From 1861 to 1865, the US experienced a civil war that was the result of a conflict between the North and the South. The primary reason for the emergence of this disunion within the country was the difference between the sides’ opinions on the abolition of slavery. As with most other wars, the seeds for this conflict were sown long before 1861. Slavery existed in the US since its creation in 1776, and the abolitionist movement, likewise, took its roots at around the same time. Many individuals, of both white and black races, were speaking out against the practice of enslaving African American people for free labor, an opinion that was becoming more and more widespread. One such opposer was William Lloyd Garrison, the publisher of the anti-slavery newspaper “The Literator” and the founder of the American Anti-Slavery Society. The purpose of this paper is to outline this historical figure’s upbringing, beliefs, and contribution to the abolitionist movement.
The Early Life of William Lloyd Garrison
William Lloyd Garrison was born in 1805 to a couple of immigrants in Massachusetts. By the age of 18, he had lost both of his parents as his father deserted the family, and his mother passed away. As a teenager, Garrison was already working in the sphere for which he would later become known as he started writing articles for a local newspaper. It was this job that first introduced him to the abolitionist movement in which the young man became greatly interested. Gaining the necessary skills of a writer and an orator, in his 20s, Garrison founded the anti-slavery newspaper “The Literator” and the American Anti-Slavery Society.
Abolitionist Beliefs And ACts of William Lloyd Garrison
Nowadays, the condemnation of slavery practices seems a natural opinion to have. However, in the 19th century, this belief was considered controversial, and sharing it could prove perilous. “Garrison experienced those dangers first-hand” as after a public speech at the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society, “two thousand Bostonians captured him, dragged him through the city streets, and planned to” lynch him (Railton). However, this incident was not enough to deter the abolitionist from his cause.
Up until the end of the American Civil War, Garrison would prove to be a strong ally for black people seeking freedom. He achieved this by publishing reports on the barbarities of slavery, rallying against the American Colonization Society, and speaking out on the issue at different meetings despite continuous threats on his life (Blackett, p. 15). Another essential facet of Garrison’s stance against slavery is the fact that he used his position of power as a white man “to amplify the voices and work of less privileged activists and communities” (Railton). This is particularly apparent in his friendship with Frederick Douglas, who was a former slave and one of the key figures of the abolitionist movement. The founder of “The Literator” “helped secure a publication for and wrote a preface to his ally’s first book” (Railton). Garrison closed down his newspaper and left the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1865 after the abolition of slavery. However, even after this decision, he continued to participate in social reforms aimed at establishing equal rights for many minorities, including black people, native Americans, and women.
The fight for the abolition of slavery started long before the American Civil War began, with many individuals speaking out against the practice and delivering their message to the masses. One of the key figures of this movement was William Lloyd Garrison, a white man who used his privilege to establish a newspaper and a society dedicated to the fight against slavery. Most of his 73 years were dedicated to amplifying the voices of the minorities and the marginalized communities in the US.
- Blackett, Richard. “’And There Shall Be No More Sea’: William Lloyd Garrison and the Transatlantic Abolitionist Movement.” William Lloyd Garrison at Two Hundred, edited by James Brewer Stewart, 2008, pp. 13-40.
- Railton, Ben. “Considering History: William Lloyd Garrison — An Activist Ahead of His Time.” The Saturday Evening Post, 2019. Web.