Sarah Grimké

Sarah Moore Grimké was an American abolitionist, writer, and suffragette. Born to a wealthy, slave-owning family, Grimké grew up on a large plantation in South Carolina. As a child, she was upset both by the difference in opportunity and treatment afforded to her and her female siblings in comparison to her brothers, and the treatment of slaves, particularly by those who encouraged slaves to be baptized and attend church services, but did not view them as brothers and sisters in the faith. After her father’s death, Grimké moved north and left the Episcopalian faith to become a Quaker, though she was disillusioned by the male-dominated leadership’s reluctance to accept her as their equal.

It was through her abolitionist pursuits that she became more sensitive to the rights that women were denied. Grimké published volumes of abolitionist literature and letters, and lectured around the country on the issue, even though women of the period were expected not to express their opinions in a public forum. Sarah openly challenged women’s domestic roles and believed that, in order for women to be able to challenge slavery, they also needed to be equal. She opposed being subject to men so much to the point that she refused to marry.

Grimké strove to rid the United States of slavery, Christian churches which had become “unchristian,” and prejudice against African-Americans and women. She was the author of the first developed public argument for women’s equality, and her writings gave suffrage workers such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott several arguments and ideas that they would need to help end slavery and begin the women’s suffrage movement.