William Lloyd Garrison (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: A crucial figure in the demise of American slavery and the coming of the Civil War, Garrison combined Protestant Evangelicalism, Jeffersonian liberalism, and Quaker humanism into a radical antislavery doctrine that called for the immediate end of the institution of slavery.
In his 1913 biography of William Lloyd Garrison, John Jay Chapman described his subject’s emergence as a radical abolitionist in 1830 as a streaking, white-hot meteorite crashing into the middle of Boston Commons. Little in Garrison’s background, however, foretold of his career as a professional reformer and as the father of the radical antislavery movement. His parents, Abijah and Frances (Fanny) Maria Lloyd Garrison, had once lived simply and obscurely in wealthy Newburyport, Massachusetts. By the summer of 1808, however, President Thomas Jefferson’s embargo had nearly destroyed New England’s merchant marine, inflicting immense suffering upon lower middle-class sailing masters such as Abijah. That same summer, the Garrisons’ five-year-old daughter died from an accidental poisoning. Abijah Garrison could not withstand the pressure and grief of this period. He took to heavy drinking and then deserted his struggling family of three. The childhood of young William Lloyd was then an even greater ordeal, and he often had to beg for food from the homes of Newburyport’s wealthy residents.
In 1815, Lloyd,...
(The entire section is 2855 words.)
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