Essay by mrsteve June 2002

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Born into a tumultuous time period and a prejudiced nation that was ripe for a change in ideology, Sarah and Angelina Grimke were two women who helped spark a revolution in the outlook of the American public. Although they are not prominent in the history books of today, the Grimke sisters did an indescribable amount of work to create the foundation upon which those who are noted in the history books would stand. Molded by the horrors of slavery during childhood, the Grimke sisters became the first and foremost female advocates of abolition during the 1800's, setting in motion an inevitable transformation in the mindset among the general population that women were somehow lesser human beings than men.

During the time of their upbringing, the female Grimke children were made well aware of the fact that they were to have a lesser role in society than their male counterparts. As a young girl Sarah was eager to join her older brother, Thomas, in his studies of classic literature and mathematics (Todras 16).

But when he started learning Latin, Sarah's parents refused to allow her continued participation. "You are a girl," her parents would say, "what do you want of Latin and Greek and philosophy? You can never use them" (Lerner 27). Even as a child, Sarah was perplexed by the inequity she found in her parents' decision and secretly continued to teach herself these subjects against their wishes (Lumpkin 19). However, Sarah's incipient rebellion was temporarily deflected by the birth of her youngest sister, Angelina, in 1805 (Hewgley 112). She took over her sibling's care and education, which for a time provided an outlet for her unused energy and talents. As Angelina grew older and her hunger for knowledge increased, the bond between the two sisters grew immensely.

Strengthening an...