Appeal to the Women of the Nominally Free States

Publication Year: 1837

Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women. An Appeal to the Women of the Nominally Free States: Issued by an Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women.... (New-York: William S. Dorr, printer, 1837). 
PHS Call number: E 445 .N7001 W65 1837

Reading suggestions

See especially pages 57-63, "How northern women can help the cause of emancipation." It also may be helpful to skim the entire pamphlet to see how the argument is laid out.

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Source note

During the 1837 Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women, it was decided that a committee of three, A.E. Grimke, L.M. Child, and Grace Douglass, should prepare what would become “An Appeal to the Women of the Nominally Free States” as part of the convention’s outreach efforts. Angelina E. Grimke (1805-1879), later known as Angelina Grimke Weld, and Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880) were both influential white anti-slavery activists and writers. Grace Douglass (1782-1842) was an anti-slavery activist and small business owner, and came from a prominent family in the free African American community of Philadelphia. Douglass and her daughter, Sarah Mapps Douglass, were both active members of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society.

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Reading questions

1.    Who wrote this document? What was their purpose for writing it?

2.    On page 58, northern women are encouraged to lobby their church and clergymen to promote abolition and condemn slavery from the pulpit. Why is it important in this time for women to exert their influence within their churches for the anti-slavery cause?

3.    Why do the authors of the Appeal urge northern women to look to English women for inspiration as they do their anti-slavery work (page 59)?

4.    What are the concrete actions that northern women are encouraged to take? What are the symbolic or spiritual tasks?

5.    The Appeal directly addresses northern racism, though without using that modern term. What suggestions do the writers offer for how northern women can combat their own “prejudice” against African Americans?

6.    On page 61, the Appeal asks African American women to be patient with northern white women as they learn to become less prejudiced. Can you draw parallels between this argument and debates on race and racism today?

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Source type
History Topics
Abolition and Anti-slavery
Women's Rights
Time Period
Slavery, Sectionalism, and Social Reform (1815-1861)