Rebellion

    This move began the final step in Angelina’s journey toward becoming an abolitionist and feminist reformer. Since the Quakers accepted women ministers, Angelina naturally felt it to be her calling. She believed God would provide her with the will and words to speak when the time came (Birney 57) yet she was already a good speaker (Birney 95-96). Before Angelina became affiliated with the Quaker society it had split into two factions. The group Angelina was associated with was very orthodox and ran the Philadelphia Society (South Carolina). This would have great ramifications in her later life. Although the Quakers did recognize slavery as a sin and repented of it within their group, most did not feel led to denounce the practice by ostracizing people who owned slaves (Birney 120). Although the Quakers were antislavery, their ideals and their practices about slavery did not coincide with their actions. For example, they kept the “Negro bench” and allowed no black women and few black men on the Church’s board (Struggle Against 283). Angelina began questioning the Quaker authority on such practices and why slavery was not denounced at Meeting. The Quakers informed her that the reason slavery was not openly discussed was because the Meeting of Suffering’s committee dealt with that subject (South Carolina 118). It was an unsatisfactory answer to Angelina. She slowly began to rebel (Birney 95). Her sympathy created a desire to help the slave (Birney 123). Finally, she began attending antislavery meetings in direct violation of the Quaker rule of abstaining from organizations outside the Society (South Carolina 118-19). She attended meetings by George Thompson and other notable abolitionist and was deeply impressed (Birney 122). She then began rebuking the Quakers because they segregated the blacks in Meeting (Blacfax) and insisted on keeping the  “Negro bench” (Struggle Against 283). Her travels though the states to visit Quaker meetings also gave her the opportunity to visit with other abolitionists and discuss issues (Birney 134-36). Angelina finally felt driven to write a letter to William Lloyd Garrison, the editor of The Liberator, an abolitionist newspaper. When the letter was published in the newspaper, the Quakers chastised Angelina (Birney 126). These are some of the reasons she rejected the Quaker organization, not the ideals of the religion (Struggle Against 283). Angelina did not care to be associated with a religion that did not raise a hand to help others in the new reforms, but instead held their members in chains so they could not help others, which she felt to be a Christian duty (Birney 149). With the ties between Angelina and organized Quakerism cut, at least on her part, she felt confident to move into the arena of public abolition.

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Last updated March 2, 2001

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