Garrison Literary and Benevolent Association

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The Garrison Literary and Benevolent Association was a 19th-century association of young African American males whose purpose was promoting the abolition of slavery and the reformation of society.[1]


This all-male club began in New York City under the leadership of Henry Highland Garnet, William H. Day and David Ruggles in March of 1834. 150 African American youth, all below the age of 20, gathered in a public school for its first meeting.[2]

Controversy with name[edit]

The inclusion of William Lloyd Garrison's name was controversial and drew immediate reactions. For example, a city official informed the young men they needed to find another name for their club in order to continue using public facilities. The defiant young scholars decided to keep the name and move to a private location instead.

"The young men passed several resolutions rejecting the 'uncalled for usurpation' of authority, keeping Garrison in the title, authorizing the Executive Committee to rent a meeting room, and declaring that the name would be passed down 'to posterity.' It was then ordered that a silk society banner be painted. 'It was pleasant to hear the little ones cry -- Garrison! Garrison! forever,' proclaimed the visitor."[3]


The preamble to the constitution of this organization was published in The Liberator on April 19, 1834.

External links[edit]

Hofstra University, Professor Alan J. Singer site


  1. ^ Aptheker, Herbert (1971). A Documentary History of the Negro People in the United States., v. 1,. Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press. pp. 151–152. ISBN 0806501685. 
  2. ^ Steven Wilder, Craig (2002). In The Company Of Black Men: The African Influence on African American Culture in New York City. New York: NYU Press. p. 87. ISBN 081479534X. 
  3. ^ Wilder, Craig Steven (July 1998). "The Rise and Influence of the New York African Society for Mutual Relief, 1808–1865". Afro - Americans in New York Life and History. 22 (2): 7.