William Lloyd Garrison

American journalist and abolitionist (1805–1879) / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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William Lloyd Garrison (December 10, 1805 – May 24, 1879) was an American abolitionist, journalist and social reformer. He is best known for his widely read anti-slavery newspaper The Liberator, which Garrison founded in 1831 and published in Boston until slavery in the United States was abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865.

Quick facts: William Lloyd Garrison, Born, Died, Resting p...
William Lloyd Garrison
Garrison c.1870
Born(1805-12-10)December 10, 1805
DiedMay 24, 1879(1879-05-24) (aged 73)
Resting placeForest Hills Cemetery, Boston
Occupation(s)Abolitionist, journalist
Known forEditing The Liberator
Political partyRepublican
Helen Eliza Benson Garrison
(m. 1834; died 1876)

Garrison promoted "no-governmentism" and rejected the inherent validity of the American government on the basis that its engagement in war, imperialism, and slavery made it corrupt and tyrannical. He initially opposed violence as a principle and advocated for Christian pacifism against evil; at the outbreak of the Civil War, he abandoned his previous principles and embraced the armed struggle and the Lincoln administration. He was one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society and promoted immediate and uncompensated, as opposed to gradual and compensated, emancipation of slaves in the United States. According to the author John Jay Chapman:

The source of Garrison's power was the Bible. From his earliest days, he read the Bible constantly and prayed constantly. It was with this fire that he started his conflagration. ... So also, a prejudice against all fixed forms of worship, against the authority of human government, against every binding of the spirit into conformity with human law, – all these things grew up in Garrison's mind out of his Bible reading.[1]:164,166

Garrison was a typesetter, which aided him in running The Liberator, and when working on his own editorials for the paper, Garrison would set them in type without first writing them out on paper.[1]:57 Of the paper's impact on Garrison's influence, Chapman wrote:

From the day Garrison established the Liberator he was the strongest man in America. He was affected in his thought by no one. What he was thinking, all men were destined to think. ... His power of arousing uncontrollable disgust was a gift, like magic; and he seems to sail upon it as a demon upon the wind. Not Andrew Jackson, nor John Quincy Adams, nor Webster, nor Clay, nor Benton, nor Calhoun, who dance like shadows about his machine, but William Lloyd Garrison becomes the central figure in American life. ... He vitalized and permanently changed this nation as much as one man ever did the same for any nation in the history of the world.[1]:6–8

Much like the martyred Elijah Lovejoy, a price was on Garrisons's head; he was burned in effigy and gallows were erected in front of his Boston office. Later on, Garrison would emerge as a leading advocate of women's rights, which prompted a split in the abolitionist community. In the 1870s, Garrison became a prominent voice for the women's suffrage movement.