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Reformer and Slavery: William Lloyd Garrison Essay

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Updated: Feb 23rd, 2021

William Lloyd Garrison was a social reformer and a prominent American abolitionist, as well as a renowned journalist. He is renowned for his contribution in starting the New England and the American Anti-Slavery Societies. As a social reformer, he vehemently fought for the liberation of slaves in the United States and was a prominent voice for the Women’s suffrage movement (Henretta, Edwards & Self, 2011).

Garrison joined the Abolitionist movement when he was 25 and was, for a short time, a member of the American Colonization Society. The organization was accused of supporting slavery, and Garrison publicly apologized for his association with the group. According to William E. Cain, “Garrison rejected colonization, publicly apologized for his error, and then, as was typical of him, he censured all who were committed to it.”

In 1831, he founded an anti-slavery newspaper, The liberator, and on its first issue, he wrote:

I am aware that many objects 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. On this subject, I do not wish to think or to 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 baby 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. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal and to hasten the resurrection of the dead (Cain, 1995).

The newspaper was published until the end of the civil war and the abolition of slavery by the enactment of the Thirteenth Amendment. The paper helped to end slavery by voicing the brutality and suffering the slave underwent. In the last issue of the Liberator, Garrison wrote.

The object for which the Liberator was commenced—the extermination of chattel slavery—having been gloriously consummated, it seems to be especially appropriate to let its existence cover the historical period of the great struggle; leaving what remains to be done to complete the work of emancipation to other instrumentalities, (of which I hope to avail myself,) under new auspices, with more abundant means, and with millions instead of hundreds for allies. (Sikkenga & Frost, 2003).

For a person trying to understand slavery in the south of America, they should be aware of various things. The first thing needed is understanding the beginning of slavery in South America, the Abolitionist movement, slaves uprising, and the compromise of 1850.

The first legally recognized slave was John Casor, who, in 1614 lost his freedom suit after the court declared his property for life since he people of African origin could not be considered under the English Common Laws. The slave code was first enacted in 1705 by the House of Burgesses. From its legislation, the South applied it and used slaves in their plantations and homes. The Abolitionist movement started after various people started to voice their discontent with slavery. One of the most notable of these people was Garrison. The south during the Abolition Movement still maintained slaves and were against the movement.

Another important thing to note about the South during this period is the the enactment of the compromise of 1850 and its effect on the region. According to the enactment the Southerners could used the Fugitive slave law to hunt down runaway slaves. The other significant thing to note about the South during this period is the effect of the Kansas-Nebraska Act that saw the Southerners and Northerners fight. The Northerners had abolished slavery while the Southerners still practiced it. War broke out between the two when they differed on whether the territory would be admitted as a slave state or a free state (Jordan, 2008).

References

Cain, W. E. (1995). William Lloyd Garrison and the fight against slavery: selections from The Liberator. Boston : Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press.

Henretta, A., Edwards, R., & Self, O. (2011). America’s History. New York: Bedford Martins.

Johnson, O. (2008). William Lloyd Garrison and his times: or, Sketches of the anti-slavery movement in America, and of the man who was its founder and moral leader. London: Searle & Rivington.

Jordan, W. D. (2008). Slavery and the American South. Jackson : Univ Pr Of Mississippi.

Sikkenga, J., & Frost, B. P. (2003). History of American political thought. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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