery organizations to again enter the lecture field, and great disappointment was felt by all who had once listened to them that they should have retired from public work.

Sarah speaks of attending “meeting,” as, from habit, she called it, and doubtless they all went regularly, as Mr. Weld was a communicant of the Presbyterian Church, and Mrs. Weld and Sarah were still sound on all the fundamental points of Christian doctrine. During some portion of every Sunday, Mrs. Weld was in the habit of visiting among the very poor, white and colored, and preaching to them the Gospel of peace and good will. In her peculiarly tender and persuasive way, she opened to those unhappy and benighted souls the promises and hopes which supported her, and lavished upon them the treasures of an eloquence that thousands had and would still have crowded to listen to. There were none to applaud in those sorrowful abodes, but her words of courage and consolation lifted many a despondent heart from the depths, while her own faith in the love and mercy of her heavenly Father brought confidence and comfort to many a benumbed and wavering soul.

In December, 1839, the happiness of the little household was increased by the birth of a son, who received the name of Charles Stuart, in loving remembrance of the eminent English philanthropist, with whom Mr. Weld had been as a brother, and whom he regarded as living as near the angels as mortal man could live. The advent of this child was not only an inexpressible blessing to the affectionate hearts of the father and mother, but to Sarah it seemed truly a mark of divine love to her, compensating her for the home ties and affections once so nearly within her grasp, and still often mourned for. She describes her feelings as she pressed the infant in her arms and folded him to her breast as a rhapsody of wild delight. “Oh, the ecstacy and the gratitude!” she exclaimed: “How I opened the little blanket and peeped in to gaze, with swimming eyes, at my treasure, and looked upon that face forever so dear!”

For months before the birth of her child, Mrs. Weld had read carefully different authors on the treatment of children, and felt herself prepared at every point with the best theories derived from Combes’ “Physiological and Moral Management of Infancy,” and kindred works. It is rather amusing to read how systematically this baby was trained, and how little he appreciated all the wise theories; how he protested against going to sleep by rule; how he wouldn’t be bathed in cold water; how he was fed, a tablespoonful at a time, five times during the twenty-four hours,–at 8, 12, 4, 8, and 3 in the morning; how his fretting at last induced his Aunt Sarah to take the responsibility of giving him a little license with his bottle, when, horrified at his gluttony, she was, at the same time, convinced that the child had been slowly starving ever since his birth. Allowed more indulgence in food, he soon stopped fretting, and became a healthy, lively baby.

Angelina, writing to a friend, speaks of the blessed influence the child was exerting over them all. “The idea,” she says, “of a baby exercising moral influence never came into my mind until I felt its power on my own heart. I used to think all a parent’s reward for early care and anxiety was reaped in after-life, save the enjoyment of an infant as a pretty plaything. But the Lord has taught me differently, and woe be unto me if I do not profit by the instructions of this little teacher sent from God.”

It was about this time that the injury referred to in the last chapter was received, which frustrated all Angelina’s hopes and plans for continued public service for the slave, and condemned her, with all her rare intellectual gifts, to a quiet life. The sweet submission with which she bore this trial proved how great was the peace which possessed her soul, and kept her ready for whatever it seemed good for the Father to send her. Henceforth, shut out from the praises and plaudits of men, in her own home, among her neighbors and among the poor and afflicted, quietly and unobtrusively she fulfilled every law of love and duty. And though during the remainder of her life she was subject to frequent weakness and intense pain, all was borne with such fortitude and patience that only her husband and sister knew that she suffered.

In the latter part of February, 1840, Mr. Weld, having purchased a farm of fifty acres at Belleville, New Jersey, removed his family there. Angelina, announcing the change to Jane Smith, says:–

“Yes, we have left the sweet little village of Fort Lee, a spot never to be forgotten by me as the place where my Theodore and I first lived together, and the birthplace of my darling babe, the scene of my happiest days. There, too, my precious sister ministered with untiring faithfulness to my wants when sick, and there, too, I welcomed _thee_ for the first time under my roof.”

To their new home they brought the simplicity of living to which they had adhered in their old one, a simplicity which, with their more commodious house, enabled them to exercise the broad hospitality which they had been obliged to deny themselves in a measure at Fort Lee. All the good deeds done under this sacred name of hospitality during their fourteen years’ residence at Belleville can never be known. Few ever so diligently sought, or so cheerfully accepted, opportunities for the exercise of every good word and work. Scarcely a day passed that they did not feel called upon to make some sacrifice of comfort or convenience for the comfort or convenience of others; and more than once the sacrifice involved the risk of health and life. But in true humility and with an unwavering trust in God, they looked away from themselves and beyond ordinary considerations.

