On the white abolitionists

Albert J. Raboteau describes a few members of a brave minority.



Albert J. Raboteau describes a few members of a brave minority.


The abolitionist movement was a very important movement and indicator of the fact that many whites were troubled by slavery. In part, they were troubled because they began to read slave narratives – that is, the accounts of former slaves who had escaped from slavery, such as Frederick Douglass’ – and they realised that this was antithetical both to Christianity and to the claims of what America was about. So people like William Lloyd Garrison and a whole range of others began to speak out, sometimes at great risk of their own lives, against slavery.

A couple of very interesting abolitionists active in the slavery cause were actually women from Charleston, South Carolina, who had been the aunts of a former slave who had been enslaved by his uncle – their brother. And they had left the south and came north and became abolitionists – they became Quakers first, and then became abolitionists. They were the Grimké sisters. Francis Grimké, whose portrait hangs not too far from here in the Princeton Theological Seminary Library, became a Presbyterian minister – who had been enslaved by his uncle, their brother – against the will of his father. (His master was his father.) So you get these two women, who are Southern women, who become abolitionists and are on the abolitionist trail, and they find out about this nephew of theirs, and they contact him, and they become fast friends.