Araminta Ross: An American Hero

"I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person now I was free. There was such a glory over everything, the sun came like gold through the trees and over the fields, and I felt like I was in heaven."
Harriet Tubman
After crossing the Mason-Dixon Line

Born Araminta Ross, Harriet Tubman is without a doubt one of the most courageous persons and greatest Christians who ever lived. After escaping from slavery, moved by a passion that could only have been born of God, and, according to her own testimony, led by the Spirit of God Himself, Harriet hazarded both life and freedom in making nineteen, possibly twenty, trips below the Mason-Dixon Line to lead others out of slavery. After freedom was gained, she worked tirelessly to help ex-slaves learn self-sufficiency and even founded a home for elderly former slaves who had no family to care for them. While she lived, she was held in the highest esteem by black and white alike.

Harriet Tubman was a national hero as well as a great Christian, but until the 1960’s, she received no honor in the county in which she was born. A woman named Addie Clash Travers, who claimed to be a distant relative of Tubman, established Harriet Tubman Day in Bucktown, MD.  This should have been done sooner, but Tubman had two strikes against her; she was black, and she was a woman.
Booker T. Washington credits Tubman for bringing the white race and the black race together and for helping tear down the wall of prejudice between them. Tubman was not a respecter of persons, and in spite of her unquestioned purity, piety, and decency, she wasn’t a “True Woman” either.[1] There were times when her lifestyle and demeanor were decidedly “unfeminine,” and she failed miserably in the submissiveness and domesticity departments. For example, during escapes, she held absolute authority over everyone in her group, including the men. On more than one occasion she held a gun to a male head when that head endangered the lives of everyone else in the group.[2] Tubman was a fervent advocate of rights for women as well as for slaves. She never missed a “Woman’s Rights” meeting if she could help it.

Margaret Fell, Elizabeth Fry, Elizabeth Heyrick, Angelina and Sarah Grimké, Harriet Tubman, and a host of others were not brainwashed by “feminists.” They were the feminists. They were not “indoctrinated” by re-conceptualization meetings. They were the ones holding the re-conceptualization meetings. They were moved by compassion and by their Christian faith to labor on behalf of others. They found themselves speaking out for the rights of women only as a secondary issue. Each of these godly women influenced scores of other godly women who then added their voices to a chorus that, even today, reaches into Heaven.

The refusal of evangelical authors to acknowledge the work of godly people who advocated for women’s rights and the connection between their work and the work of Biblical feminists today is indicative of how deeply prejudice and hatred against women is ingrained in the hearts of both men and women; and it manifests itself nowhere so blatantly as within evangelical and fundamentalist Christian thought and writing.[3]

Early advocates for gender equality, so many of them devoutly Christian advocates, swam boldly against the tide of public opinion sacrificing much in securing rights that no sane contemporary woman would relinquish if given the choice to do so—“rights” which anti-feminist authors Mary Kassian, Barbara Hughes, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and Beverly LaHaye gladly avail themselves of on a daily basis. 
Those who went before us, braving ridicule and persecution, even placing themselves in physical danger, some spending years in dank prisons, then choosing to return again, without backing down from what they believed, deserve so much better than the scorn heaped upon them by complementarian authors. 
Beverly LaHaye writes that women who have been liberated from traditional “moral standards” (she actually means “roles”) are restless women, who demand selfish “rights,” and reflect little femininity.[4] Beverly LaHaye is wrong. Women who advocate for equal rights do not all desire liberation from traditional moral standards, and it is not selfish to appropriate to one’s self that which God has already given; as Shirley Taylor wrote, “Equality for women is not theirs to give, but ours to claim.”[5]

As Christians, we are woefully ignorant of our history and heritage regarding women’s rights. This is not strictly the fault of prejudiced evangelical authors. During much of the twentieth century, in our public school systems, aside from Madame Curie, Florence Nightingale, Susan B. Anthony, and very few others, students were taught little about women's historical contributions to our culture or about women's history in general.[6] And in our Churches and Sunday Schools, if anyone knew of the contributions of godly men and women to the women's rights movements, well…, mum, was definitely the word.