One of their first acts, after their removal, was to take back to their service the incompetent Stephen whom they had been forced to discharge from Fort Lee, and who had lived a precarious life afterwards. They gave him work on the farm, paid him the usual wages, and patiently endeavored to correct his faults. A young nephew in delicate health was also added to their household; and, a few months later, Angelina having heard that an old friend and her daughter in Charleston were in pecuniary distress and feeble health, wrote and offered them a home with her for a year.

“They have no means of support, and are anxious to leave Carolina,” wrote Angelina to Jane Smith; “we will keep them until their health is recruited, their minds rested, and some situation found for them where they can earn their own living. We know not,” she adds, “whom else the Lord may send us, and only pray Him to help us to fulfil His will towards all whose lot may be cast among us.”

The visitors to the Belleville farm–chiefly old and new anti-slavery friends–were numerous, and were always received with a cordiality which left no room to doubt its sincerity.

At one time they received into their family a poor young man from Jamaica, personally a stranger, but of whose labors as a self-appointed missionary among the recently emancipated slaves of the West Indies they had heard. He had labored for three years, supporting himself as he could, until he was utterly broken down in health, when he came back to die. His friendless situation appealed to the warmest sympathy of the Welds, and he was brought to their hospitable home. The pleasantest room in the house was given to him, and every attention bestowed upon him, until death came to his relief.

The people of their neighborhood soon learned to know where they could confidently turn for help in any kind of distress. It would be difficult to tell the number of times that one or the other of the great-hearted trio responded to the summons from a sick or dying bed, and gave without stint of their sympathy, their time, and their labor.

Once, following only her own conviction of duty, Angelina left her home to go and nurse a wretched colored man and his wife, ill with small-pox and abandoned by everyone. She stayed with them night and day until they were so far recovered as to be able to help themselves.

What a picture is this! That humble cabin with its miserable occupants–and they negroes–ill with a loathsome disease, suffering, praying for help, but deserted by neighbors and friends. Suddenly a fair, delicate face bends over them; a sweet, low voice bids them be comforted, and gentle hands lift the cooling draught to their parched lips, bathe their fevered brows, make comfortable their poor bed, and then, angel as she appears to them, stations herself beside them, to minister to them like the true sister of mercy she was.

In this action, we may well suppose, Angelina was not encouraged by her husband or sister, but it was a sacred principle with them never to oppose anything which she conscientiously saw it was her duty to do. When this appeared to her so plain that she felt she could not hold back from it, they committed her to the Lord, and left their doubts and anxieties with Him. She never shrank from the meanest offices to the sick and suffering, though their performance might be followed, as was often the case, by faintness and nausea. She would return home exhausted, but cheerful, and grateful that she had been able to help “one of God’s suffering children.”

In other ways the members of this united household were diligent in good works. If a neighbor required a few hundred dollars to save the foreclosure of a mortgage, the combined resources of the family were taxed to aid him; if a poor student needed a helping hand in his preparation for college, or for teaching, it was gladly extended to him–perhaps his board and lodging given him for six months or a year–with much valuable instruction thrown in. The instances of charity of this kind were many, and were performed with such a cheerful spirit that Sarah only incidentally alludes to the increase of their cares and work at such times. In fact, their roof was ever a shelter for the homeless, a home for the friendless; and it is pleasant to record that the return of ingratitude, so often made for benevolence of this kind, was never their portion. They always seem to have had the sweet satisfaction of knowing, sooner or later, that their kindness was not thrown away or under-estimated.

Besides the work of the farm, Mr. Weld interested himself in all the local affairs of his neighborhood. His energy, common sense, and enthusiasm pushed forward many a lagging improvement, while the influence of his moral and intellectual views was felt in every household. He taught the young men temperance, and the dignity of honest labor; to the young women he preached self-reliance, contempt for the frivolities of fashion, and the duty of making themselves independent. He became superintendent of the public schools of the township, and gave to them his warmest and most active services.

