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Garrison, William Lloyd (1805–1879)


William Lloyd Garrison edited America's leading abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator (1831–1865), and helped found the New England Anti-Slavery Society (1831) and the American Anti-Slavery Society (1833; president, 1843–1865). Garrison believed pacifism, nonresistance, and moral suasion could end slavery. He argued that the Constitution supported slavery and was "a covenant with death and an agreement with Hell." Thus, he refused to vote or voluntarily support civil government, and after 1843 Garrison and his followers advocated a peaceful dissolution of the Union under the slogan "No Union with Slaveholders." More moderate abolitionists rejected Garrison's analysis of the Constitution, his opposition to antislavery political candidates and parties, and his extreme tactics, such as publicly burning the Constitution and declaring "So perish all compromises with tyranny." Despite his disunionist beliefs, he ultimately gave tacit support to abraham lincoln and the Union during the civil war.

Paul Finkelman


Thomas, John L. 1963 The Liberator. Boston: Little, Brown.

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