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Read more about the life and work of William Lloyd Garrison.

The first editorial written by William Lloyd Garrison for his abolitionist newspaper



Garrison the Great

Do you like reality? What can you do to change it?

Amidst the screams and shouts that accompany life, we must find our own peace in silence. Inner serenity must be attained so that we can hear our own spirits. It is only when we do this that we are able to muster the courage to make our unique and triumphant voices sound for all the world to hear! One such individual was able to make his voice heard for over thirty years, despite all of those who would rather shove him in a tomb than see his soul bloom. That person was William Lloyd Garrison, ardent abolitionist, thinker, publicist, and one bad... shut your mouth!


Could anyone have known on that cold December morning in 1805, in Newburyport, MA, that they would witness the birth of someone with such a fiery heart? Probably not, but it was that very heart that would be put to the test through the various jobs that William Lloyd Garrison would have to work to support his fatherless family. It was through these various jobs that he became an apprentice to a newspaper called the Newburyport Herald. Soon, he was not only writing for the newspaper, but also editing it.

Don't just be a body, be Somebody

Let us fast-forward to WLG (he told me I could call him that) at the age of twenty-five, when he was just starting to become involved in the abolitionist movement. He joined an organization called the American Colonization Society. Initially, I hit the brakes rather hard on the name of this organization. I did so for good reason: it turns out that they were not about the abolition of slavery at all! They actually wanted to ship formerly enslaved peoples off to the west coast of Africa, thereby decreasing the number of free blacks while still maintaining slavery.


All the other trekkers know how much I love water. However...

Thankfully, WLG withdrew his efforts from this area. He also worked for a Quaker newspaper named the Genius of Universal Emancipation. Now that sounds more like it! Yet it was here that Garrison's writing led to his arrest. He chose to criticize a merchant who dealt in the slave trade. From this episode he spent seven weeks in jail. After his release his "gun" was cocked and he was ready to "aim and shoot" in the name of abolishing of slavery. Not long after, he began publishing his own newspaper, known as the Liberator.

 Triple-threat, Fredrick Douglass, WLG, and Lewis Hayden

"My country is the world, and my countrymen are mankind". This sweeping statement was the slogan for the Liberator and truly embodied the life and spirit of Garrison. He had the help of other abolitionists, such as Frederick Douglass and Lewis Hayden Garrison's unrelenting spirit caused him to be reviled by proponents of slavery. The state of Georgia actually offered five thousand dollars for Garrison's arrest and conviction.

Caption: Please let your light shine on the world!

This was done because of Garrison's efforts to help a woman named Prudence Crandall open a school for black girls in Boston. In other words, Garrison's blood was sought after so fervently only for believing (and speaking on it) that "all men are created equal." He later denounced the Declaration of Independence as nothing but words of hypocrisy, written on parchment of untruth. Garrison claimed, "I am aware that many object to the severity of my language, but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice."

And what about you, friend? Do you, too, see hypocrisy, lies, and the ways of the unjust affecting your daily life? These events can take place in the halls of our government or on your own school grounds. Garrison should indeed inspire you to take action. This was a man who could have easily (probably more easily) profited from slavery than he did by fighting it. Ahhh... but he did not! He took the road less traveled. Your feet are no more sensitive than Garrison's, so go out and let your light shine on the world!


Please email me at: kevin1@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Irene - Black abolitionist Frederick Douglass: A blazing intellect and a heart on fire
Daphne -- All aboard the Underground Railroad
Kevin - America's open season for "slavecatchers"