And mum is still the word in many evangelical circles. But added to that is the sinful misinformation connecting the activities of early Christian reformers with the more radical, even immoral, elements of the historical and modern feminist movements. It is time to acknowledge the fact that Christians are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, both male and female, who believed and taught that women's rights and complete, practical, equality with men were biblical, valid, and urgent issues.

[1]Due to her emotional and physical frailty, a True Woman needed to be protected by a male family member…” ATQ (The American Transcendental Quarterly)Sept, 2005   by Susan M. Cruea
[2] “If anyone ever wanted to change his or her mind during the journey to freedom and return, Tubman pulled out a gun and said, "You'll be free or die a slave!" Tubman knew that if anyone turned back, it would put her and the other escaping slaves in danger of discovery, capture or even death. She became so well known for leading slaves to freedom that Tubman became known as the ‘Moses of Her People.’" [4/23/2010]

[3] Historically, the animosity of Christians against women has been astounding. In 1558, when John Knox wrote The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, his denunciation of women was so venomous that even living in the shadow of Mary Tudor and the fires of Smithfield could not excuse the hatred he expressed. He claimed the authority by which he wrote came from God.  
[4] The Restless Woman, 1984
[6]…the history of humankind has always been written by men as if it were the history of men.” C.S. Cowles, A Woman's Place? Leadership in the Church, 1993
“Though nothing remains that represents the authentic voice of women themselves, there is a wealth of evidence showing how men sought to define women.” Roger Just, Women in Athenian Law and Life, Routledge, London and New York, 1989

The above is an excerpt from, Woman this War! Gender, Slavery and the Evangelical Caste System

Elizabeth Heyrick

   Elizabeth Heyrick, an English Quaker, was another woman with an “agenda.” She was a nineteenth century activist who did not shrink from a challenge. Her activities not only placed her at odds with the standards of her culture [regarding her place as a woman], they also found her standing in opposition to the popular concept of gradual emancipation in which some blacks, many of whom were already free anyway, were deported and colonized in Liberia. 
   Gradual emancipation was freeing a few slaves but making no real progress towards abolishing the institution as a whole. Its biggest advantage could be seen in the fact that it was a great salve for the consciences of those who disliked slavery but disliked being unpopular even more.
   In 1824, Heyrick’s controversial pamphlet, which advocated the immediate emancipation of all slaves, enjoyed a wide circulation and placed her at odds with the male dominated anti-slavery society which advocated gradual emancipation. Christian leader, William Wilberforce,[1] who eventually came into agreement with Heyrick, at first attempted to suppress knowledge of her pamphlet and, because he did not approve of her public activities as a woman, forbade leaders of the anti-slavery movement to speak at women’s anti-slavery societies. 
   Although Heyrick’s influence over the general public was felt, among other things, through the pamphlet she wrote, many believe her influence with Wilberforce was given a significant boost by her threat to withdraw funding from the Anti-Slavery Society.[2]  
   Although she did not live to see the fruits of her labor, it is widely acknowledged that Heyrick’s work was a significant influence in passing The Abolition of Slavery Act of 1833. The Act freed every slave in the British Empire without causing a civil war.
   Jesus said, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” What are the fruits of Elizabeth Heyrick’s work? Multiplied millions of West Indian and African slaves (and their descendants) gladly acknowledge a tremendous debt of gratitude to Elizabeth Heyrick for her “agenda.” 

The above is an excerpt from the book "Woman this is WAR!..." 


[1] Wilberforce was a member of the British Parliament and leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade
[2] “Who wrote that pamphlet which moved the heart of Wilberforce to pray over the wrongs, and to plead the cause of the oppressed African? It was a woman. Elizabeth Heyrick. Who labored assiduously to keep the sufferings of the slave continually before the British public.” Angelina Emily Grimke, An Appeal to the Christian Women of the South, 1836
“In 1830, the Female Society for Birmingham submitted a resolution to the National Conference of the Anti-Slavery Society calling for the organization to campaign for an immediate end to slavery in the British colonies. Heyrick, who was treasurer of the organization, suggested a new strategy to persuade the male leadership to change its mind on this issue. She suggested that the society should threaten to withdraw its funding of the Anti-Slavery Society if it did not support this resolution. This was a serious threat as it was one of the largest local society donors to central funds, and also had great influence over the network of ladies associations which supplied over a fifth of all donations. At the conference in May 1830, the Anti-Slavery Society agreed to drop the words "gradual abolition" from its title. It also agreed to support Female Society's plan for a new campaign to bring about immediate abolition.”

