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William Lloyd Garrison, American Anti-Slavery Society (American National Biography)

Scholarship

James Brewer Stewart, "Garrison, William Lloyd," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/15/15-00256.html.

December 1833…leading northern abolitionists convened in Philadelphia to inaugurate the American Anti-Slavery Society. This organization was designed as a national body that would stimulate the creation of abolitionist societies across the North and win support for immediate emancipation. Its founding members, a profile of the larger crusade against slavery, included New York City religious evangelicals such as the Tappan brothers, Joshua Leavitt, and William Jay, Unitarian radicals such as Samuel Sewall and Samuel May, Quakers like John Greenleaf Whittier and Lucretia Mott, and free African Americans such as Robert Purvis and James McCrummell.

Garrison's contribution to the launching of this biracial, gender-inclusive organization was his authorship of the society's Declaration of Sentiments, which stressed nonviolence. While condemning the slaveholder as a "manstealer," the Declaration announced unshakable opposition to colonization, to all laws upholding slavery, and to all customs and attitudes that enforced racial prejudice…

To accomplish these formidable tasks, the Declaration also urged abolitionists to found newspapers and antislavery societies, launch petition campaigns, send speakers into the countryside, and challenge the moral sensibilities of slaveholders by appeals through the various religious denominations. Through this broad-based program of "moral suasion," as the abolitionists called it, the aim was peacefully to transform public opinion in favor of freeing the slaves and obliterating racial prejudice. While to most white Americans Garrison's Declaration reeked of fanaticism by proposing to transform three million slaves into equal citizens, to later generations it has come to represent a landmark of democratic aspiration.

How to Cite This Page: "William Lloyd Garrison, American Anti-Slavery Society (American National Biography)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/19385.