Sarah, although always ready to second Angelina in every charity, found her chief employment at home. She relieved her sister almost entirely of the care of the children, for in the course of years two more little ones were given to them, and she lessened the expenses by attending to household work, which would otherwise have called for another servant. After a short time, Mr. Weld’s father, mother, sister, and brother, all invalids, came to live near them, claiming much of their sympathy and their care. Their niece also, the daughter of Mrs. Frost, now married, and the mother of children, took up her residence in the neighborhood, and Aunt Sai, as the children called her, and as almost every one else came, in time, to call her, found even fuller occupation for heart and hands. Her love for children was intense, and she had the rare faculty of being able to bring her intelligence down to theirs. Angelina’s children were literally as her own, on whom she ever bestowed the tenderest care, and with whose welfare her holiest affections were intertwined. She often speaks of loving them with “all but a mother’s love,” of having them “enshrined in her heart of hearts,” of “receiving through them the only cordial that could have raised a heart bowed by sorrow and crushing memories.”

In one of her letters she says: “I live for Theodore and Angelina and the children, those blessed comforters to my poor, sad heart,” and, during an absence from home, she writes to Angelina:–

“I have enjoyed being with my friends: still there is a longing, a yearning after my children. I miss the sight of those dear faces, the sound of those voices that comes like music to my ears.”

In a letter to Sarah Douglass, written towards the close of their residence in Belleville, she says:—

“In our precious children my desolate heart found a sweet response to its love. They have saved me from I know not what of horrible despair, or rushing into some new and untried and unsanctified effort to let off the fire that consumed me. Crushed, mutilated, torn, they comforted and cheered me, and furnished me with objects of interest which drew me from myself. I feel that they were the gift of a pitying Father, and that to love and cherish them is my highest manifestation of love to the Giver.”

As the children grew, the parents began to feel the difficulty of educating them properly without other companions, and it was at last decided to take a few children into the family to be instructed with their own.

This was the beginning of another important chapter in their lives. As educators Mr. and Mrs. Weld very soon developed such rare ability, that although they had thought of limiting the number of pupils to two or three, so many were pressed upon them, with such good reasons for their acceptance, that the two or three became a dozen, and were with difficulty kept at that figure. In this new life their trials were many, their labor great, and the pecuniary compensation exceedingly moderate; but it is inspiring to read from Sarah the accounts of Theodore’s courage–“always ready to take the heaviest end of every burden,” and of Angelina’s cheerfulness; and from Angelina the frequent testimony to Sarah’s patience and fidelity. It took this dear Aunt Sai many years to learn to like teaching, especially as she never had any talent for governing, save by love, and this method was not always appreciated.

With their new and exacting work, the farm, of course, had to be given up, and was finally sold.

In 1852 the Raritan Bay Association, consisting of thirty or forty educated and cultured families of congenial tastes, was formed at Eagleswood, near Perth Amboy, New Jersey; and a year later Mr. and Mrs. Weld were invited to join the Association, and take charge of its educational department. They accepted in the hope of finding in the change greater social advantages for themselves and their children, with less responsibility and less labor; for of these last the husband, wife, and sister, in their Belleville school, had had more than they were physically able to endure longer. Their desire and plan was to establish, with the children of the residents at Eagleswood, a school also for others, and to charge such a moderate compensation only as would enable the middle classes to profit by it. In this project, as with every other, no selfish ambition found a place.

They removed to Eagleswood in the autumn of 1854.

And now, as I am nearing the end of my narrative, this seems to be the place to say a few words relative to the religious views into which the two sisters finally settled. We have followed them through their various conflicts from early youth to mature age, and have seen in their several changes of belief that there was no fickleness, no real inconsistency. They sought the truth, and at different times thought they had found it. But it was the truth as taught in Christ Jesus, the simple doctrine of the Cross they wanted, the preaching and practice of love for God, and for the meanest, the weakest, the lowest of His children. The spiritual conflicts through which they passed, prepared them to see the nothingness of all outward forms, and they came at last to reject the so-called orthodox creed, and to look only to God for help and comfort.

