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  • Cory Edmund Endrulat

A Tribute To An UNTAUGHT Historic Figure ~ William Lloyd Garrison

If there is any man who set history straight, it was one so dedicated, that he was willing to risk his entire life, and go to war with every institution and neighbor, despite how we might see him as an extremely loving and passionate hero today. He was known as one of the main abolitionists in the 19th century against the cruel and overt practice of chattel slavery, but he is also known for being “radical” in calling for it’s immediate end, while challenging those institutions which support slavery, being the government or religions of the time. Refusing political action, and often refusing any acts of violence, he took on the daunting task of helping his fellow man see the obvious immorality of slavery.

Publishing a newspaper for 35 years, never missing a single week, writing it by hand, going broke several times, going to jail for his beliefs, nothing stopped him from sharing the truth. When he met with influential figures, he did not thwart from principle; when he was invited to a Freemason gathering, he did not thwart from principle, he was willing to defy anyone openly to the end that his authority is truth alone, but that man-made authority cannot take the place of truth. The truth was what he called the “law of love” or “the government of god” which man owes true allegiance toward. His newspaper being so influential and persistent, being called “The Liberator,” is why we continue his efforts and his mission with “The Liberator 2.” Little did he know, he would inspire the works of great author Leo Tolstoy, the movements of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., and all the voluntaryists and philosophical anarchists of the inevitable future. He encapsulated what it meant to stand for your conscience, to stand for a higher authority, to stand up for your beliefs, and to do so peacefully yet powerfully. His words will show us the evils we still have yet to address. Let his powerful words speak for themself:

“We commence a new decade with the same confidence in the principles we espouse, the same assurance of success in the cause we advocate, that we felt at the commencement of our labors, only greatly strengthened by the experience gained, and the progress made toward the goal of final victory. It has been a long, desperate, and (humanly speaking) most unequal struggle with the organized religious sentiment, the political power, the combined wealth, the recognized respectability, the popular feeling, the business selfishness, the satanic malignity, and the universal brutality and ruffianism of the country; but, from the hour the bugle of freedom first sounded its notes in favor of immediate and universal emancipation, the movement has advanced with slow but irresistible power, under Divine guidance, confounding the wisdom of the wise, contemning the might of the strong, taking the cunning in their own craftiness, unmasking the hypocritical, swallowing up all the rods of the magicians, breaking sects and parties into fragments, vanquishing all opponents, its poverty more than a match for all the wealth of the land, its spirit sublime and unconquerable, its truths self-evident, and its results glorious in the annals of historic achievement; and still,  ‘Against the wind, against the tide, It steadies with upright keel’ outstripping all competition, and with the haven of righteousness and peace full in view.”

“There is much declamation about the sacredness of the compact which was formed between the free and slave states on the adoption of the Constitution. A sacred compact, forsooth! We pronounce it the most bloody and heaven-daring arrangement ever made by men for the continuance and protection of a system of the most atrocious villany ever exhibited on earth. Yes – we recognize the compact, but with feelings of shame and indignation; and it will be held in everlasting infamy by the friends of justice and humanity throughout the world. It was compact formed at the sacrifice of the bodies and souls of millions of our race, for the sake of achieving a political object — an unblushing and monstrous coalition to do evil that good might come. Such a compact was, in the nature of things and according to the law of God, null and void from the beginning. No body of men ever had the right to guarantee the holding of human beings in bondage. Who or what were the framers of our government, that they should dare confirm and authorize such high-handed villany – such a flagrant violation of all the precepts and injunctions of the gospel — such a savage war upon a sixth of our whole population? —They were men, like ourselves – as fallible, as sinful, as weak, as ourselves. By the infamous bargain which they made between themselves, they virtually dethroned the Most High God, and trampled beneath their feet their own solemn and heaven-attested Declaration, that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights – among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They had no awful power to bind themselves, or their posterity, for one hour – for one moment – by such an unholy alliance. It was not valid then – it is not valid now.”

