February 21, 1838

Angelina Grimke Addresses Legislature

Greater Boston

On this day in 1838 a woman addressed a legislative body for the first time in American history. An overflow crowd gathered at the State House in Boston as Angelina Grimké, daughter of a South Carolina slave owner, presented anti-slavery petitions signed by 20,000 Massachusetts women. Over the past year, she and her sister Sarah — both fervent abolitionists — had caused a scandal by speaking to large crowds of men and women about the evils of slavery. Angelina Grimké used her appearance before the legislature to make a radical assertion on behalf of American women: "We are citizens of this republic and as such our honor, happiness, and well-being are bound up in its politics, government, and laws."

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