William Lloyd Garrison 1805 - 1879
February 29, 2008
William Lloyd Garrison 1805 - 1879 was a great supporter of homeopathy and justice, and according to biographer Henry Mayer, he ‘… inspired two generations of activists—female and male, black and white—and together they built a social movement which, like the civil rights movement of our own day, was a collaboration of ordinary people, stirred by injustice and committed to each other, who achieved a social change that conventional wisdom first condemned as wrong and ridiculed as impossible…’
Garrison was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts and 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.
Garrison soon became involved with the opposition to slavery, writing for and then becoming 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 antislavery speaker.
Garrison initially shared Lundy’s gradualist views, but, while working for the Genius, he became convinced of the need to demand immediate and complete emancipation.
Lundy and Garrison continued to work together on the paper in spite of their differing views, agreeing simply to sign their editorials to indicate who had written it.
One of the regular features that Garrison introduced during his time at the _Genius_ was “The Black List,” a column devoted to printing short reports of “the barbarities of slavery — kidnappings, whippings, murders.”
One of Garrison’s “Black List” columns reported that a shipper from Garrison’s home town of Newburyport, Massachusetts — one Francis Todd — was involved in the slave trade, and that he had recently had slaves shipped from Baltimore to New Orleans on his ship Francis.
Todd filed a suit for libel against both Garrison and Lundy, filing in Maryland in order to secure the favor of pro-slavery courts. The state of Maryland also brought criminal charges against Garrison, quickly finding him guilty and ordering him to pay a fine of $50 and court costs. (Charges against Lundy were dropped on the grounds that he had been traveling and not in control of the newspaper when the story was printed.)
Garrison was unable to pay the fine and was sentenced to a jail term of six months. He was released after seven weeks when the antislavery philanthropist Arthur Tappan donated the money for the fine, but Garrison had decided to leave Baltimore and he and Lundy amicably agreed to part ways…
That same year, 1833, Garrison also visited the United Kingdom and assisted in the anti-slavery movement there. He intended that the Anti-Slavery Society should not align itself with any political party and that women should be allowed full participation in society activities.
When first encountering the stresses of industrial wage labor, ordinary “white” workers began to see their dark-complected neighbors as unwelcome competitors in the labor market and as visual symbols of their own diminishing status and prospects…
Harassment soon turned to street corner bullying and then to invasions of “black” neighborhoods by outraged “white” rioters in several Northern cities, Boston included.
The worst example took place in Cincinnati in 1829, when a “white” mob all but destroyed the city’s community of color and drove out several hundred residents.
Handbills filled with vicious cartoon stereotypes grew ever more popular. Politicians revised Northern state constitutions to deny African Americans’ civil rights (Massachusetts almost did so in 1821).
They also created two mass parties—Whigs and Democrats—that catered heavily to “white” voters’ racial prejudices. Beginning in 1816, the popular American Colonization Society advocated “returning” free people of color to their “homeland” in west Africa since, its leaders claimed, prejudice against them within the United States was too deep to overcome.
Responding to these multiplying threats, members of the “black” elite from cities across the North convened the first annual National Convention of Free People of Color in Philadelphia in 1831.
The delegates agreed on an unprecedented new measure to advance the cause of “uplift” by collecting funds to establish a truly distinguished manual labor school for young men of color in New Haven, Connecticut, in partnership, they hoped, with Yale University.
Two wealthy “white” businessmen from New York City, abolitionists Arthur and Lewis Tappan, pledged to help underwrite the project by matching all funds raised by the convention, to a maximum of $10,000.
The Tappans’ close associate, Boston editor William Lloyd Garrison, issued glowing endorsements of the plan in his militant new abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator, and announced that he would visit England in search of further funding.
To Hosea Easton, this proposal revived the vision of his just-deceased father, but more grandly and boldly than even he could have imagined. On a still larger scale, the proposed school offered a promising way for the National Convention to join with sympathetic “whites” in resisting the rising tide of bigotry.
In the fall of 1835 William Lloyd Garrison spoke before the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society and was attacked by a mob, was hidden in the building, was found and tied up, was dragged through the streets, and was almost lynched before authorities took him to jail for his own safety…
Boston became the center of the abolitionist movement, with Garrison and his disciples the leading advocates and orators for abolitionism…
Garrison was so impressed with Frederick Douglass he asked him to speak the next day at the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society’s convention on Nantucket island, after which he asked Douglass to become a paid lecturer, and agent, for the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society.
Samuel J May (whose letters ended up in the Garrison family archives and vice versa) - An early abolitionist and staunch feminist, May was a UU minister and speaker on the abolitionist circuit. An effective orator, he was repeatedly mobbed. On one trip to Vermont in 1835, he was mobbed five times, one of which turned into a riot.
