Angelina Grimke Weld

The editors of Available Means saw fit to include from Angelina Grimke Weld, sister to Sarah and wife to the writer of the letter to which Sarah Grimke replied, a speech that cries to be read aloud, "Address at Pennsylvania Hall." And it is not just threat of the mob reported to be outside, nor the incredible fact that the very next day the hall in which she spoke burned down. No, it is her rhetoric. She uses of scripture not only to prove her cause of abolition but to encourage her audience to its support. She agilely responds to the noise and threat of the mob, incorporating its actions into her words.

Grimke Weld decries the actions of the mob as being illogical and unfitting to argument. Even if the hall were leveled "[would that be] any evidence that we are wrong, or that slavery is a good and wholesome institution?" (121). She recognizes that their tactics are meant to frighten good people from their consciences, not to persuade by means of reason. And with threatened people in front of her, she attempts both to soothe their fear and rouse their actions. The attacks only prove that what they are doing is working.

She also has a clear vision for how women can contribute to the abolitionist cause. "Men may settle this and other questions at the ballot-box, but you have no such right; it is only through petitions that you can reach the Legislature. It is therefore peculiarly your duty to petition" (123). She could be seen even as giving a little dig for the fact that women cannot vote, but rather than dwelling on that as a deficiency, she gives women a special job. And she builds up the impact of such petitions, both to encourage the women to send them and to give the women some sense of empowerment.

And yet, what power do petitions truly have? Perhaps in Grimke Weld's day they held more power than they seem to now. It seems that current day petitions are less about legislative issues and more about wants and needs. How often does a petition produce a legislative impact? How many years have Idahoans tried to add the words that would include more humans in our human rights amendment? Why is the religious freedom to discriminate enshrined in a law that is supposed to be separate from church?

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