Angelina Grimke & Catharine Beecher

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Angelina Grimke’s public appeal for the institution of the human rights of all moral beings is ultimately superior to Catharine Beecher’s doctrine of female supremacy limited to the domestic sphere. Both women are visionaries of their era offering contrasting views of women’s proper place in society as well as their moral duties. History has proven that Grimke is unwaveringly the contest winner of this debate . Compelling reasons for Grimke’s historical success can be seen in the women’s differing contextual arguments, the effective use of rhetorical mediums, and the personal embodiment of beliefs.
Angelina E. Grimke’s Letters to Catharine Beecher is a contrasting response to Beecher’s Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism, which was addressed to Grimke herself. Specifically, Angelina’s 12th and 13th letters serve as a fervent vehicle for which Grimke meticulously counters Beecher’s affirmations of woman’s societal subordination. Grimke wrote the letters “because of a ‘deep and tender interest’ for the ‘present and eternal welfare’ of ‘Sisters in Chris’ whose eyes were closed to the Law” . Although Grimke addresses her letters to Beecher, her intended audience includes every American, regardless of gender, race, or social status that may come in contact with her publishing or be touched by it in any manner. By 1837, Grimke had gained significant clout from both the reverence and contempt of her followers and critics. She stood as a dedicated abolitionist who broke down multiple barriers for the advancement of women’s rights and moral social change. Catharine Beecher’s Essay sets out to rationalize women’s submissive role by claiming a rigid, social hierarchy- divinely instituted- placing men above women. She argues that women should only influence society through the activities of their separate, domestic sphere. Like Grimke, she ultimately sought to benefit American society through moral reform, but through different means.
Angelina Grimke gains historical influence



Cited: Beecher, Catharine. Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism with Reference to the duty of American Females. Salem: Ayer Company, Publishers, Inc., 1988. Beecher, Catharine, Margaret Fuller, and M Grimke, Sarah and Angelina Grimke. The Public Years of Sarah and Angelina Grimke: Selected Writings 1835-1839. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989. Hobbs, Catherine Isenberg, Nancy. “Untitled.” Review of Strangers and Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740-1845 by Catherine A. Brekus. Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2000. Lerner, Gerda Mattingly, Carol. “Friendly Dress: A Disciplined Use.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly Vol. 29, No. 2 (1999), http://www.jstor.org/stable/3886084. Phipps, William E. Adam’s Rib: Bone of Contention.” Theology Today 33 no. 3 (1976), http://ezp.lndlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0000757237&site=ehost-live. Sicherman, Barbara. “Review Essay: American History.” Signs Vol. 1, No. 2 (1975), http://www.jstor.org/stable/3173057.

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