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the last meeting, and people thought he must be a Southern spy. She says, “somehow, I did not feel his presence embarrassing at all, and went on just as though he had not been there."
After this, the sisters went to New England to pursue their labors. In Dorchester two or three men “slyly slid ” into the back seats of the hall and listened to the speakers, and one of them “afterward took great pains to prove that it was unscriptural for a woman to speak in public.” From this time a few men were generally present at the gatherings, and on the 21st of July, 1837, Angelina wrote, “ In the evening of the same day addressed our first mixed audience. Over one thousand present.” “The opposers of abolitionism, and especially the clergy, began to be alarmed,” says Mrs. Birney. The sisters were denounced, halls were refused them, the Society of Friends condemned their course, aud violence was threatened; but Sarah writes, “ They think to frighten us from the field of duty ; but they do not move us.” Even some of the Abolitionists doubted the propriety of their labors, and the question of Womans' Rights was fairly launched on the tide of the anti-slavery movement.
The General Association of Congregational Ministers of Massachusetts passed a resolution censuring the sisters, and issued a pastoral letter, containing “a tirade against female preachers.”
Sarah next published letters on “ The Province of Woman."
In February, 1838, Angelina addressed a committee of the Massachusetts Legislature on the subject of slavery. She wrote of this memorable occasion, “My heart never quailed before, but it almost died within me at that hour.” She was given two hearings, and she says “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.”
Angelina was the more eloquent of the two sisters, and although Sarah spoke, she preferred to serve the cause by writing.
In May, 1838, Angelina married Theodore D. Weld, who was an earnest and eloquent abolition orator. After this marriage she spoke once again, and then was obliged to relinquish all public work on account of her health, while Mr. Weld's loss of voice, prevented him from continuing his lecturing service. They never faltered, however, or relaxed in their principles. They were all three engaged in schoolwork and received colored pupils as readily as white ones. When the
war came, and slavery was abolished, some peculiar family trials fell to the lot of the Grimké sisters, and old wounds were re-opened. They bore these renewed sufferings with fortitude, and with patient and loving spirits. They succored their impoverished kindred, who had long been alienated from them, and they fulfilled some difficult and delicate duties which grew out of the old ties which their Southern relatives had discarded.
Lucretia Mott was a Quakeress, and a very beautiful woman. She exercised a singular power over people with whom she came in contact, influencing and inspiring them to all high and holy purposes. She became an Abolitionist in early life, and was sent as a delegate to the World's Anti-Slavery Convention, held in London, in 1840.* Like the other women who were delegates, she was refused admission to the body, and attended its sessions only as an outsider.
She was an eloquent and persuasive speaker in anti-slavery and religious meetings. She, with other Philadelphia women, used to attend the courts whenever a fugitive slave case was tried, in the hope that the silent protest of their presence, would have some effect on judges and juries, who were inclined to be subservient to the slave power. On one occasion, she and her companions sat all night in the court-room, the commissioner deferring his sentence, thinking that the women would be tired out, and would leave and, finally, unable to get rid of them, he availed himself of a legal quibble, and ordered the fugitive to be set free. Years later, when the Civil War came, the lawyer who acted in this affair on behalf of the slaveholder, and who had been an ardent supporter of the interests of slavery, wheeled around, and gave in his allegiance to the Union party. Some one asked him how he dared thus oppose all his former friends, and he replied that the man who had endured to sit all night before Lucretia Mott and knew what she was thinking of him all the time, would fear nothing else on earth.
She was herself brave, and once, when an old colored woman was refused a seat in a horse-car, and forced to ride on the front platform, exposed to a pelting winter storm, she went out and stood by her side, and rode for nearly an hour, in all the bitter weather.
She was very charming, and she retained her great personal beauty to the last, dying finally in 1880, at the age of eighty-seven.
* See chapter Woman in the State.—ED,
Abby Kelley was a New England girl, a Quaker, and a school-teacher. She began her anti-slavery work by giving half of all she earned to the cause. Afterward she decided that it was her duty to lecture and talk to people about slavery. She received no salary from the anti slavery societies for her labor, but went from town to town, staying with friends when it was possible, going by private conveyance if she could, getting up meetings, and everywhere, in season and out, pleading for the slave. When her clothes were worn out, she went to a sister's and did house-work, till she had earned enough money to get what she needed, and then she started again on her mission. She encountered great opposition from press and pulpit. Every epithet was hurled at her which was most calculated to wound the spirit of a sensitive woman. Nothing overcame her. The cry of the slave mother sounded in her ears and drowned the clamor about herself. She pursued her way, fighting, as it were, for every inch of the ground she traversed.
