William Lloyd Garrison: First Liberator Editorial

(1831)

Audience

Garrison had no illusions about the willingness of the American people to consider the possibility of abolishing slavery in 1831. He considered the vast majority of his countrymen—especially his fellow New Englanders—to be selfish materialists who practiced a smug, lazy form of Christianity. In earlier years, his antislavery efforts had been condemned by respectable clergymen and hampered by government authorities. Even antislavery groups like the American Colonization Society had proved timid and hypocritical. It was not to institutions that Garrison spoke. Instead, the first editorial of the Liberator was aimed most broadly at the consciences of individuals wherever he could find them. By utilizing language explicitly and implicitly drawn from theBible, he reached across class and racial lines to stir the most basic shared values of decency and justice. Fundamentally, Garrison desired to touch the common chord of humanity that would link the slaveholder and the...

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William Lloyd Garrison (Library of Congress)

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