Wednesday, January 02, 2013

January 1, 1831: First issue of the anti-slavery newspaper The Liberator

January 1, 1831: First issue of the anti-slavery newspaper The Liberator  published in Boston, Massachusetts. In this issue of The Liberator, co-founder William Lloyd Garrison vowed, "I will be as harsh as truth, as un-compromising as justice...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 Boston-based newspaper had a run of thirty-five years, publishing weekly issues from January 2, 1831 through the end of December 1865. The content includes fierce editorials, news reports, calls to action, obituaries and births, personal stories, updates on activity of abolitionist efforts, and even poetry. The Liberator published some of the most important writings about the abolitionist cause.

William Lloyd Garrison
Garrison was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, on December 10, 1805. In 1808, Garrison's father abandoned his family leaving them close to destitute. At age 13, after working at a number of jobs, Garrison became an apprentice to Ephraim Allen, editor of the Newbury-port Herald.
Garrison later moved to Boston where he became editor of the National Philanthropist in 1828. At that time, Garrison became acquainted with the prominent Quaker Benjamin Lundy, editor of the Baltimore-based antislavery newspaper, the Genius of Universal Emancipation. In 1829, Garrison became co-editor of Lundy's publication and began his vigorous advocacy for abolishing Slavery. Shortly thereafter, Garrison was sued by a merchant engaged in the slave trade. He was convicted of libel and spent seven weeks in prison, an experience that strengthened his conviction that all slaves should be set free.

After his release from jail in 1830, Garrison returned to Boston where he joined the American Colonization Society, an organization that promoted the idea that free blacks should emigrate to Africa. When it became clear that most members of the group did not support freeing slaves, but just wanted to reduce the number of free blacks in the United States, Garrison withdrew from membership.
The Liberator, which never had a paid circulation greater than three thousand became one of the most widely disseminated, consistent, and dominating voices of the Abolition movement.


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