“No man shall ruler over me without my consent. I will rule over no man” “We purpose, in a moral and spiritual sense, to assail iniquity in high places and in low places, to apply our principles to all existing evil, political, legal, and ecclesiastical institutions, and to hasten the time when the kingdoms of this world will have become the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“The Abolitionism which I advocate is as absolute as the law of God, and as unyielding as His throne. It admits of no compromise. Every slave is a stolen man; every slaveholder is a man stealer. By no precedent, no example, no law, no compact, no purchase, no bequest, no inheritance, no combination of circumstances, is slave holding right or justifiable.” “’That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ Hence, I am an Abolitionist. Hence, I cannot but regard oppression in every form—and most of all, that which turns a man into a thing—with indignation and abhorrence. Not to cherish these feelings would be recreancy to principle. They who desire me to be dumb on the subject of Slavery, unless I will open my mouth in its defence, ask me to give the lie to my professions, to degrade my manhood, and to stain my soul. I will not be a liar, a poltroon, or a hypocrite, to accommodate any party, to gratify any sect, to escape any odium or peril, to save any interest, to preserve any institution, or to promote any object.” “Act as free moral agents, not as tools of party.” “We have appealed to Christians, philanthropists, and patriots, for their assistance to accomplish the great work of national redemption through the agency of moral power—of public opinion—of individual duty. How have we been received? We have been threatened, proscribed, vilified, and imprisoned—a laughing-stock and a reproach. Do we falter, in view of these things? Let time answer. If we have been hitherto urgent, and bold, and denunciatory in our efforts,—hereafter we shall grow vehement and active with the increase of danger.” “Liberty for each, for all, forever! Man above all institutions!”

“As every human government is upheld by physical strength, and its laws are enforced virtually at the point of the bayonet, we cannot hold any office which imposes upon its incumbent the obligation to compel men to do right, on pain of imprisonment or death. We therefore voluntarily exclude ourselves from every legislative and judicial body, and repudiate all human politics, worldly honors, and stations of authority.”

“We do not acknowledge allegiance to any human government.” “We are bound by the laws of a kingdom which is not of this world; the subjects of which are forbidden to fight; in which Mercy and Truth are met together, and Righteousness and Peace have kissed each other; which has no state lines, no national partitions, no geographical boundaries; in which there is no distinction of rank, or division of caste, or inequality of sex; the officers of which are Peace, its exactors Righteousness, its walls Salvation, and its gates Praise; and which is destined to break in pieces and consume all other kingdoms. Our country is the world, our countrymen are all mankind. We love the land of our nativity only as we love all other lands. The interests, rights, liberties of American citizens are no more dear to us than are those of the whole human race. Hence, we can allow no appeal to patriotism, to revenge any national insult or injury.” “Our mission is, to regenerate public opinion. We are not concerned for the loaves and fishes of office, we are not seeking the elevation of any particular man, nor the success of any particular party.”

“Whether permitted to live to witness the abolition of slavery or not, I felt assured that, as I demanded nothing that was not clearly in accordance with justice and humanity, some time or other, if remembered at all, I should stand vindicated in the eyes of my countrymen.”

“I go for free trade and free inter-communication the world over, and deny the right of any body of men to erect geographical or national barriers in opposition to these natural, essential and sacred rights. Every government must be regarded as a tyranny, and unworthy of approbation, that erects or maintains such barriers.”

Garrison, providing us with a framework of action, in addition to the underground railroad of towns, tells us what we can do just as he did it, being willing to network with anyone from anywhere:

“To concentrate the moral energies of the nation. Auxiliaries must be formed in every State; every town and village must have an Association.”

(Letter from 1838) “The American Anti-Slavery Society had in the past year receipts totaling forty-three thousand dollars, but expenditures of more than forty-five thousand, ‘leaving the Society somewhat in debt.’ Total number of publications, printed during the same time, came to 646,000! Thirty-eight traveling agents had been in the field.”

It has been noted that Garrison printed a total of 1,820 weekly issues from 1831 to 1865, and that is just The Liberator newspaper alone.

“It is time for the friends of bleeding humanity to make a demonstration of their strength. It is idle for them to sigh over the degradation and misery of the slaves, while they neglect to coalesce. To effect this union, agents are indispensable... it is much easier to convince a hundred men in a large audience, than half a dozen by detail. In this manner I may be able to disarm whole communities of their antipathies, and rally them around the standard which has been lifted up in Boston.”

In summary, as TheLiberatorFiles website states:

“At the occasion when John Stuart Mill and John Bright called Garrison the preeminent agitator of the century, it was said of Garrison … ‘he emancipated not only slaves, but the American mind. The whole intellect of the country has been set thinking about the fundamental question about society and government’”

Hannah Webb, a fellow 19th century Abolitionist, tells us that:

“Garrison was working for a world in which there would be no slavery, no king, no beggars, no lawyers, no doctors, no soldiers, no palaces, no prisons, no creeds, no sects, no weary and grinding labor, no luxurious idleness, no particular Sabbath or temple... no restraint but moral restraint, no containing power but love. Shall we judge such a man because he may go a little further than we are prepared to follow? Let us first consult our consciences and our testaments.


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