William Lloyd Garrison

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William Lloyd Garrison
BirthplaceNewburyport, Massachusetts, U.S.

Garrison, William Lloyd,

1805–79, American abolitionist, b. Newburyport, Mass. He supplemented his limited schooling with newspaper work and in 1829 went to Baltimore to aid Benjamin LundyLundy, Benjamin,
1789–1839, American abolitionist, b. Sussex co., N.J., of Quaker parentage. A pioneer in the antislavery movement, Lundy founded (1815) the Union Humane Society while operating a saddlery in Ohio.
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 in publishing the Genius of Universal Emancipation. This led (1830) to his imprisonment for seven weeks for libel. On Jan. 1, 1831, he published the first number of the Liberator, a paper that he continued for 35 years (to Dec. 29, 1865), until after the Thirteenth Amendment had been adopted. In the Liberator, Garrison took an uncompromising stand for immediate and complete abolition of slavery. Though its circulation was never over 3,000, the paper became famous for its startling and quotable language. Garrison relied wholly upon moral persuasion, believing in the use of neither force nor the ballot to gain his end. His language antagonized many. In 1835 he was physically attacked in Boston by a mob composed of seemingly respectable people, and thereby won a valuable convert to his cause in Wendell PhillipsPhillips, Wendell,
1811–84, American reformer and orator, b. Boston, grad. Harvard (B.A., 1831; LL.B., 1834). He was admitted to the bar in 1834 but, having sufficient income of his own, he abandoned his law practice to devote his life to fighting for sound causes, chiefly
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. Garrison opposed the work of the American Colonization SocietyAmerican Colonization Society,
organized Dec., 1816–Jan., 1817, at Washington, D.C., to transport free blacks from the United States and settle them in Africa. The freeing of many slaves, principally by idealists, created a serious problem in that no sound provisions were
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 in his Thoughts on African Colonization (1832). He was active in organizing (1831) the New England Anti-Slavery Society and (1833) the American Anti-Slavery Society, of which he was president (1843–65). Garrison also crusaded for other reforms that he united with abolitionism, notably woman suffrage and prohibition. He went so far as to advocate Northern secession from the Union because the Constitution, which Garrison characterized as "a covenant with death and an agreement with Hell," permitted slavery. He burned the Constitution publicly at an abolitionist meeting in Framingham, Mass., on July 4, 1854, and opposed the Civil War until Lincoln issued the Emancipation ProclamationEmancipation Proclamation,
in U.S. history, the executive order abolishing slavery in the Confederate States of America. Desire for Such a Proclamation

In the early part of the Civil War, President Lincoln refrained from issuing an edict freeing the slaves despite
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. Garrison's preeminence in the antislavery cause has been characterized as a "New England myth," some arguing that while Garrison attracted attention, the effective fight against slavery was carried on by lesser known, more realistic men (see abolitionistsabolitionists,
in U.S. history, particularly in the three decades before the Civil War, members of the movement that agitated for the compulsory emancipation of the slaves.
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). Garrison, a difficult personality, was not himself a good organizer.


See his letters, ed. by W. M. Merrill (1971); William Lloyd Garrison … His Life Told by His Children (4 vol., 1885–89, repr. 1969); biographies by W. M. Merrill (1963), J. L. Thomas (1963), A. H. Grimké (1891, repr. 1969); study by A. S. Kraditor (1969); H. Mayer, All On Fire (1998).

Garrison, William Lloyd


Born Dec. 12, 1805, in Newburyport, Mass.; died May 24, 1879, in New York. American political figure, journalist, and poet.

From 1831 to 1865, Garrison published The Liberator, a weekly that played an important role in the development of the abolitionist movement. He initiated the establishment of a society to combat slavery (1832). During the Civil War (1861-65), having united with revolutionary circles of abolitionists, he fought actively for the emancipation of the slaves. Garrison’s literary works were also devoted to the struggle against Negro slavery.


Garrison, William Lloyd

(1805–79) journalist, abolitionist, social activist; born in Newburyport, Mass. With little formal education, he was a printer by trade who became editor of several small New England papers (1824–28). Turning his attention away from temperance to slavery, in Boston (1829) he delivered the first of his innumerable and inflammatory public addresses against slavery; later that year he joined Benjamin Lundy in Baltimore to help edit the Genius of Universal Emancipation. If not the first abolitionist, Garrison was one of the earliest to demand the "immediate and complete emancipation" of slaves. Founder/editor of The Liberator (1831–65), he continued his uncompromising attacks on slavery despite threats and harassment from pro-slavery opponents and often disagreement and dismay from other less absolute abolitionists. Cofounder and agent for the New England Anti-Slavery Society (1831) and its president (1841–63), he favored a peaceful separation of the North and South. To dramatize his contempt for the U.S. Constitution's acceptance of slavery, he publicly burned a copy in Framingham, Mass. (1854), but as a pacifist he opposed the actions of John Brown and others who supported violence. With the end of the Civil War and slavery, he turned his passions and energies to crusading for such reforms as prohibition, the plight of Native Americans, and, above all, women's rights. In 1840, when the world's antislavery convention met in London, he had refused to attend sessions because women were excluded.
References in periodicals archive ?
As a Garrisonian, Douglass had argued that disunion could come from the North or the South and the result would be the same.
Contrary to the view held by both the Garrisonians and the slaveholders, both of whom saw the Constitution as proslavery, Douglass argued that the document forbade slavery and enshrined the colorblind principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence, including the "self-evident" truths that "all men are created equal" and born in possession of "unalienable Rights" Look to the language of the Constitution, he said, and "it will be found to contain principles and purposes, entirely hostile to the existence of slavery.
Several of the community's initial investors, however, broke their ties to Garrisonian abolitionism, embraced possessive individualism, and helped to pave the way for the alliance between abolitionism and capitalism that emerged by the end of the 1840s.
73) Many Garrisonians such as Wright and Webb were angry at Douglass for buying his freedom.
Anthony Rotundo has argued that ardent male friendships were common in nineteenth century America, and intimate male friendships of this sort have recently been discovered among Garrisonian abolitionists and the Virginia gentry,(28) but stereotypes would lead us to assume that hardened soldiers on the raw frontier would scorn such "effeminacy.
Even Garrisonian pacifists came to condone the use of violence in self-defense in Northern black communities.
This satire was a central part of Douglass's speaking repertoire from his very first months as a Garrisonian lecturer (Papers 1:12).
In contrast to his 1845 Narrative, My Bondage and My Freedom reflects a Douglass, who, having separated himself from Garrisonian abolitionism, is now keenly aware of himself as a black man.
For instance, the largely white Garrisonian abolitionists set the stage for a more militant abolitionism led by black activists in the 1850s.
Whether Garrisonian abolitionism hastened the day of emancipation or fueled Southern intransigence remains debatable among historians, though modern-day social reformers are eager to claim his legacy.
As a field lecturer for the AASS, Foster took the message of Garrisonian abolitionism well beyond his native New Hampshire, establishing for himself in the process a national profile.
Proof of the importance of Douglass's independent thinking and development as an orator as well as the influence of Garrisonian thought comes to light in Lampe's discussion of Douglass's first months on the abolitionist tour.