Sarah Grimke and Suffrage
"I ask no favors for my sex. I surrender not our claim to equality. All I ask of our brethren is, that they will take their feet from off our necks." - Grimke
Sarah Moore Grimke is one of the founders for feminist thought and the women’s rights movement in America. She was born in 1792 in South Carolina to wealthy Episcopalian landowners. Later in life, she and her younger sisters moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and joined the Quaker community due to their beliefs in abolition.
This article was written in 1874, a year after Grimke's death, by abolitionist Sarah Southwick. It was printed in The Woman's Journal, a weekly newspaper dedicated to women's rights and suffrage. This piece demonstrates the impact Grimke's work had and that there was a network of like-minded women at the time. Grimke stopped speaking publicly for a period after a Quaker man told her she was hurting their cause, despite a demand for her speeches existing. This article demonstrating the persuasiveness of her speech and how she moved audiences.
As a child, she resented her constrained role as a young woman and, to her parents' dismay, formed relationships with her parents' slaves and gave them Bible lesssons. She taught one, Hetty, to read the Bible, which was illegal is 1740. It is notable that her first act of rebellion and activism here are connected to helping women.
Growing up with wealthy parents allowed her access to a higher level of education. It is no surprise as a grown woman she expressed a desire for study then rather than being a homemaker. Instead, she would rather be an feminist and minister.
Her fight for women’s equality was attacked much more than her fight for abolition, sometimes even by other Quakers. Her main goals were economic independence and the right to be religios leaders, as she herself tried to be ordained as a Quaker minister. She everntually stop speaking in Quaker groups and mixed her feminism in with her abolition speeches, though her feminism speeches were equally criticized in abolition spaces.
SOURCE: Southwick, Sarah. Newspaper clipping titled “A Reminiscence of Sarah M. Grimke” from Woman’s Journal (1974). Box 2D223, Sarah Moore Grimke Papers, 1825-1874, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.