The Liberator (anti-slavery newspaper)
The Liberator (1831-1865) was an abolitionist newspaper founded by William Lloyd Garrison in 1831. Garrison published weekly issues of The Liberator from Boston continuously for 35 years, from January 1, 1831, to the final issue of January 1, 1866. Although its circulation was only about 3,000, and three-quarters of subscribers were African Americans in 1834, the newspaper earned nationwide notoriety for its uncompromising advocacy of "immediate and complete emancipation of all slaves" in the United States. Garrison set the tone for the paper in his famous open letter "To the Public" in the first issue:
... Assenting to the "self-evident truth" maintained in the American Declaration of Independence, "that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights -- among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," I shall strenuously contend for the immediate enfranchisement of our slave population. In Park-street Church, on the Fourth of July, 1829, in an address on slavery, I unreflectingly assented to the popular but pernicious doctrine of gradual abolition. I seize this opportunity to make a full and unequivocal recantation, and thus publicly to ask pardon of my God, of my country, and of my brethren the poor slaves, for having uttered a sentiment so full of timidity, injustice and absurdity. A similar recantation, from my pen, was published in the Genius of Universal Emancipation at Baltimore, in September, 1829. My consicence in now satisfied.
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 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 hand 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 Liberator faced harsh resistance from several state legislatures and local groups: for example, North Carolina indicted Garrison for felonious acts, and the Vigilance Association of Columbia, South Carolina, offered a reward of $1,500 ($25,957.20 in 2005 dollars) to those who identified distributors of the paper.
The Liberator continued for three decades from its founding through the end of the American Civil War. Garrison ended the newspaper's run with a valedictory column at the end of 1865, when the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery throughout the United States.
Woman’s rights advocacy
The Liberator also became an avowed woman’s rights newspaper when the prospectus for its 1838 issue declared that as the paper’s object was “to redeem woman as well as man from a servile to an equal condition,” it would support “the rights of woman to their utmost extent.” In January and February 1838, the Liberator published Sarah Grimké’s “Letters on the Province of Woman” in the paper, and later in the year published them in pamphlet form as Letters on the Equality of the Sexes, and the Condition of Woman. During the following decades, the Liberator promoted women’s rights by publishing editorials, petitions, convention calls and proceedings, speeches, legislative action, and other material advocating woman suffrage, equal property rights, and women’s educational and professional equality. The Liberator’s printers – Isaac Knapp (1808-1858), James Brown Yerrinton (1800-1866) and James Manning Winchell Yerrinton (1825-1893), and Robert Folger Wallcut (1797-1884) – printed many of the woman’s rights tracts used in the 1850s.
All of the following articles were written by Garrison.
- "To the Public", Garrison's introductory column for The Liberator, January 1, 1831.
- "Truisms", January 8, 1831.
- "Walker's Appeal", January 8, 1831.
- "The Insurrection", Garrison's reaction to the news of Nat Turner's slave rebellion in Virginia, September 3, 1831.
- "The Great Crisis!", December 29, 1832, one of Garrison's first explicit condemnations of the Constitution and the Union.
- "Declaration of Sentiments", adopted by the Boston Peace Convention September 18, 1838, reprinted in The Liberator, September 28, 1838.
- "Abolition at the Ballot Box", June 28, 1839.
- "The American Union", January 10, 1845.
- "On the Dissolution of the Union", June 15, 1855.
- "The Tragedy at Harper's Ferry", Garrison's first public comments on John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, October 28, 1859.
- "John Brown and the Principle of Nonresistance", the transcript of a speech given for a meeting in the Tremont Temple, Boston, on December 2, 1859, the day that John Brown was hanged, printed December 16, 1859.
- "The War_Its Cause and Cure", May 3, 1861.
- "Valedictory: The Final Number of The Liberator", Garrison's closing column for The Liberator, December 29, 1865.
- Ripley, C. Peter (1991). The Black Abolitionist Papers: Vol. III: The United States, 1830-1846, p. 9. UNC Press. ISBN 0-8078-1926-3.
- Clark, Carmen E., "Garrison, William Lloyd", in Vaughn, Stephen L. (ed.) (2007). Encyclopedia of American Journalism, p. 195. CRC Press. ISBN 0-415-96950-6.
- Liberator, Dec. 15, 1837.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Liberator (anti-slavery newspaper).|
- Streitmatter, Rodger (2001). Voices of Revolution. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 21–35. ISBN 0-231-12249-7.
- The Liberator Files, Horace Seldon's collection and summary of research of The Liberator original copies at the Boston Public Library, Boston, Massachusetts.