Thursday, January 15, 2009

Janury 1, 1831- William Lloyd Garrison publishes the Liberator

William Lloyd Garrison publishes the abolitionist newspaper Liberator.

William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in December, 1805. He was a working person who served as a printer’s apprentice, becoming the editor of a number of New England newspapers before becoming co-editor of the Genius of Universal Emancipation, an anti-slavery publication.  He was imprisoned for libel after criticizing a slave trader in his publication.  While in prison he strengthened his anti-slavery views, eschewing his previous call for gradual emancipation.  He started his own paper, “The Liberator,” starting on January 1, 1831.  Its masthead read, “Our country is the world - our countrymen are mankind.”

He was also one of the founders of the New England Anti-Slavery Society and the national Anti-Slavery Society.  Garrison was an ardent feminist and a pacifist, although he supported the Union in the Civil War, viewing it as a war of African liberation.

Garrison viewed the Constitution as a document of slavery, and publicly burned a copy at an anti-slavery rally.  “The Liberator” never achieved a circulation over 3,000, but its influence was far more widespread.  Garrison’s tenacity and unwillingness to compromise for the sake of political expediency should serve as a model for today’s politicians, journalists and activists.

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