The Grimké Sisters: Historical Christian Voices of Freedom and Equality

Angelina and Sarah Grimké were sisters with an “agenda.” 
 Their reputations for kindness, generosity, and piety were unquestioned. On her death certificate, after the question about her “occupation,” Sarah’s brother-in-law wrote, “Doing good.” 
   The Grimké sisters, born into a wealthy family, left their Southern home and sacrificed lives of ease and luxury to devote their lives to abolishing the sin of slavery. 
   Angelina made history twice. First, by being the first woman in the United States to speak publicly, and again by being the first woman in America to address a state legislature. Her subject, both times, was slavery. 
   Sarah is known as being the first woman in the United States to write a theological treatise on female equality.

   The Grimké sisters not only hated the sin of slavery but wholeheartedly endorsed equality of the sexes. Sarah never married, but Angelina and her husband, abolitionist Theodore Weld, lived long and happy lives as fully equal companions.[1] Angelina retired from public life after her marriage, but with the support of her husband, continued to work tirelessly for the rights of slaves and women.

   Although women, whether married or unmarried, suffered from unfair legal and social bias,[2] all early women’s rights activists and suffragists identified marriage as a primary source of female oppression. The Grimké sisters were no exception, with Weld being in full agreement with his wife and sister-in-law.

   Complementarian author, Beverly LaHaye, indicts the women of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as being hedonistic and selfish for identifying marriage as a primary source of women’s oppression,[3] but up until the mid-1900’s, using the legal system, marriage was a primary means of women’s oppression. 
   When Sarah Grimké wrote that, “a husband and wife are one person and that person is the husband,” she was not being facetious. During her lifetime, the law commentaries of Sir William Blackstone reigned supreme within the legal systems of the United States and England. 
   Sarah was merely quoting the law. 
   Elizabeth Wilson alluded to Blackstone Law when she reminded her readers that the Revolutionary War was fought to free American men from British rule, and it was high time American women were freed from British rule as well.[4] The national chairman of Eagle Forum Court Watch has founded an organization dedicated to the return of Blackstone law.[5]

The above article is an excerpt from

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[1] The Grimkè-Weld’s happy experience was not anomalous. And unlike the inherent dangers of abuse present in the doctrine of male authority, there are no dangers of abuse inherent in the practical application of gender equality.

[2] “In ecclesiastical, as well as civil courts, woman is tried and condemned, not by a jury of her peers, but by beings, who regard themselves as her superiors in the scale of creation. Although looked upon as an inferior, when considered as an intellectual being, woman is punished with the same severity as man when she is guilty of moral offenses. Her condition resembles, in some measure, that of the slave, who, while he is denied the advantages of his more enlightened master, is treated with even greater rigor of the law.” Sarah Grimké, Letters on the Equality of the Sexes Addressed to Mary S. Parker, President of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society, Letter XII: Legal Disabilities of Women

[3] “The feminists of the 1700’s and 1800’s identified marriage as a primary means of women’s oppression…the same themes are being promoted in feminist writings today: Destruction of family; advocacy of women in the work force to assure “equality” with men; and the glorification of hedonistic selfishness…” Beverly LaHaye, The Restless Woman, 1984

[4] A Scriptural View of Women’s Rights and Duties in all the Important Relations of Life, Pennsylvania, 1849

[5] Even though some of the links below have been removed since the first edition of this book was released, we continue to include them as historical references, because the complementarian organization, Eagle Forum, founded Blackstone Institute seeking a return to Blackstone principles in government. Whether they seek to reinstate Blackstone marriage laws or not, we cannot say: