William Lloyd Garrison
American journalist and abolitionist
- It is an abuse of language to talk of the slavery of wages... We cannot see that it is wrong to give or receive wages.
- As quoted in Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction (2012), by Allen C. Guelzo, Chapter One
- I will say, finally, that I despair of the republic while slavery exists therein. If I look up to God for success, no smile of mercy or forgiveness dispels the gloom of futurity; if to our own resources, they are daily diminishing; if to all history, our destruction is not only possible, but almost certain. Why should we slumber at this momentous crisis? If our hearts were dead to every throb of humanity; if it were lawful to oppress, where power is ample; still, if we had any regard for our safety and happiness, we should strive to crush the Vampire which is feeding upon our life-blood. All the selfishness of our nature cries aloud for a better security. Our own vices are too strong for us, and keep us in perpetual alarm; how, in addition to these, shall we be able to contend successfully with millions of armed and desperate men, as we must eventually, if slavery do not cease?
- Address to the Colonization Society (4 July 1829)
- I cherish as strong a love for the land of my nativity as any man living. I am proud of her civil, political and religious institutions — of her high advancement in science, literature and the arts — of her general prosperity and grandeur. But I have some solemn accusations to bring against her. I accuse her of insulting the majesty of Heaven with the grossest mockery that was ever exhibited to man — inasmuch as, professing to be the land of the free and the asylum of the oppressed, she falsifies every profession, and shamelessly plays the tyrant.
I accuse her, before all nations, of giving an open, deliberate and base denial to her boasted Declaration, that "all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
I accuse her of disfranchising and proscribing nearly half a million free people of color, acknowledging them not as countrymen, and scarcely as rational beings, and seeking to drag them thousands of miles across the ocean on a plea of benevolence, when they ought to enjoy all the rights, privileges and immunities of American citizens.
I accuse her of suffering a large portion of her population to be lacerated, starved and plundered, without law and without justification, at the will of petty tyrants.
I accuse her of trafficking in the bodies and souls of men, in a domestic way, to an extent nearly equal to the foreign slave trade; which traffic is equally atrocious with the foreign, and almost as cruel in its operations.
I accuse her of legalizing, on an enormous scale, licentiousness, fraud, cruelty and murder.
- Address to the World Anti-slavery Convention, London (12 July 1833)
- The right to enjoy liberty is inalienable. To invade it is to usurp the prerogative of Jehovah. Every man has a right to his own body—to the products of his own labor—to the protection of law—and to the common advantages of society. It is piracy to buy or steal a native African, and subject him to servitude. Surely, the sin is as great to enslave an American as an African.
- But the moment he holds them [slaves] as property, however kindly he may treat them, he is a man-stealer, whom the apostle classes among ‘murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers.’
- Letter to Gerrit Smith, (Feb. 7, 1835), The Letters of William Lloyd Garrison, vol. 1, Walter M. Merrill, edit., Belknap Press-Harvard University Press, 1971, p. 445
- Our country is the world, our countrymen are all mankind. We love the land of our nativity, only as we love all other lands. The interests, rights, and liberties of American citizens are no more dear to us than are those of the whole human race. Hence we can allow no appeal to patriotism, to revenge any national insult or injury.
- Declaration of Sentiments, Boston Peace Conference (28 September 1838)
- The compact which exists between the North and the South is a covenant with death and an agreement with hell.
- Resolution adopted by the Antislavery Society (27 January 1843); referencing Isaiah 28:15: "We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement".
- Every slave is a stolen man; every slaveholder is a man-stealer. By no precedent, no example, no law, no compact, no purchase, no bequest, no inheritance, no combination of circumstances, is slaveholding right or justifiable. While a slave remains in his fetters, the land must have no rest.
- We have a natural right, therefore, to seek the abolition of slavery throughout the globe. It is our special duty to make Massachusetts free soil, so that the moment the fugitive slave stands upon it, he shall take his place in the ranks of the free. God commands us to "hide the outcast, and bewray not him that wandereth." I say, LET THE WILL OF GOD BE DONE! That is "the head and front" of my "fanaticism"! That is the extent of my "infidelity"! That comprehends all of my "treason"! THE WILL OF GOD BE DONE!
- John Brown and the Principle of Nonresistance (16 December 1859)
- What shall be said, then, of those who insist upon ignoring the question of slavery as not involved in this deadly feud, and maintain that the only issue is, the support of the government and the preservation of the Union? Surely, they are "fools and blind"; for it is slaveholders alone who have conspired to seize the one, and overturn the other. As long as the enslavement of a single human being is sanctioned in the land, the curse of God will rest upon it.
