The Representation of Slavery in Women’s Appeals

The two pieces of women’s literature we read presented a very interesting approach to representing slavery. In the Petition Form for Women written by the Grimke sisters the petition focuses much on the oppressed women to take advantage of the work that there husbands do. By take advantage, I mean they tell them to use their position as the wife of a slave owner to convince him to give up the wrongful institution he participates in.  Both petitions are similar in that they convince the reader to use her power as a woman to convince their husbands and sons to end slavery. The actual description of slaves in minute as the essays choose to focus more on the plight of women. There is more attention directed to the position of women.

In my opinion, these petitions took a very different approach towards ending the institution of slavery. Rather than presenting the horrible truths to slavery, they appealed more to the independence of women. The Grimke sisters encouraged women to step outside their boxes and speak up not only for themselves but for their fellow impressed. The chose to focus on the relationship between the slaves and women rather than the slaves themselves. One can infer that the intentions of these sisters was only to gain a political following that can help support the abolitionist cause. I feel like had they pointed out the actual details of the wrong-doing in slavery, they would have appealed more to women’s emotions and thus been able to gain an even stronger following. Overall there is a very distant representation of the slaves.

Declaration of Sentiments of the American Anti-Slavery Society

This begins with a declaration of the rights this society seeks. They desire the same rights that were granted to the American society in the Declaration of Independence, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The declaration continues on to identify the wrongness in the slavery practices. The beginning of this compares the rights of the slaves to the rights of white Americans. The society also protests how slavery is morally wrong, especially in God’s eyes. They are willing to forgive, if only they are freed from the bonds that tie them to the land. The declaration goes on to point out that people are not property. They say that the whites should not be compensated for the loss of their slaves because you cannot put a price on the head of a man. The declaration also points out that in would be just as great a sin to enslave WHITE Americans as it is Africans. The declaration is closed with a preamble and an address. These just solidify the points made in the declaration; the largest of these being the foundations on which our country was established, the inalienable rights, life liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This was a very challenging piece to read. The language is very advanced which says  a lot for the supposedly “unintelligent” slaves in society. I was struck most by the main argument in the declaration, the desire for equal rights. The society presents a very meaningful argument. The Declaration of Sentiments is written is almost identical to the Declaration of Independence; I see this as a strong rebuttal to the founders of our country. Ironically, the men that began this horrible institution of slavery are the same men who wrote those very powerful words to gain their own freedom. Overall, the entire declaration stirs up my own sympathy for the enslaved and I can see the powerful effect they must have had on those who received it.