WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON
"Every man is equivalent to every other man. Destroy the equivalent, and what is left? 'So God created man in his own image—male and female created he them.' This is a death-blow to all claims of superiority, to all charges of inferiority, to all usurpation, to all oppressive dominion."
WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON
William Lloyd Garrison was a nationally-known writer, speaker, and newspaper publisher who became a leader in the anti-slavery movement. He started and edited the famous anti-slavery newspaper, “The Liberator.” Garrison also helped start the American Anti-Slavery Society, which advocated for the immediate freedom of slaves in the U.S. Later in his life, Garrison joined leading activists to fight for women’s rights, particularly the right to vote.
Garrison joined the anti-slavery movement at age 25 after reading Reverend John Rankin’s book, “Letters on Slavery.” He began writing for and editing various newspapers. Early in his journalism career, Garrison wrote “The Black List,” a newspaper column that printed short reports of kidnappings, whippings, murders, and other atrocities of slavery, naming specific slave owners. He was put in jail for seven weeks after being sued by one of the slave owners.
Garrison’s weekly anti-slavery newspaper, “The Liberator,” gained a large following in the northern states, state legislatures, governor’s mansions, Congress, and the White House. Supporters paid to have the newspaper delivered to influential public officials. The newspaper also became the leading advocate for women’s rights throughout the 1840s.
Garrison was considered a radical opponent of slavery because he argued for the immediate and complete freedom of all slaves. His outspoken views repeatedly placed him in physical danger. Southern states put a bounty on Garrison’s head for his capture dead or alive, and he frequently received death threats.
After slavery was abolished in all U.S. states, Garrison continued to fight for public reform, including civil rights for African Americans and women’s rights.
CENTERED ON CHRIST
Garrison, a devout Christian, used Scripture from the Christian Bible in his writings and speeches to expose the hypocrisy of slavery as against God-given freedom and man being made in the image of God. Garrison publicly condemned churches and people who called themselves Christians who nevertheless supported slavery. He viewed slavery as a national “sin” for which God would judge the nation. His publication, "The Liberator," compiled essays from leading abolitionists that planted into the conscience of the American people the idea that a Christian people cannot tolerate slavery in any form.
Bust of William Lloyd Garrison
Bust of William Lloyd Garrison, Anne Whitney, 1879
Statue of William Lloyd Garrison
Memorial to Garrison on the mall of Commonwealth, Boston
William Lloyd Garrison
William Lloyd Garrison, 1850