William Lloyd Garrison: Uncompromise During Times of Compromise
William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) was an American journalist and adamant abolitionist. Garrison became famous in the 1830s for his uncompromising denunciations of slavery.
Garrison lived a troubled childhood. His family lived in poverty. In addition, his father was a drunkard, and when Garrison was three years old, his father deserted his family and never came back. Thus, with the absence of an encouraging father figure in his life, Garrison would attempt to gain recognition elsewhere.
Effected by the Second Great Awakening, Garrison developed into an extremely thoughtful and religious man. Garrison believed that slavery was a sin and was an injustice. In 1831, he began publishing the Liberator, an influential newspaper that vehemently aroused violent public reaction in both the North and the South. However, the abolitionists of Garrison’s time were a minority. The Liberator, published until 1865, never had more than 3,000 subscribers, and it never made a profit. Thus, it is fair to say that Garrison’s goal was not to become affluent through this publication.
Garrison used his religious, abolitionist views to elevate himself into renown. He wanted people to hear his views. In response to his abolitionist causes, Garrison proclaimed, “I am in earnest—and I will not equivocate—I will not excuse—I will not retreat a single inch—and I will be heard.”
Garrison enlightened Americans with his altruistic sensibilities, but his motives were not altruistic. He wanted people to side with him, but he did not offer any medicine to ease the wounds of racial tension. His armies of allies grew, but this was gradual. Nevertheless, with no real suggestions on how the slavery issue could be resolved, he accepted the Civil War as necessary. Garrison even went as far as to say that the South should just secede from the Union (“No union...
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