What A Hell of a Predicament that So Many Endured! And this is only HALF of the Story! Archibald and Francis Grimké

Archibald Grimke, for whom the Grimke Elementary School was named (August 17, 1849 – February 25, 1930) was an American lawyer, intellectual, journalist, diplomat and community leader in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A graduate of freedmen's schools, Lincoln University and Harvard Law School, he later was appointed as American Consul to the Dominican Republic from 1894 to 1898. He was an activist for rights for blacks, working in Boston and Washington, DC. He was a national vice-president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), as well as president of its Washington, DC branch.

Grimké was born into slavery near Charleston, South Carolina in 1849. He was the eldest of three sons of Nancy Weston, an enslaved woman of European and African descent, and her master Henry W. Grimké, a widower. They lived in a common-law relationship, and Grimke recognized his sons. Archibald's brothers were Francis and John. Grimké was a member of a prominent, large slaveholding family in Charleston. His father and relatives were planters and active in political and social circles.

After becoming a widower, Grimké moved with Weston to his plantation outside Charleston; they lived together without social oversight. He was a father to his sons, teaching them and Nancy to read and write. In this period, as South Carolina discouraged manumissions by requiring slaveholders to petition the legislature for each case, it was nearly impossible and a public process to gain manumissions. Grimke never freed Weston or their children, and was simply discreet about them.

In 1852 as he was dying, Grimké tried to protect his second family by willing Nancy, who was pregnant with their third child, and their two sons Archibald and Francis to his son and heir Montague Grimké, by his first wife. He directed that they "be treated as members of the family."

Henry's sister Eliza (their white aunt), executor of his will, brought the family to Charleston and allowed them to live as if they were free, but she did not aid them financially. Nancy Weston took in laundry and did other work; when the boys were old enough, they attended a public school with free blacks. In 1860 Montague (their white half brother) "claimed them as slaves," bringing the boys into his home as servants. Later he hired out both Archibald and Francis. After Francis rebelled, Montague Grimké sold him. Archibald ran away and hid for two years with relatives until after the end of the Civil War. Montague never provided well for his half-brothers or for their mother.

After the American Civil War ended, the three Grimké boys attended freedmen's schools, where their talents were recognized by the teachers. They gained support to send Archibald and Francis to the North. They studied at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, established for the education of blacks.

Francis J. Grimké did graduate work at Princeton Theological Seminary and became an ordained Presbyterian minister. He married Charlotte Forten, of the prominent Philadelphia black abolitionist family. She was also an abolitionist and a teacher, and became known for her diaries written mostly from 1854-1864. He headed the 15th Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC, for more than 40 years. Francis died in 1939.

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