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How are slaveholders depicted in Garrison's editorial, "To the Public?"

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meredithjones21 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 16, 2012 at 12:27 AM via web

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How are slaveholders depicted in Garrison's editorial, "To the Public?"

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 17, 2012 at 3:07 PM (Answer #1)

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Garrison's primary point is to bring out the passion and intensity that is intrinsic to his campaign for both the abolition of slavery and the enfranchisement of people of color in American life.  Garrison depicts the forces of slavery as ones that deny the basic essence of being in the world.  He shows slavery to be a reality that has to be both confronted and defeated.  His passion and intensity to this point are evident in the editorial:

 I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hand of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; -- but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.

For Garrison, slaveholders are part of the problem.  They are the embodiment of evil and injustice.  They are shown to be preventing the most basic acknowledgement of American legacy and government.  Garrison quotes The Declaration of Independence as part of this, making the slaveholder "unAmerican" to a great extent.  For Garrison, the slaveholder is the reason for his fight.  He categorizes them as the resistance to be overcome.  It is in this light where abolitionists like Garrison make clear how the individual sees slavery and those who profit from it, such as the slaveowner.

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