The Liberator

William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison

The Liberator was a weekly newspaper published by William Lloyd Garrison in Boston, Massachusetts. William Lloyd Garrison was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts in December, 1805. At thirteen years of age he began his newspaper career with the Newburyport Herald, where he acquired great skills in both accuracy and speed in the art of setting type. He also wrote anonymous articles, and at the age of twenty-one began publishing his own newspaper.

On January 1, 1831 the first issue of The Liberator appeared with the motto: “Our country is the world—our countrymen are mankind.”

Garrison was a journalistic crusader who advocated the immediate emancipation of all slaves and gained a national reputation for being one of the most radical of American abolitionists. The Liberator denounced the Compromise of 1850, condemned the Kansas-Nebraska Act, damned the Dred Scott decision and hailed John Brown’s raid as “God’s method of dealing retribution upon the head of the tyrant.

The slaveholders in the South demanded the end of the incendiary paper and the state of Georgia offered a $5,000 reward for Garrison’s capture. The Liberator was a mighty force from the beginning and became the most influential newspaper in the antebellum antislavery crusade.

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 un-compromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; – but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest- I will not equivocate- I will not excuse- I will not retreat a single inch- AND I WILL BE HEARD.

–William Lloyd Garrison,
in the first issue of The Liberator

After the end of the Civil War in December, 1865, Garrison published his last issue of The Liberator, announcing “my vocation as an abolitionist is ended.” After thirty-five years and 1,820 issues, Garrison had not failed to publish a single issue. He spent the final 14 years of his life campaigning for woman’s suffrage, pacifism and temperance. He died in New York City on May 24, 1879.

Notes

The Liberator is complete and can be broken down into these seven parts:

  • Part I: January 1831–December 1835
  • Part II: January 1836–December 1840
  • Part III: January 1841–December 1845
  • Part IV: January 1846–December 1850
  • Part V: January 1851–December 1855
  • Part VI: January 1856–December 1860
  • Part VII: January 1861–December 1865

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