- The War — Its Cause and Cure (3 May 1861)
- I have not come here with reference to any flag but that of freedom. If your Union does not symbolize universal emancipation, it brings no Union for me. If your Constitution does not guarantee freedom for all, it is not a Constitution I can ascribe to. If your flag is stained by the blood of a brother held in bondage, I repudiate it in the name of God. I came here to witness the unfurling of a flag under which every human being is to be recognized as entitled to his freedom. Therefore, with a clear conscience, without any compromise of principles, I accepted the invitation of the Government of the United States to be present and witness the ceremonies that have taken place today.
And now let me give the sentiment which has been, and ever will be, the governing passion of my soul: "Liberty for each, for all, and forever!"
- Speech in Charleston, South Carolina (14 April 1865)
The Liberator (1831 - 1866)Edit
- Let Southern oppressors tremble — let their secret abettors tremble — let their Northern apologists tremble — let all the enemies of the persecuted blacks tremble.
- No. 1 (1 January 1831)
- 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 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 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. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal, and to hasten the resurrection of the dead.
- Formerly, the purchase of Texas by our Government, for the purpose of bestowing it as a gift upon our colored population, was a favorite opinion of ours; but we have settled down into the belief, that the object is neither practicable nor expedient. In the first place, it is not probable that the Congress would make the purchase; nor, secondly, is it likely that the mass of our colored people would remove without some compulsory process; nor, thirdly, would it be safe or convenient to organise them as a distinct nation among us,—an imperium in imperio. The fact is, it is time to repudiate all colonization schemes, as visionary and unprofitable; all those, we mean, which have for their design the entire separation of the blacks from the whites. We must take our free colored and slave inhabitants as we find them—recognise them as countrymen who have extraordinary claims upon our charities—give them the advantages of education—respect them as members of one great family, who may be made useful in society and honorable in reputation. This is our view of the subject.
- The Liberator (22 January 1861)
- For, by the logic of Concord, Lexington, and Bunker Hill, and by the principles enforced by this nation in its boasted Declaration of Independence, Capt. Brown was a hero, struggling against fearful odds, not for his own advantage, but to redeem others from a horrible bondage, to be justified in all that he aimed to achieve, however lacking in sound discretion. And by the same logic and the same principles, every slave-holder has forfeited his right to live, if his destruction be necessary to enable his victims to break the yoke of bondage; and they, and all who are disposed to aid them by force and arms, are fully warranted in carrying rebellion to any extent, and securing freedom at whatever cost.
- No. 170 (28 October 1859)
- Better to be always in a minority of one with God — branded as madman, incendiary, fanatic, heretic, infidel — frowned upon by "the powers that be," and mobbed by the populace — or consigned ignominiously to the gallows, like him whose "soul is marching on," though his "body lies mouldering in the grave," or burnt to ashes at the stake like Wickliffe, or nailed to the cross like him who "gave himself for the world," — in defence of the RIGHT, than like Herod, having the shouts of a multitude crying, "It is the voice of a god, and not of a man!"
- "Valedictory" (29 December 1865) in the last issue of The Liberator (1 January 1866)
Thoughts on African Colonization (1832)Edit
- Thoughts on African Colonization : Or, An Impartial Exhibition of the Doctrines, Principles and Purposes of the American Colonization Society (1832)
- Is Error, though unwittingly supported by a host of good men, stronger than Truth? Are Right and Wrong convertible terms, dependant upon popular opinion? Oh no! Then I will go forward in the strength of the Lord of Hosts — in the name of Truth — and under the banner of Right. As it is not by might nor by power, but by the Spirit of God, that great moral changes are effected, I am encouraged to fight valiantly in this good cause, believing that I shall "come off conqueror, and more than conqueror" — yet not I, but Truth and Justice. It is in such a contest that one shall chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight.
- Introductory Remarks
- Little boldness is needed to assail the opinions and practices of notoriously wicked men; but to rebuke great and good men for their conduct, and to impeach their discernment, is the highest effort of moral courage. The great mass of mankind shun the labor and responsibility of forming opinions for themselves. The question is not — what is true? but — what is popular? Not — what does God say? but — what says the public? Not — what is my opinion? but — what do others believe?
- Introductory Remarks
- Unhappily, to borrow the words of Ganganelli, a large majority of mankind are "mere abortions": calling themselves rational and intelligent beings, they act as if they had neither brains nor conscience, and as if there were no God, no accountability, no heaven, no hell, no eternity.
- Introductory Remarks
William Lloyd Garrison 1805-1879 (1885)Edit
- William Lloyd Garrison, 1805-1879 : The Story of His Life Told by His Children (1885) by Wendell Phillips Garrison and Francis Jackson Garrison - Full text online: Vol. 1 - Vol. 2 - Vol. 3 - Vol. 4
- With reasonable men, I will reason; with humane men I will plead; but to tyrants I will give no quarter, nor waste arguments where they will certainly be lost.
