The Liberator, Vol. XV, No. 20
About the Project
The Liberator (1831-1865) was the most widely circulated anti-slavery newspaper during the antebellum period and throughout the Civil War. It was published and edited in Boston by William Lloyd Garrison, a leading white abolitionist and founder of the influential American Anti-Slavery Society. Over the three decades of its publication, The Liberator denounced all people and acts that would prolong slavery including the United States Constitution. Garrison’s condemnation of the Constitution was an incredibly controversial and eventually led to a split with Frederick Douglass. Once referred to as the most aggressive and outspoken abolitionist the world-over, Garrison was decades ahead of most other northern white abolitionists in demanding the immediate emancipation of all people held in bondage and the restoration of the natural rights of enslaved persons. Garrison’s nature attracted him followers, lovingly called “Garrisonians,” but also many more detractors. Throughout his tenure as editor of The Liberator, his vitriolic criticisms of all people and institutions he saw as responsible for slavery gained him many threats and attempts against his life, including a $5000 (now valued at over $150,000) bounty on his head in Georgia. Garrison’s abolitionism, as well as his support of women’s rights for equality, were driven by the moral imperative to ensure that all people would truly be equal.
The Liberator, whose readership was predominantly free blacks in the northern states, officially ended its run in 1865 when the Civil War ended. At the close of the paper’s run, Garrison declared, “my vocation as an abolitionist is ended.” He then turned his attention to women’s suffrage, pacifism, and condemning the post-Reconstruction actions of southern states against blacks. Help us to transcribe these issues of The Liberator and commemorate one of the major forces in the cause for abolition.