An 1837 letter from Angelina Grimke to Amos Phelps in which she discusses the abolition of slavery and the equality of men and women.
Brookline 9th Mo. 2nd
We had intended being in Worcester at the time specified in thy letter, but some friends from that town called on us about 10 days since, I said that it was very uncertain that any county meeting would be held, I rather advised as not to put ourselves at all out of the way to be there at that time. We therefore made arrangements which render it impossible to attend the meeting.
And now for “the delicate subject” as those callest it.
I did not know that the office of Prophet had ceased[?], for according to the definition of Paul, “he that prophesieth[?] speaketh to men to edification & exhortation & comfort” this is to preach, is it not, just as Anna did in the temple at the presentation of the child Jesus. It appears to me that God has from the beginning of the world down to the present day raised up a succession of reprovers & teachers who in different ages of the Church have been called by different names, but whose office has been substantially the same
The reason why I believe that those women who were helpers & laborers in the gospel actually preached, is because on the day
of Pentecost began only, the fulfillment of the prophesy of Joel. [???] the same words used with regard to men I suppose not a doubt would be felt. The great thing is to settle the principle - whether under such a spiritual & glorious dispensation as that of the gospel. God who is no respecter of persons, would give to one sex greater privileges than to the other, altho he had expressly promised in these latter days to pour out his spirit on all flesh without respect to sex, age or condition.
Has not the attempt to draw a line of demarkation between the duties of men of women always failed -- we must either run into ridiculous extremes or gross inconsistencies on this subject as long as we do not admit that they stand side by side on the same platform of human rights, invested with equal responsibilities and enjoying equal privileges. “No one can tell how much lower to place woman than man, & until this can be determined, her duties never can be defined. But only raise her to that exalted scale of being in which our Heavenly Father has I believe placed hers & every difficulty will instantly vanish. My motto is, whatever is morally right for a man to do, is morally right for a woman to do. Rights and duties depend not on sex but on our relations in life, as women we have no peculiar duties, but as mothers, wives, and daughters we have. Only look at Christianity in its purity & simplicity, divested of all the conventionalisms of artificial life & how easily do the mountain of objection & obstacle flow down before the grand principle
of equal rights.
I am glad thou hast thrown out thy objections to my ultra[?] doctrine. I want to have it thoroughly sifted[?] for I think Truth is more precious to me than any thing else. This doctrine of men & women having peculiar duties & rights, appears to me to have spread desolation over our moral being. Woman has been used as a drudge & carefied[?] like a spoiled child & man has inflicted no less an injury on himself in their degrading us, for some of the noblest virtues are too generally deemed unmanly.
With regard to its being doubtful wither Junia is the name of a man or woman. I think this of no consequence, so long as it remains certain that there were other women who labored in the gospel with Paul. Hoping that we may be led into all truth on this & every other great moral subject I remain
Thy Sister in the Gospel of our Lord
I shall always be glad to hear from thee if time will admit of thy writing, I want light more light I see as yet only in part.