- Vol. I, p. 188
- Since the creation of the world there has been no tyrant like Intemperance, and no slaves so cruelly treated as his.
- Vol. I, p. 268
- We may be personally defeated, but our principles never.
- Vol. I, p. 402
- The Sabbath, as now recognized and enforced, is one of the main pillars of Priestcraft and Superstition, and the stronghold of a merely ceremonial Religion.
- Vol. III, p. 224
- Wherever there is a human being, I see God-given rights inherent in that being, whatever may be the sex or complexion.
- Vol. III, p. 390
- The success of any great moral enterprise does not depend upon numbers.
- Vol. III, p. 473 - I have read this page twice and cannot find this quote.
- You cannot possibly have a broader basis for any government than that which includes all the people, with all their rights in their hands, and with an equal power to maintain their rights.
- Vol. IV, p. 224
Quotes about GarrisonEdit
- Mister Garrison and his friends tell us that while in the Union we are responsible for slavery. He and they sing out 'No Union with slaveholders', and refuse to vote. I admit our responsibility for slavery while in the Union but I deny that going out of the Union would free us from that responsibility. There now clearly is no freedom from responsibility for slavery to any American citizen short to the abolition of slavery. The American people have gone quite too far in this slave-holding business now to sum up their whole business of slavery by singing out the cant phrase, 'No union with slaveholders'. To desert the family hearth may place the recreant husband out of the presence of his starving children, but this does not free him from responsibility. If a man were on board of a pirate ship, and in company with others had robbed and plundered, his whole duty would not be preformed simply by taking the longboat and singing out, 'No union with pirates'. His duty would be to restore the stolen property.
- Frederick Douglass, "The Constitution of the United States: Is It Pro-Slavery or Anti-Slavery?" (26 March 1860), Glasgow, United Kingdom
- Garrison and his followers, such as Wendell Phillips, were fierce critics not only of gradualism and colonization, but also of the racial prejudices that were endemic among many proponents of these schemes. They accordingly called for equal civil and political rights for African Americans… He and many abolitionists asserted that the involuntary servitude of men was 'theft on a grand scale because the slaveowner expropriated from the slave that which was properly his own—namely his body, labor and their fruits.'
- Ronald Hamowy, editor-in-chief, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, "Abolitionism," London: UK, Sage Publishing, Inc., 2008, p. 1 
- The good Lord had had a chance for a long time before the abolition. I believe that there is a moral government; and that God reigns. I am no pessimist; I give thanks to the good Lord, and also to the good men through whom He has worked. Prominent among them was Garrison...
- I had been living four or five months in New Bedford when there came a young man to me with a copy of the Liberator, the paper edited by William Lloyd Garrison and published by Isaac Knapp, and asked me to subscribe for it. I told him I had but just escaped from slavery, and was of course very poor, and had no money then to pay for it. He was very willing to take me as a subscriber, notwithstanding, and from this time I was brought into contact with the mind of Mr. Garrison, and his paper took a place in my heart second only to the Bible. It detested slavery, and made no truce with the traffickers in the bodies and souls of men. It preached human brotherhood; it exposed hypocrisy and wickedness in high places; it denounced oppression; and with all the solemnity of "Thus saith the Lord," demanded the complete emancipation of my race. I loved this paper and its editor. He seemed to me an all-sufficient match to every opponent, whether they spoke in the name of the law or the gospel. His words were full of holy fire, and straight to the point. Something of a hero-worshiper by nature, here was one to excite my admiration and reverence. It was my privilege to listen to a lecture in Liberty Hall by Mr. Garrison, its editor. He was then a young man, of a singularly pleasing countenance, and earnest and impressive manner. On this occasion he announced nearly all his heresies. His Bible was his textbook — held sacred as the very word of the Eternal Father. He believed in sinless perfection, complete submission to insults and injuries, and literal obedience to the injunction if smitten "on one cheek to turn the other also." Not only was Sunday a Sabbath, but all days were Sabbaths, and to be kept holy. All sectarianism was false and mischievous — the regenerated throughout the world being members of one body, and the head Christ Jesus. Prejudice against color was rebellion against God. Of all men beneath the sky, the slaves, because most neglected and despised, were nearest and dearest to his great heart. Those ministers who defended slavery from the Bible were of their "father the devil"; and those churches which fellowshiped slaveholders as Christians, were synagogues of Satan, and our nation was a nation of liars. He was never loud and noisy, but calm and serene as a summer sky, and as pure. "You are the man — the Moses, raised up by God, to deliver his modern Israel from bondage," was the spontaneous feeling of my heart, as I sat away back in the hall and listened to his mighty words, — mighty in truth, — mighty in their simple earnestness.