The Sisters' Speaking Tour
The sisters ran into many obstacles, though; obstacles that were quite a shock to them. They were scheduled to speak to a group of women about slavery, but because of the number of women attending, the meeting had to be held in a public hall. Many protested because women were only to speak in small settings, such as homes, and not in public places. Sarah and Angelina were appalled by the protests (Birney 162). The two argued that women speaking out against slavery was all right because there were instances in the Bible of women speaking on vital issues (Sarah). Permission was finally granted for the meeting and it was quite successful. The meetings continued weekly, growing steadily in numbers as people heard how wonderfully the Grimke sisters spoke (Birney 167).
Not long after this, Sarah and Angelina moved their meetings to other cities. At one point, the sisters held a meeting in Poughkeepsie that was an audience of "colored people of both sexes" (Birney 170). Angelina spoke to them with ease, although it was her first time addressing a mixed audience. The success of their meetings is well summed up by Birney when she says the following:
Not only had they awakened enthusiasm and sincere interest in abolition, but had demonstrated the ability of women to publicly advocate a great cause, and the entire propriety of their doing so. One of the members of the committee asserted that it would be as impossible to calculate the number of converts they had made, as to estimate the encouragement and strength their zeal and eloquence had given to abolitionists all over the country. Men were slow to believe the reports of their wives and sisters respecting Angelina's wonderful oratory, and this incredulity produced the itching ears which soon drew to the meetings where the Grimke sisters were to speak more men that women, and gave them the applause and hearty support of some of the ablest minds of New England (171-2).
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