During the entire period of Sarah’s connection with religious organizations, and even from her very first religious impressions, she found it difficult to accept the doctrine of the Atonement; and yet she professed and tried to think she believed it, but only because the Bible, which she accepted as a revelation from God, taught it. That her reason rebelled against it is shown in her frequent prayers to be delivered from this great temptation of the arch enemy, and her deep repentance whenever she lapsed into a state of doubt. The fear that she might come to reject this fundamental dogma was–at least up to the time when she was driven from the Quaker Church–one of her most terrible trials, causing her at intervals more agony than all else put together. But the worshipful element was so strong in Sarah that she could not, even after her reason had satisfied her conscience on this point, give up this Christ at whose feet she had learned her most precious lessons of faith and meekness and gentleness and long-suffering, and whom she had accepted and adored as her intermediary before an awful Jehovah. In her whole life there appears to me nothing more beautiful than this full, tender, abiding love of Jesus, and I believe it to have been the inspiration always of all that was loveliest and grandest in her character. In one of her letters, written while at Belleville, she says:–

“I cannot grasp the idea of an Infinite Being; but, without perplexing myself with questions which I cannot solve, everything around me proclaims the presence and the government of an intelligent, law-abiding Law-giver, and I believe implicitly in his power and his love. But I must have the Friend of sinners to rest in.”

And again: “In one sense, as Creator and Benefactor, I feel this Infinite Being to be my Father, but I want a Jesus whom I can approach as a fellow creature, yet who is so nearly allied to God that I can look up to Him with reverence, and love Him and lie in His bosom.”

And later, in a letter to Gerrit Smith, she says:–

“God is love, and whoso dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him. O friends, but for this faith, this anchor to the soul both sure and steadfast, I know not what would have become of us in the sweep which there has been of what we called the doctrines of Christianity from our minds. They have passed away like the shadows of night, but the glorious truth remains that the Lord of love and mercy reigns, and great peace have they who do His will.”

Their increasingly liberal views, and their growing indifference to most of the established forms in religion, drew upon them the severe censure of their Charleston relatives, and finally, when, about 1847, it came to be known that they no longer considered the Sabbath in a sacred light, their sister Eliza wrote to them that all personal intercourse must end between them and her, and that her doors would be forever closed against them. Angelina’s answer, covering four full pages of foolscap, was most affectionate; but, while she expressed her sorrow at the feeling excited against them, she could not regret that they had been brought from error to truth. She argued the point fully, patiently giving all the best authorities concerning the substitution of the Christian for the Jewish Sabbath, and against their sister’s assertion that the former was a divine institution.

“When I began to understand,” she says, “what the gift of the Holy Spirit really was, then all outwardisms fell off. I did not throw them off through force of argument or example of others, but all reverence for them died in my heart. I could not help it; it was unexpected to me, and I wondered to find even the Sabbath gone. And now, to give to God alone the ceaseless worship of my life is all my creed, all my desire. Oh, for this pure, exalted state, how my soul pants after it! In my nursery and kitchen and parlor, when ministering to the common little wants of my family, and encountering the fretfulness and waywardness of my children, oh, for the pure worship of the soul which can enable me to meet and bear all the _little_ trials of life in quietness and love and patience. This is the religion of Christ, and I feel that no other can satisfy me or meet the wants of human nature. I cannot sanction any other, and I dare not teach any other to my precious children.”

Thus it came to pass with them and with Theodore also, that to love Jesus more, and to follow more and more after him, became the sum of their religion. With increasing years and wider experiences, their views broadened into the most comprehensive liberality, but the high worship of an infinite God, and the sweet reverence for his purest disciple never left them.


In a letter to Dr. Harriot Hunt, Sarah Grimke thus describes Eagleswood:–

“It was a most enchanting spot. Situated on the Raritan Bay and River, just twenty-five miles from New York, and sixty miles from Philadelphia, in sight of the beautiful lower bay and of the dark Neversink Hills, all its surroundings appeal to my sense of the beautiful. In rambles through the woods or along the shore, new charms are constantly presented. The ever-varying face of the bay alone is a source of ceaseless enjoyment, and with the sound of its waves, sometimes dashing impetuously, sometimes murmuring softly, the eye, the ear, and the soul are filled with wonder and delight.”

In this beautiful spot a commodious stone building was erected, suitable for association purposes. One end was divided into flats for a limited number of families; the other into school-rooms, dormitories, and parlors for social uses, while the centre contained the refectory for pupils and teachers, of whom there was an efficient corps, and dining-rooms for the other residents and their visitors. Several families of intelligence and culture resided in the immediate neighborhood, adding much to the social life of the place. All who were so fortunate as to be members of the Eagleswood family during Mr.