Home » Black History » Today In Charleston History: February 21 – Charleston Firsts

Today In Charleston History: February 21 – Charleston Firsts

1838-Slavery

 Angelina Grimke addressed a Committee of the Legislature of the State of Massachusetts, the first time a woman was invited to speak before a legislative body. She spoke against slavery, and also defended women’s petitioning both as a moral and religious duty and as a political right. Abolitionist Robert F. Wallcut stated that “Angelina Grimké’s serene, commanding eloquence enchained attention, disarmed prejudice and carried her hearers with her.”

By this time she was an accomplished orator, having spoken publicly eighty-eight times to an audience of approximately 40,000 people. Her appearance created a furor. Most people believed a women’s place was in the home, NOT in the public, and certainly not being a public speaker, and certainly not on such an inflaming topic – slavery. Angelina later wrote:

I never was so near fainting under the tremendous pressure of feeling. My heart almost died within me. The novelty of the scene, the weight of responsibility, the ceaseless exercise of the mind thro’ which I had passed for more than a week – all together sunk me to the earth. I well nigh despaired.

 

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