William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison bigraphy, stories - American journalist

William Lloyd Garrison : biography

December 13, 1805 – May 24, 1879

William Lloyd Garrison (December 10, 1805 – May 24, 1879) was a prominent American abolitionist, journalist, and social reformer. He is best known as the editor of the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator, and was 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.


Memorial to Garrison on the mall of [[Commonwealth Avenue, Boston]] To honor Garrison’s 200th birthday, in December 2005, his descendants gathered in Boston for the first family reunion in about a century. They discussed the legacy and impact of their most notable family member. Garrison is honored together with Maria Stewart a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church on December 17.

Early life and education

Garrison was born on December 12, 1805, in Newburyport, Massachusetts,Ehrlich, Eugene and Gorton Carruth. The Oxford Illustrated Literary Guide to the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982: 53. ISBN 0-19-503186-5 the son of immigrants from the British colony of New Brunswick, in present-day Canada. Under the Seaman’s Protection act, Abijah Garrison, a merchant sailing pilot and master, had obtained American papers and moved his family to Newburyport in 1806. With the impact of the Congressional Embargo Act of 1807 on commercial shipping, the elder Garrison became unemployed and deserted the family in 1808. Garrison’s mother, Frances Maria Lloyd, was reported to have been tall, charming and of a strong religious character. At her request, Garrison was known by his middle name, Lloyd. She died in 1823, in the town of Springfield, Massachusetts.

Garrison sold home-made lemonade and candy as a youth, and also delivered wood to help support the family. In 1818, at 13, Garrison began working as an apprentice compositor for the Newburyport Herald. He soon began writing articles, often under the pseudonym Aristides, taking the name of an Athenian statesman and general known as “the Just.” After his apprenticeship ended, he and a young printer named Isaac Knapp bought their own newspaper, the short lived Free Press. One of their regular contributors was poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier. In this early work as a small town newspaper writer, Garrison acquired skills he would later use as a nationally known writer, speaker and newspaper publisher. In 1828, he was appointed editor of the National Philanthropist in Boston, Massachusetts, the first American journal to promote legally-mandated temperance.

Later life and death

Garrison spent more time at home with his family, writing weekly letters to his children, and caring for his increasingly ill wife, who had suffered a small stroke on December 30, 1863, and was increasingly confined to the house. Helen died on January 25, 1876, after a severe cold worsened into pneumonia. A quiet funeral was held in the Garrison home, but Garrison, overcome with grief and confined to his bedroom with a fever and severe bronchitis, was unable to join the service downstairs. This was the first fatal blow to his health. Wendell Phillips gave a eulogy and many of Garrison’s old abolitionist friends joined him upstairs to offer their private condolences. Garrison recovered slowly from the loss of his wife, and began to attend Spiritualist circles in the hope of communicating with Helen.Mayer, 621 Garrison made a final visit to England in 1877, where he visited George Thompson and other old friends from the British abolitionist movement.Mayer, 622 Grave of William Lloyd Garrison Garrison, now ailing from kidney disease, continued to weaken during April 1879, and went to live with his daughter Fanny’s family in New York City. In late May his condition worsened, and his five surviving children rushed to join him. Fanny asked if he would enjoy singing some hymns, and although Garrison was unable to sing, his children sang his favorite hymns for him while he beat time with his hands and feet. On Saturday morning, Garrison lost consciousness, and died just before midnight on May 24, 1879.Mayer, 626 Garrison was buried in the Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood on May 28, 1879, after a public memorial service with eulogies by Theodore Dwight Weld and Wendell Phillips. Eight abolitionist friends, both white and black, served as his pallbearers. Flags were flown at half-staff all across Boston.Mayer, 627–628 Frederick Douglass, then employed as a United States Marshal, spoke in memory of Garrison at a memorial service in a church in Washington, D.C., saying "It was the glory of this man that he could stand alone with the truth, and calmly await the result."Mayer, 631