Often mentioned in same context as William Lloyd Garrison, his home was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Praised by Fredrick Douglass as a staunch friend of Black men, he wrote ”Recollections of the Anti-Slavery Conflict” near the end of his life.
May was only one of four leading male abolitionist who remained true to woman’s suffrage after the Civil War by insisting on woman’s suffrage along with Negro suffrage. He was co-editor along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony of The Revolution, advocating education for Blacks as well as for white women.
How well I remember the day! George Thompson and William Lloyd Garrison having announced an anti-slavery meeting in Seneca Falls, Miss Anthony came to attend it.
Garrison was a friend of Louisa May Alcott and Caroline Healy Dall includes a vignette of Garrison in her journals. Garrison was also a close friend of Harriet Clisby, Julia Ward Howe and Lucy Stone. Moncure Daniel Conway was influenced by Theodore Parker, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, William Lloyd Garrison, and he encouraged Wendell Phillips to became an abolitionist. Homeopaths were always central to this movement.
Garrison campaigned for women physicians and he was present when Horace Greeley escorted Anna Manning Comfort to the podium to receive her homeopathic graduation diploma from her aunt Clemence Lozier’s Homeopathic College in the presence of Wendell Phillips, Henry Ward Beecher, Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Julia Ward Howe, Lucretia Mott, William Lloyd Garrison and Parker Pillsbury.
Other leaders of the feminist-abolitionist coalition gathered to create suffrage organizations, the American Woman Suffrage Organization (1869). Founders of the latter organization included such luminaries as Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, William Lloyd Garrison, and Phebe Hanaford.
Josephine Elizabeth Butler’s letters on abolitionism found their way into the Garrison Family archive alongside letters from homeopaths and homeopathic supporters, as did letters from Susan B. Anthony; Alice Stone Blackwell (homeopath and daughter of Lucy Stone); Frederick Douglass; Henry George; Thomas Wentworth Higginson; Lucy McKim Garrison, the May and Pankhurst families; Harriet Martineau; Theodore Parker; Wendell Phillips; Parker Pillsbury; Joseph Linden Smith (including drawings and sketches); Harriet Tubman; Booker T. Washington; Theodore Dwight Weld; and Marie Zakrzewska.
Mary Baker Eddy Eddy was a close friend of Clemence Lozier, Charlotte Denman Lozier, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Gerrit Smith, Wendell Phillips, Frederick Douglass, Julia Ward Howe, Lucretia Mott, William Lloyd Garrison, Hamilton Wilcox, Emily Howard Jennings Stowe, Susan B Anthony, Parker Pillsbury, Clara Barton, Phoebe Ann (Coffin) Hanaford, Moncure Daniel Conway, Elizabeth Peabody and Abraham Lincoln.
Martha Coffin Pelham Wright’s husband David was also a strong advocate of homeopathy, and they both wanted to send their daughter Eliza to train as a homeopath. Her son William married into the family of homeopath Elizabeth Cady Stanton, her daughter Ellen married William Lloyd Garrison editor of the Liberator, abolitionist and advocate of homeopathy.
It becomes easy to see how Garrison was able to mold this eclectic crowd of reformers into a civil rights movement. All the important players knew each other, were related or were swept up by the events of the time and they were all assembled in Boston at this time.
Garrison’s daughter in law Lucy McKim Garrison worked with homeopath Laura Matilda Towne to transcribe the music of African Americans, and Laura Matilda Towne corresponded with Lucy McKim Garrison (who was able to transcribe the songs) about the music and McKim sang them to friends at gatherings in Lucretia Mott’s house.
In Garrison’s papers, there is a lecture on Homeopathy in the Army.
This series, arranged alphabetically, contains printed material, memorabilia, and related correspondence on forty-one subjects which were of interest to the Garrisons, or about organizations in which they were involved.
These topics range far and wide: reform movements (free trade, single tax, suffrage), minor controversies (the dangers of football and the reform of hockey rules), health issues (anti-vaccination, osteopathy, homeopathy), schools and camps (Auburn Female Seminary, Eagleswood School, Country Day School for Boys, Roxbury Latin School, Harvard University, Sidney Lanier Camp), and Garrison homes and retreats (Wianno).
Some of the subjects relate to only one Garrison, others relate to several and span the generations. The largest and/or richest subjects are abolition (1833-1962), anti-vaccination (1895-1938), free trade and tariff reform (1887-1959), Harvard University (1891-1967), immigration (1871-1924), pacifism (1839-1940), race (1888-1936), single tax (1877-1947), suffrage (1856-1952), temperance (1828-1908), and Wianno (1905-1966).
Anti-imperialism, free trade, single tax, and pacifism contain interrelated material.
There is now a statue of William Lloyd Garrison in Boston, in Western Avenue.