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Tue, 12.10.1805

William Lloyd Garrison, Abolitionist born

William L.Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison was born on this date in 1805. He was a white-American abolitionist and newspaper publisher.

The son of a seaman from Newburyport, MA., Garrison was indentured at the age of 14 to the owner of the Newburyport Herald where he became an expert printer.  The struggles of all oppressed peoples for freedom built his kind character as a youth. He expressed this in articles he wrote anonymously or under the pseudonym Airsides, in the Herald, and other newspapers. He tried to awaken Northerners from their apathy over the question of slavery in America.

In 1829, Garrison entered into a partnership with the American antislavery agitator Benjamin Lundy to publish a monthly periodical, the Genius of Universal Emancipation, in Baltimore, MD.  Lundy believed in gradual emancipation, as did Garrison at first, but he soon felt that immediate and complete emancipation was necessary.  Because Baltimore was then a center of the domestic slave trade, Garrison's eloquent accusations of the trade made many whites angry.  A slave trader sued him for libel; he was fined and jailed. After his release from prison, Garrison ended his partnership with Lundy and returned to New England.

In partnership with another American abolitionist, Isaac Knapp, Garrison published The Liberator Newspaper in Boston in 1831; the newspaper became one of the most influential journals in the United States.  Garrison was also a pacifist and involved in other reform movements. He was deeply convinced that slavery had to be abolished by moral force.  He appealed through The Liberator and through his speeches, especially those to religious leaders, for a practical application of Christianity in demanding freedom for the slaves.

His campaign provoked great hostility. That same year the state of Georgia offered a reward of $5000 for his arrest and conviction under Georgia law, and he received hundreds of threats on his life. Fearless, he helped to organize the New England Anti-Slavery Society in 1832. The next year, after a trip to England, where he enlisted the aid of abolitionist sympathizers, he helped establish the national American Anti-Slavery Society, of which he was president from 1843 until 1865.

After the passing of the 13th Amendment in 1865, Garrison decided to cease publication of the Liberator. Garrison spent his last 14 years campaigning for women's suffrage, pacifism, and temperance.

William Lloyd Garrison died on May 24, 1879, at the age of 74.

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