Garrison, William Lloyd

Life Span
Full name
William Lloyd Garrison
Place of Birth
Burial Place
Birth Date Certainty
Death Date Certainty
Sectional choice
Free State
No. of Spouses
No. of Children
Abijah Garrison (father), Frances "Fanny" Lloyd (mother), Helen Eliza Benson (wife, 1834), Wendell Phillips Garrison (son), Lucy McKim (daughter-in-law)
Relation to Slavery
White non-slaveholder
Church or Religious Denomination
Other Affiliations
Abolitionists (Anti-Slavery Society)
Women’s Rights

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

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.
James Brewer Stewart, "Garrison, William Lloyd," American National Biography Online, February 2000,

William Lloyd Garrison, "Garrisonianism" (American National Biography)

Throughout the 1840s and 1850s, as the political crisis over slavery's westward expansion deepened, Garrison's espousals of northern disunion, nonresistance, woman's rights, and anticlericalism satisfied his own prophetic purity but left him and his supporters largely removed from the political events that were leading to civil war. At the same time, the term "Garrisonianism" also came to embody the most dangerous tendencies in Yankee political culture, not only for slaveholders but for those who valued the Union above all else. On 4 July 1854, when Garrison burned a copy of the U.S. Constitution, his flamboyant gesture only confirmed a generalized fear of New England extremism that had become commonplace in antebellum political culture. Only after John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 did Garrison begin to retreat from his nonresistant positions, and only after Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860 did he begin to affirm that the Union deserved preserving in the face of southern moves toward secession.
James Brewer Stewart, "Garrison, William Lloyd," American National Biography Online, February 2000,
Date Title
New York Herald, "The Boston Fugitive Case," June 3, 1854
Abraham Lincoln's Speech at Springfield, Illinois, June 10, 1856
New York Times, “Convention of Radical Abolitionists,” February 17, 1857
New Orleans (LA) Picayune, “The New Nullification,” May 2, 1857
Washington (DC) National Era, “A Mistake,” August 13, 1857
Washington (DC) National Era, "The Union," October 15, 1857
Louisa F. Jones to William Still, May 15, 1858
Boston (MA) Liberator, "Anti-Slavery Celebration of Independence Day," June 25, 1858
Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, “New Orleans Delta on the Illinois Republican Convention,” July 5, 1858
New Orleans (LA) Picayune, "The Harper's Ferry Outbreak," October 22, 1859
Fayetteville (NC) Observer, "Good Out of Evil," October 27, 1859
Carlisle (PA) American Volunteer, "Tenderly Sensitive," November 3, 1859
New York Herald, “Seward Nominated for the Presidency by the Abolitionists,” December 25, 1859
Boston (MA) Herald, “A Conflict of the Races in Canada,” January 23, 1860
New York Herald, “Massachusetts Thoroughly Abolitionized,” September 7, 1860
New York Herald, “Helper and His Black Republican Endorsers,” October 28, 1860
New York Herald, “Free Love and Passional Attraction in the New Administration,” February 13, 1861
New York Herald, “Honor to Abolitionism Pure and Simple,” March 24, 1861
New York Times, “Slave Insurrections,” April 12, 1861
Richmond (VA) Dispatch, “New European Views of the South,” May 17, 1861
Chillicothe (OH) Scioto Gazette, “Disgraceful Fraud,” October 29, 1861
Reverend Henry Ward Beecher's remarks at the ceremony restoring the flag to Fort Sumter, South Carolina, April 14, 1865
How to Cite This Page: "Garrison, William Lloyd," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,