Launching the Liberator

The first issue of Garrison's Liberator

This week marks the inaugural release of The Liberator, a hugely influential abolitionist newspaper published by William Lloyd Garrison. In January of 1831, Garrison, a devoted Christian and Boston based anti-slavery advocate, placed himself at the forefront of the American abolitionist movement with The Liberator's publication. The paper's initial funding was supported by the free black population of New England and, at first, the circulation was low. However, soon after The Liberator's release, a bloody slave uprising in Virginia known to history as the Nat Turner Rebellion, drew national headlines and cast a spotlight on the slavery issue - The Liberator was soon growing by leaps and bounds. Garrison would continue the publication for over three decades, refusing to rest until the institution of slavery was dead. The passage of the 13th Amendment ultimately abolished the practice at the close of the Civil War

The issue of slavery was incredibly divisive and controversial in Garrison's day and the publication put Garrison himself at tremendous risk, both in terms of his professional standing and physical security. He would not be dissuaded. Armed with the singleminded ferocity that comes with extreme moral clarity, Garrison was singularly effective and unswerving in his cause. Emphatically setting the tone for all future issues, Garrison's paper began with these words,

On this subject, I do not wish to think, or 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 hand 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. ...
— William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison, American hero.