Early Life and Character

    Angelina’s life began on February 20, 1805, in Charleston, South Carolina (Birney 5) the youngest of thirteen children (South Carolina 66). Her older sister, Sarah, became her godmother and was influential throughout the rest of her life (Birney 12-13). The Grimkés were very wealthy and influential in Charleston (Birney 7) and so Angelina was reared in the aristocratic life. She was popular, had an active and intelligent personality (South Carolina 66), and was a bright and happy child (Birney 39).

 It soon became evident that Angelina was loyal to her beliefs and refused to be deterred from them once she established them to be true (Briney 39-40). She rejected what others thought of her and refused to live by their principles when those principles conflicted with her own. Angelina became known, especially in later life, as a woman of action, who did not let her religious doubts stop her from doing what she felt was right (South Carolina 67). She felt, her own judgment was the right way to follow most of the time despite the fact that she prayed to God for guidance (Birney 113).

As a child, Angelina did not see anything wrong with slavery as long as slaves were treated well (Birney 25). She did sympathize with the slaves and was kind to them and hated to see them punished, but did not regard slavery as a sin. She even believed that slavery was sanctioned by the Bible (Birney 40-41). The first hint of Angelina disliking slavery was when she fainted at school after seeing a little slave boy’s back torn and bleeding from a recent whipping (South Carolina 38). She realized that slavery was an unjust system and did not want any participation in it (Birney 40).

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Last updated March 2, 2001

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