Angelina Grimke and her sister Sarah were Southern-born women, but very early on in life developed an antipathy for slavery of all kinds, both racial and gender based. They became staunch abolitionists, and also a brave proponents of rights for women. After her sister left for Philadelphia in 1821, Angelina followed suit eight years later, becoming a Quaker and joining the abolitionist Circle of Friends. Although she had become involved with the movement after he sister, Angelina was the driving force of the sisters and was also a leader in the movement as a whole.
In 1836, she wrote a pamphlet that became The Appeal to the Christian Women of the South. In it, she urged those addressed in the title to be a moral force against slavery. To do what they knew that their faith required of them. The strength of her conviction as an Abolitionist alienated Angelina from her Charleston roots, but she did not stop pursuing the justice that she felt was lacking for both slaves and women at the time . She and her sister began to address meetings of women in their homes, and very soon were asked to address larger audiences at more formal gatherings.
The pamphlet was published by the American Anti-Slavery Society, and it is the only written entreaty from one Southern woman to other Southern women, albeit those whose views were likely polemically different from the author's. Angelina had addressed the letter to her peers because she believed that they would take it more seriously if it came from one of their own, and that they would in turn find her appeal more difficult to resist. This was unfortunately not the case, and the pamphlet was burned throughout South Carolina.
The main argument of the pamphlet is that slavery contravenes the Declaration of Independence, and also contravenes the basic human rights outlined in the Bible. It is this issue that Angelina had believed would change the minds of the Christian women to whom she addressed the appeal, but this turned out not to be the case. A devout Christian herself, Angelina used her faith as the basis of her arguments, noting the many examples in the Bible of Jesus' own condemnation of slavery.
Angelina also acknowledged that because women were not able to vote they could not exact change on their own. What they could do, she believed, was exert pressure on the men in their lives to bring about the change that was desired, and to let their consciences be their guide.
Grimke did not receive the credit she deserved as an Abolitionist or as a woman's rights advocate for decades after her death, but in the latter part of the twentieth century she did start to become recognized as a major force in both movements. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1998 and is remembered on the Boston Heritage Trail. She is also a prominent character in Sue Monk Kidd's novel The Invention of Wings.
Angelina passed away in 1879 at the age of seventy four, in Hyde Park, Massachusetts.