Theodore Dwight Weld

Theodore Dwight Weld

[weld]
Weld, Theodore Dwight, 1803-95, American abolitionist, b. Hampton, Conn. In 1825 his family moved to upstate New York, and he entered Hamilton College. While in college he became a disciple of the evangelist Charles G. Finney and was influenced by Charles Stuart, a retired British army officer who urged Weld to enlist in the cause of black emancipation. While studying for the ministry at Oneida Institute he traveled about lecturing on the virtues of manual labor, temperance, and moral reform. After 1830 he became one of the leaders of the antislavery movement working with Arthur Tappan and Lewis Tappan, New York philanthropists, James G. Birney, Gamaliel Bailey, Angelina Grimké, and Sarah Grimké. He married Angelina Grimké in 1838. Weld chose Lane Seminary at Cincinnati, Ohio, for the ministerial training of other Finney converts and studied there until the famous antislavery debates he organized (1834) among the students led to his dismissal. Almost the entire student body then requested dismissal, and it was from these theological students that Weld and Henry B. Stanton selected agents for the American Anti-Slavery Society. The "Seventy," as the agents were called, gave character and direction to the antislavery movement and successfully spread the abolitionist gospel throughout the North. From 1836 to 1840, Weld worked at the New York office of the antislavery society, serving as an editor of the society's paper, the Emancipator, and contributing antislavery articles to newspapers and periodicals. He also directed the national campaign for sending antislavery petitions to Congress and assisted John Quincy Adams when Congress tried Adams for reading petitions in violation of the gag rule. While in Washington he advised the Northern antislavery Whigs, many of whom (e.g., Ben Wade, Thaddeus Stevens) were converted to the cause by Weld or one of his agents. After 1844 he retired from public participation in the movement to found a school, Eaglewood, near Raritan, N.J. During the Civil War, at the urging of William Lloyd Garrison, he came out of retirement to speak for the Union cause and campaign for Republican candidates. Most famous of his writings (none was published under his own name) was American Slavery As It Is (1839), on which Harriet Beecher Stowe partly based Uncle Tom's Cabin and which is regarded as second only to that work in its influence on the antislavery movement. Many historians regard Weld as the most important figure in the abolitionist movement, surpassing even Garrison, but his passion for anonymity long made him an unknown figure in American history.

See Letters of Theodore Dwight Weld, Angelina Grimké Weld and Sarah Grimké 1822-1844, ed. by G. H. Barnes and D. L. Dumond (2 vol., 1934); biography by B. P. Thomas (1950); G. H. Barnes, The Antislavery Impulse, 1830-1844 (1933).

(born Nov. 23, 1803, Hampton, Conn., U.S.—died Feb. 3, 1895, Hyde Park, Mass.) U.S. reformer. He left divinity studies to become an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society (1834). His pamphlets The Bible Against Slavery (1837) and Slavery as It Is (1839) helped convert figures such as James Birney, Henry Ward Beecher, and Harriet Beecher Stowe to the antislavery cause. He married his coworker Angelina Grimké (1838), and they directed schools and taught in New Jersey and Massachusetts. In 1841–43 Weld organized an antislavery reference bureau in Washington, D.C., to assist congressmen seeking to repeal the gag rule restricting the consideration of antislavery petitions in Congress.

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Theodore Dwight Weld (November 23, 1803February 3, 1895), was one of the leading architects of the American abolitionist movement during its formative years, from 1830 through 1844.

Weld played a role as writer, editor, speaker, and organizer. He is best known for his co-authorship of the authoritative compendium, American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses, published in 1839. Harriet Beecher Stowe partly based Uncle Tom’s Cabin on Weld's text and it is regarded as second only to that work in its influence on the antislavery movement.

Early life

Weld studied at Phillips Academy from 1820 to 1822, when failing eyesight caused him to discontinue his studies. Several years later he entered the Oneida Manual Labor Institute in Oneida, New York. Weld then studied at Hamilton College, where he became the disciple of Charles Finney, a famous evangelist. Influenced by Charles Stuart, a retired British army officer, Weld joined the cause of black emancipation. Weld traveled about lecturing on the virtues of manual labor, temperance, and moral reform.

While a student at Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati, Weld became a leader of the "Lane Rebels." This group of students held a series of slavery debates over 18 days in 1834 that divided the community. When the school's board of directors, including president Lyman Beecher, tried to prohibit the students from supporting abolitionism, Weld and a group of students left the seminary and were accepted by Oberlin College.

Career

After 1830 Weld became one of the leaders of the antislavery movement working with Arthur and Lewis Tappan, New York philanthropists, James G. Birney, Gamaliel Bailey, and the Grimké sisters.

Weld married Angelina Grimké in 1838. From 1836 to 1840, Weld worked as the editor of the Emancipator. He also directed the national campaign for sending antislavery petitions to Congress and assisted John Quincy Adams when Congress tried Adams for reading petitions in violation of the gag rule.

In 1839, he and the Grimké sisters co-wrote the pivotal book American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses. As Weld used pen names for all of his writings, he is not as well known as many other notable 19th century civil rights advocates.

According to the Columbia Encyclopedia:

Many historians regard Weld as the most important figure in the abolitionist movement, surpassing even Garrison, but his passion for anonymity long made him an unknown figure in American history.

Family

Weld was the son of Ludovicus Weld and Elizabeth Clark Weld. He was brother to Ezra Greenleaf Weld, a famous daguerreotype photographer also involved with abolitionism.

A member of the very notable Weld Family of New England, Weld shares a common ancestry with William Weld, Tuesday Weld, and others. Theodore Dwight Weld's branch of the familty never achieveed the wealth of their Boston-based kin.

Weld lived in Hampton, Connecticut, until his family moved to Pompey, New York. He married Angelina Grimké in 1838.

Notes

External sources

References

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