Garrison, William Lloyd

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps

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William Lloyd Garrison, publisher of the anti-slavery newspaper The Liberator and founder of the American Anti-Slavery Society, was one of the most fiery and outspoken abolitionists of the Civil War period.

Garrison was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, on December 10, 1805. In 1808, Garrison's father abandoned his family leaving them close to destitute. At age 13, after working at a number of jobs, Garrison became an apprentice to Ephraim Allen, editor of the Newbury-port Herald.

Garrison later moved to Boston where he became editor of the National Philanthropist in 1828. At that time, Garrison became acquainted with the prominent Quaker Benjamin Lundy, editor of the Baltimore-based antislavery newspaper, the Genius of Universal Emancipation. In 1829, Garrison became co-editor of Lundy's publication and began his vigorous advocacy for abolishing SLAVERY. Shortly thereafter, Garrison was sued by a merchant engaged in the slave trade. He was convicted of LIBEL and spent seven weeks in prison, an experience that strengthened his conviction that all slaves should be set free.

After his release from jail in 1830, Garrison returned to Boston where he joined the American Colonization Society, an organization that promoted the idea that free blacks should emigrate to Africa. When it became clear that most members of the group did not support freeing slaves, but just wanted to reduce the number of free blacks in the United States, Garrison withdrew from membership.

In January 1831, Garrison founded The Liberator, which he published for 35 years and which became the most famous antislavery newspaper of its era. Although he was a pacifist, Garrison struck a formidable stance in the very first issue in which he proclaimed, "I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation ? I will not retreat a single inch?AND I WILL BE HEARD." The Liberator, which never had a paid circulation greater than three thousand became one of the most widely disseminated, consistent, and dominating voices of the ABOLITION movement.

Antislavery advocates of the day, or abolitionists, were widely divergent in their views of

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how and when slavery should be ended and what should happen to freed slaves after emancipation. Garrison was part of a group which believed that abolition of slavery must happen as quickly as possible. Those who sought "immediatism," however were divided on how to achieve this...

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