Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass The Liberator

The Liberator was an abolitionist newspaper founded in Boston by William Lloyd Garrison in 183. Garrison published the four-page newspaper out of Boston for 35 years, never missing an issue. Circulation hovered around 3000 after the first few shaky years, with about three quarters of the subscribers being African Americans. In the first issue Garrison unambiguously stated his passion regarding the need to abolish slavery in a letter to the public: "I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderatin...I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD." He called for complete and immediate emancipation for all slaves in the United States.

Garrison wrote several significant articles on major landmarks in the crusade against slavery. These articles included: "The Insurrection" on September 3rd, 1831, on Nat Turner's rebellion; "Abolition at the Ballot Box" on June 28th, 1839; "The Tragedy at Harper's Ferry" on October 28th, 1859; "John Brown and the Principle of Nonresistance" on December 2nd, 1859; and "The War: Its Cause and Cure" on May 3rd, 1861. He also wrote on larger themes of justice, the Constitution, and the Union.

The Liberator contained advertisements for runaway slaves and articles that tried to depict the realities of slavery. The paper ran antislavery sermons and speeches, travel literature, fiction, political stories, letters, and debates on current reform issues, including temperance and women's suffrage. Each issue included poetry, some of which was by William Cullen Bryant, John Greenleaf Whittier, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Authors as diverse as Lydia Maria Child, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Victor Hugo, Edgar Allen Poe, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Louisa May Alcott saw their work published in the paper. The letters formed the largest section; they included notices from slaves announcing their arrival in Canada via the Underground Railroad. In 1845, Garrison wrote the preface to Frederick Douglass' Narrative. The men had been friends and allies for four years.

Garrison was unequivocal in his views on slavery; he forcefully advocated for its abolishment in both the newspaper and his speeches and became known as a radical and a zealot. He garnered much interest as well as criticism, and soon became well-known throughout several States. His views were unpopular even with many in the North, especially in regards to the thorny question about where the freed slaves would live and work once they were emancipated. Garrison fully believed in their ability to assimilate, writing that they were entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness just like all other Americans. Garrison often used the paper to respond to his enemies. When the Nat Turner rebellion broke out, Garrison was accused of helping to incite the rebellion and a price was put on his head.

Garrison's paper faced some legal issues. He was sued by North Carolina for felonious acts, and the Vigilance Association of Columbia, South Carolina, offered a $1500 reward for those who could provide information about the distribution of the paper.

The last issue was published in 1866 to celebrate the end of the Civil War and the passage of the 13th amendment, which forever abolished slavery.