PASSIONATE LIBERATOR: Theodore Dwight Weld and the Dilemma of Reform by Robert H. Abzug

PASSIONATE LIBERATOR: Theodore Dwight Weld and the Dilemma of Reform

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The life of Theodore Weld (1803-1895) spanned a century and influenced it, though according to biographer Abzug (History, University of Texas, Austin), Weld's life was not so much a physical adventure as a spiritual odyssey. While being groomed for the clergy, Weld suffered a nervous collapse at Andover. Converted by the great revivalist Charles Finney, he headed west to Lane Seminary in Ohio, only to lead rebellious students away when school officials declined to denounce slavery. Having found his vocation as an anti-slavery orator, Weld stumped the country for abolition, then married his sister-abolitionist Angelina Grimke, standing with her and sister Sarah for women's rights when other abolitionists urged suppression of that minor issue. (He once received a letter addressed to Mr. Theodore Grimke.) But in 1844, having lost his voice, Weld retired with the Grimkes from public life to hoe and trench their New Jersey farm; home and family (three children) replaced evangelical mission at his life's center. From then on he taught at the ""Weld Institute"" and Dio Lewis' Young Ladies' Boarding School in Lexington, Mass., and elsewhere. Angelina, her health mined by childbearing, died slowly and painfully, and Sara repressed the need to ""utter myself,"" but Theodore went right on into his nineties 'teaching and completing his ""spiritual journey from Orthodoxy to Liberal Christianity."" Abzug's account is overburdened at times by Freudian analysis, but mainly it's an interesting, informed tale of how a rather plain fellow bent to his service people far more vigorous than himself.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1980
ISBN: 0195030613
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press