Back to Inquiry Set

8.9.10 The Liberator

Garrison, William Lloyd
1860 November 02

The Liberator. Boston, Mass. : William Lloyd Garrison and Isaac Knapp, 1831-1865. 35 v. : ill. ; 39-64 cm

From 1831 to 1865, William Lloyd Garrison published the newspaper The Liberator. He used the paper to argue for the immediate end to slavery. Garrison believed black Americans deserved all the same rights as white Americans, and that given time to adjust from slavery, that blacks would be equal in all ways to whites. Garrison's views were labeled extreme even by many Northerners. What do you notice about the images in The Liberator's masthead? How do they reinforce Garrison's arguments? What do you think "No Union with Slaveholders" meant right before the presidential election of 1860?

William Llloyd Garrison eventually published 1,820 issues of his newspaper and used public speeches as a way to advance the cause of ending slavery. He worked alongside abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass and Maria Stewart and printed their speeches in his paper. Garrison also helped organize societies devoted to emancipation, including the New England Anti-Slavery Society. His strong opinions — including that the US Constitution was a pro-slavery document and that the North should secede rather than be yoked to a pro-slavery faction — meant that he was often labeled radical and even lost the favor of other abolitionists, including Douglass. He ended The Liberator's publication in December 1865, celebrating the Thirteenth Amendment and the formal end to slavery in the United States. He went on to support other causes, such as women's suffrage and rights for Native Americans, in the years after the war until his death in 1879.

Our Country is the World, our Countryman is all Mankind

J. B. Yerrinton & Son, Printers
VOL. XXX. NO. 44
Boston, Friday, November 2, 1860
Whole Number, 1558

[Religious imagery with enslaved person pleading for help and the words] "I come to break the bonds of the oppressor. "

[Slave auction image with the words] "Slaves, Horses, and Other Cattle in Lots to Suit Purchase"

[Article at top left] THE LIBERATOR IS PUBLISHED EVERY FRIDAY MORNING [publishing details follow]

[Article on top right] NO UNION WITH SLAVEHOLDERS

The United States Constitution is 'a covenant with death, and an agreement with hell. '

The free States are the guardians and essential supports of slavery. We are the jailers and constables of the institution... There is some excuse for communities, when, under a generous impulse, they espouse the cause of the oppressed in other States, and by force restore their rights; but they are without excuse in aiding other States in binding on men an unrighteous yoke. On this subject, OUR FATHERS, IN FRAMING THE CONSTITUTION, SWERVED FROM THE RIGHT. We their children, at the end of half a century, see the path of duty more clearly than they, and must walk in it. To this point the public mind has long been tending, and the time has come for looking at it fully, dispassionately, and with manly and Christian resolution... No blessing of the Union can be a compensation for taking part in the enslaving of our fellow-creatures; nor ought this bond to be perpetuated, if experience shall demonstrate that it can only continue through our participation in wrong doing. To this conviction the free States are tending. – William Ellery Channing