William Lloyd Garrison & Maria Stewart
17 December 1879
From the Satucket Lectionary
William Lloyd Garrison (December 13, 1805 – May 24, 1879) was a prominent American abolitionist, journalist, and social reformer. He is best known as the editor of the radical abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator, and as one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society, he promoted “immediate emancipation” of slaves in the United States. Garrison was also a prominent voice for the women’s suffrage movement and a notable critic of the prevailing conservative religious orthodoxy that supported slavery and opposed suffrage for women.
William Lloyd Garrison was born on December 13, 1805, in Newburyport, Massachusetts, the son of immigrants from the province of New Brunswick, Canada. When he was 25 he joined the Abolition movement. Garrison began writing for and became co-editor with Benjamin Lundy of the Quaker Genius of Universal Emancipation newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland. Garrison’s experience as a printer and newspaper editor allowed him to revamp the layout of the paper and freed Lundy to spend more time traveling as an anti-slavery speaker.
In 1831, Garrison returned to New England and founded a weekly anti-slavery newspaper of his own, The Liberator. In the first issue, Garrison stated:
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.
In 1832, Garrison founded the New-England Anti-Slavery Society. The next year, he co-founded the American Anti-Slavery Society. Garrison made a name for himself as one of the most articulate, as well as most radical, opponents of slavery. His approach to emancipation stressed nonviolence and passive resistance, and he attracted a vocal following. While some other abolitionists of the time favored gradual emancipation, Garrison argued for “immediate and complete emancipation of all slaves”
After the abolition of slavery in the United States, Garrison continued working on other reform movements, especially temperance and women’s suffrage. He ended the run of The Liberator at the end of 1865, and in May 1865, announced that he would resign the Presidency of the American Anti-Slavery Society and proposed a resolution to declare victory in the struggle against slavery and dissolve the Society. After his withdrawal from AAS and the end of The Liberator, Garrison continued to participate in public debate and to support reform causes, devoting special attention to the causes of women’s rights and of civil rights for blacks.
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Maria Stewart (Maria Miller) (1803 – December 17, 1879) was an African American public speaker, abolitionist, and feminist. She was born in Hartford, Connecticut and at the age of five became an orphan and was sent to live with a minister and his family, where she was a servant in their home. She later moved to Boston, and married James W. Stewart. He died after only three years of marriage, and she was cheated out of a considerable inheritance. She then embarked on a short (1831-1833) writing and public speaking career, for which she is best known. Her most famous speech was Religion and the pure principles of Morality The sure Foundation on which We Must Build. This and others were published in William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator.
She later moved to New York, and then to Washington, DC, where she was head matron of the Freedman’s Hospital.