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William Lloyd Garrison was an American journalistic crusader who helped lead the successful abolitionist campaign against slavery in the United States.
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It became clear to Garrison that this strategy only server to further support the mechanism of slavery.
In 1830 Garrison broke away from the American Colonization Society and started his own abolitionist paper, calling it The Liberator. As published in its first issue, The Liberator’s motto read,
"Our country is the world—our countrymen are mankind." The Liberator was responsible for initially building Garrison’s reputation as an abolitionist.
Garrison soon realized that the abolitionist movement needed to be better organized. In 1832 he helped form the New England Antislavery Society. After taking a short trip to England in 1833, Garrison founded the American Antislavery Society, a national organization dedication to achieving abolition. However, Garrison’s unwillingness to take political action (rather than simply write or speak about the cause of abolition) caused many of his fellow abolitionist supporters to gradually desert the pacifist. Inadvertently, Garrison had created a fracture among members of the American Antislavery Society. By 1840, defectors formed their own rival organization, called the American Foreign and Antislavery Society.
In 1841, an even greater schism existed among members of the abolitionist movement. While many abolitionists were pro-Union, Garrison, who viewed the Constitution as pro-slavery, believed that the Union should be dissolved. He argued that Free states and slave states should in fact be made separate. Garrison was vehemently against the annexation of Texas and strongly objected to the Mexican American War. In August of 1847, Garrison and former slave Frederick Douglas made a series of 40 anti-Union speeches in the Alleghenies.
1854 proved a pivotal year in the Abolition Movement. The Kansas-Nebraska Act established the Kansas and Nebraska territories and repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had regulated the extension of slavery for the prior 30 years. Settlers in those areas where allowed to choose through Popular Sovereignty whether or not they would allow slavery there. The plan, which Garrison considered "a hollow bargain for the North," backfired when slavery supporters and abolitionists alike rushed Kansas so they could vote on the fate of slavery there. Hostilities led to government corruption and violence. The events of the 1857 Dred Scott Decision further increased tensions among pro and anti-slavery advocates, as it established that Congress was powerless to ban slavery in the federal territories. Not only were blacks not protected by the Constitution, but according to it, they could never become U.S. citizens.
In 1861, as the American Civil War broke out, Garrison continued to criticize the U.S. Constitution in The Liberator, a process of resistance that Garrison had now practiced for nearly 20 years. Understandably, some found it surprising when the pacifist also used his journalism to support Abraham Lincoln and his war policies, even prior to the Emancipation Proclamation in September of 1862.
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