When the 24-year-old Angelina Grimké—who was raised in Charleston as the daughter of a prominent slaveholder—chose to leave her native city in November of 1829, she had no idea what future impact that decision would have.
Moving to Philadelphia to join her older sister, Sarah, she embraced abolitionism and became a national sensation, giving eyewitness accounts of slavery’s inhumanity.
In front of Massachusetts lawmakers in February 1838, she became the first American woman to address a legislative body, presenting an anti-slavery petition signed by 20,000 Massachusetts women. She married fellow abolitionist Theodore Weld the same year. In actuality, her views on equality for women may have been even more revolutionary than those on abolition. Universal suffrage for all races and creeds had no more staunch advocate than Angelina Grimké Weld, who died in 1879, all but forgotten in her hometown.