"William Lloyd Garrison: the Agitator"

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Slavery has always been a controversial and debatable issue in the United States. No one attacked the African-American slavery of the southern states with greater vehemence than a group of young, radical abolitionists. Frustrated at the betrayal of the revolutionary promise that all forms of bondage would disappear in the new land and marshalling all the religious revivals that swept the country, abolitionists demanded no less than the immediate emancipation of all slaves. Bursting upon the American political system in the early 1830s, abolitionists not only opposed any reparation of slaveholders, but they also demanded full political rights for all African-Americans, North and South. The most prominent and spiteful of those abolitionists was William Lloyd Garrison. Born on December 10, 1805, he was the son of a drunken sailor who abandoned his family when Garrison was only three years old. His mother, a person of education and refinement plunged into bitter destitution during Garrison's childhood while she worked as a wage-slave and domestic servant. Garrison grew up in a poor Baptist household in Newbury port, Massachusetts, yet rose to national prominence as an advocate of the immediate abolition of slavery. At the age of nine, he worked for Deacon Bartlett in Newburyport, and later learned shoemaking at Lynn, cabinet making at Haverhill, and by 1818 received an apprenticeship with a printer and newspaper publisher. Soon after his apprenticeship ended, Garrison and a young printer, Isaac Knapp, purchased their own newspaper, the Newburyport Free Press. Although the newspaper existed for only six months, Garrison moved to Boston and found work as a printer and editor. Shortly after moving to Boston, he recei... ... middle of paper ... ... done it all." Frederick Douglass also affirmed Garrison's legacy when at a memorial service for Garrison he stated, "It was the glory of this man (Garrison) that I could stand alone with the truth, and calmly await the result." At twenty six years of age, Garrison had the courage to stand out against the majority of his countrymen and declare, "I am in earnest, I will not equivocate, I will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch, and I will be heard."37 These stirring words, perhaps his most profound and memorable ever, made Garrison the most important of the antebellum abolitionists, and certainly the most influential of the American anti-slavery advocates. For these reasons, Garrison was often referred to as "the Agitator" whose persistence, perseverance, and determination to eradicate slavery from the United States turned him into an American legacy.

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