William Lloyd Garrison

The son of impoverished Nova Scotian immigrants to Massachusetts, William Lloyd Garrison (1805-79) was a skilled printer whom gradual abolitionist Benjamin Lundy converted to the antislavery cause in the late 1820s. Garrison edited the weekly Boston Liberator (1831-65) and by his fiery editorials, quickly became the nationís best-known proponent of uncompromising, immediate abolitionism. Garrison also embraced a nonsectarian brand of Christian perfectionism and championed other unpopular causes including womenís rights, pacifism, and temperance. His perceived radicalism on those issues, along with his virulent denunciation of the both religious and political institutions as proslavery, precipitated the schism of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1840. Garrison thereafter led the nonresistant wing of the abolitionist movement popularly named after him. Although Garrison closed the Liberator in 1865, announcing the abolitionist mission complete, he remained an active reformer to his death. James Brewer Stewart, William Lloyd Garrison and the Challenge of Emancipation (Arlington Heights, Ill., 1992); John L. Thomas, The Liberator: William Lloyd Garrison (Boston, 1863); DAB, 7:168-72.

Home | Biography