It is no exaggeration to say that what she did and suffered, has made the path easier for every woman, since her day, who has sought to work in any public manner in America. The Grimké sisters retired early from the field, and Abby Kelley bore the brunt of a long and painful contest with prejudice and opposition, which were directed not only against the antislavery cause, but against her personally, for doing what women had not till then done.
Abby Kelley married Stephen S. Foster, an Abolitionist, so resolute, unflinching and uncompromising as to be a fit mate for her. They established a home, but both of them often went from it on anti-slavery lecturing trips, until she had entirely worn out her voice, and was obliged to refrain from using it in public. Once in a while, however, in later life, she addressed some convention for a few minutes at a time, when the impulse to speak in behalf of something she thought right, proved too strong to be resisted. A hoarse whisper was all that remained to her from the young voice, with which she had once challenged the scorn of men and the timid contempt of women, but her listeners almost hushed their hearts to hear these faint breathings, remembering reverently all the sacrifice and pain she had endured.
Mrs. Foster lived in all respects a conscientious life. She was a careful housekeeper and a devoted wife and mother. She and her husband were ardent Woman Suffragists and they protested against the payment of taxes to a government which
allowed her no representation. Their home was in Worcester, Mass., and they both lived to see slavery abolished. She survived him for several years, without abating her interest in the general principles to which their lives had been consecrated.
Sallie Holley was one of the later anti-slavery speakers. She was generally accompanied in her lecturing trips by a friend, Miss Caroline F. Putnam, and after the war the two went to Virginia to live and work among the freed people.
Lucy Stone and Susan B. Anthony were also anti-slavery speakers before the Civil War. Anna Dickinson made a few speeches in her very early girlhood as agent of one of the anti-slavery societies. There were also women employed by the societies as workers in other ways, such as circulating petitions, raising money, distributing tracts, and talking with people in private ways.
Miss Mary Grew, of Philadelphia, occasionally addressed meetings. Miss Grew was one of a large number of women all over the North, who gave all their energies to anti-slavery work. These women helped fugitive slaves, cared for Abolition speakers, raised money, arranged meetings, distributed papers and pamphlets, corresponded, wrote articles for newspapers, sewed for fairs, went without luxuries and even necessities so as to be able to give to the cause, and spent themselves in body and brain without stint, and without asking any reward but the achievement of the end they sought. Mrs. Sidney Lewis, of Philadelphia, kept the anti-slavery office in that city. It would be impossible to name the half of these silent workers.
Lydia Maria Child * was one of the foremost literary women of her day, when she avowed herself to be an Abolitionist, and her popularity was greatly injured thereby. She edited the Anti-Slavery Standard for two years, and did noble work. During the war there was a last outbreak of pro-slavery fury in Northern cities, and mobs assaulted Wendell Phillips in Boston. One night, after an anti-slavery meeting, the crowd threatened to kill him, and she took his arm and walked serenely by his side through the raging multitude, and it was considered that her presence with him awed them to such an extent that she really saved his life.
Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote “Uncle Tom's Cabin,” + when public sentiment was beginning to turn against slavery, and the book went all over the world, and was translated into many
* See chapter Woman in Literature.-ED.
tongues, to make all men feel the wickedness of an institution which needed that the Fugitive Slave Law should be enacted and enforced for its support. The effect of the book was incalculable.
Maria Weston Chapman and her sisters brought grace, beauty, and wit, in social circles, to the aid of the Abolitionists in the very first years of the long moral warfare. They became so unpopular in Boston, in consequence of their course, that Mrs. Chapman told a friend that she feared to walk alone on Washington Street, because the very clerks in the stores would insult her as she passed. She was very energetic in getting up anti-slavery fairs on a scale which seemed large in those days, and she enlisted the sympathy of people in England, and secured large contributions from them.
Ann Green Phillips, the wife of Wendell Phillips, was a lifelong invalid, but she first converted him to anti-slavery opinions, and then inspired and sustained him, and from her sick bed sent him forth to do the work she could not do.
Helen E. Garrison, the wife of Wm. Lloyd Garrison, the shyest and most modest of women, encouraged her husband, and by her unselfish devotion at home, made it possible for him to use his time and strength combating the system which he held to be “the sum of all villainies." When the mob dragged him through the streets of Boston, in 1835, and word was brought to this beautiful young woman, who was then a recent bride, that his life was in danger, her spirit rose at the tidings, and she proudly said, “I do not believe my husband will be untrue to his principles.”