Archive for the 'Garrison Persona' Category

Regarding Grant,Greeley, and Sumner

Aug. 3, 1872

Writing to Charles Sumner:  “Though I should be strongly induced, by the friendship subsisting between us, to avoid taking a position antagonistical to your own, under ordinary circumstances, even if I deemed it erroneous, yet all personal considerations, must be subordinated to the public welfare when seriously imperiled. … you have spoken plainly … in utter condemnation of the President of the United States; and your advice to the whole body of colored voters is, that they concentrate their suffrages upon a rival candidate in the person of Horace Greeley … I propose to speak with equal plainness,  and as earnestly, to counsel my colored countrymen not to follow your lead in this matter, but, as voters, to move unitedly for the re-election of President Grant …”  1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI

Regarding Horace Greeley

Jan. 24, 1872

Writing to a friend, he comments on Greeley:  “Greeley never was in harmony with us, but in his Tribune often treated us very shabbily, and to this day has not outgrown his contempt for our movement.  In fact, inflexible adherence to a moral principle has always been with him pitiable fanaticism, and compromise between God and the Adversary has constituted the sum and substance of his moral and political philosophy.   He is unable to comprehend the moral power and grandeur of the Anti-Slavery struggle, as inaugurated and carried on by the old abolitionists, as a blind man is to perceive colors, or a deaf man to enjoy Handel’s Messiah…”  1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI

Testimonial by colored citizens of Boston, & Cooper Nell

Writing to Cooper Nell, he indicates that he will attend a testimonial in the coming days.  “I shall be happy to see the delegation of my colored friends on Friday evening next, as designated in your letter just received.  Primarily I have no doubt that I am indebted to your strong friendship and warm appreciation of my anti-slavery labors for the presentation that will be made on that occasion. It will be all the more valued on that account; though I shall feel none the less obliged to every one contributing to the testimonial.”     11 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI

To Wendell Phillips

Jan. 1, 1866

Thanking Phillips for the help he has given to his Garrison namesake, “covering his entire collegiate course”, then he comments on their disagreements.  “Though, my dear P., you and I have differed somewhat in our judgment of the bearing of events and the action of public men upon that cause which has been equally dear to our hearts, yet it is my comfort and solace to know that in our principles, our desires, and our claims for equal and exact justice to the colored race as to the white, we blend together as fully now as ever. May our friendship be as perpetual as sun, moon and stars, but without their occasional obscurantism!”    1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI

Poking Fun at Theodore Parker

May 26, 1858

“Dear Mr. Parker:  I was so interrupted by company to a late hour last night, that I have found it impossible to look over your manuscript, though I tried to do  my best.  You say it is written so plain that he who runs may read it –‘if he can’.  I can say, on an examination of it, that its chirography is such as to furnish a very strong inducement for any man to run who attempts to read it! ..”    1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI

Violence toward Douglass

Aug. 9, 1847

Garrison writes to Helen, from Harrisburg, where he and Douglass spoke at the Court House.  “I first addressed the meeting, and was listened to, not only without molestation, but with marked attention and respect … as Douglass rose to speak, the spirit of rowdyism began to show itself outside of the building, around the door and windows.  It was the first time that a ‘nigger’ had attempted to address the people in Harrisburg in public, and it was regarded by the mob as an act of unparalleled audacity.  They knew nothing at all of Douglass, except that he was a nigger.  They came equipped with rotten eggs and brickbats, fire-crackers and other missiles, and made use of them somewhat freely — breaking panes of glass, and soiling the clothes of some who were struck by the eggs. …I was enabled to obtain a silent hearing for a few moments, when I told the meeting that if this was a specimen of Harrisburg decorum and love of liberty, instead of wasting our breath upon the place, we should turn our back upon it, shaking off the dust of our feet — &c. &c    1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI

Personal style of speaking

Sept. 17, 1846

Garrison writes to Helen, in part describing a meeting in Exeter Hall, London, where he, Thompson, and Douglass spoke.  Generally applauded, his speech was “frequently interrupted by a certain portion of the audience, in a rowdyish manner, something after the pattern we occasionally exhibit in Boston and elsewhere.”  Further, he comments: “My manner of expressing my thoughts and feelings is somewhat novel, and not always palatable, in this country, on account of its plainness and directness; but it will do more good, in the end, than a smoother mode.  At least, I think so, and will ‘bide my time’.  I am led to be more plain-spoken, because almost every one here deals in circumlocution, and to offend nobody seems to be the aim of the speaker.  If I chose, I could be as smooth and politic as any other, but I do not so choose, and much prefer nature to art.”   1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI

Writing to Daniel O’Connell

Dec. 8, 1843

Here Garrison recalls his good experiences with O’Connell, and the importance of O’Connell  being clear as an abolitionist.  “But I have regretted to perceive in you, within a few months past, for reasons which, to me, are perfectly inexplicable, a disposition to travel widely and frequently out of your path, to attack me personally in the most contemptuous manner… You have seized the most extraordinary occasions to hold me up to derision and odiuim in Ireland — by stigmatizing me, while denouncing American slavery, as a ‘maniac in religion’, and referring to me as ‘a man called Lloyd Garrison,’ whose company as an abolitionist you rejected, and also that of all his anti-slavery associates!..”    He asks why O’Connell has “attempted to stain my religious character, and to cripple my labors in the abolition of slavery, by pointing a finger of reproach at me as a heretic? … Surely, I do not err,  when I hazard the assertion, that you have not been self-moved in this matter!”  Garrison goes on to claim that if he had spoken against the cause of Irish Repeal, then, criticism of him would have been justified, or if he had abandoned the anti-slavery cause, such rejection by O’Connell would “have been to the point”…”I think you have erred in attacking me as you have done in so gratuitous and offensive a manner.  Am I not right in this view of the case? … Hoping you will mightily foil all the machinations of your wily enemies, and be triumphant in your peaceful efforts for Repeal, and wishing a long life for yourself, and freedom and prosperity for oppressed and suffering Ireland, I remain, Yours, in every conflict for the right.”  1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI

Northampton meeting, again

July 14, 1843

This longer account of the rejection at Northampton, to the Liberator, tells of a speaker who rose at the meeting, critical of Garrison.  He claims that Garrison cannot tell how to abolish slavery. The speaker abhorred slavery too, but it was supported by the Constitution, and could not be ended until the Constitution was amended.  Since Garrison was opposed to political action,  Garrison was unable to say how slavery should be abolished!  Garrison, in response, claims to have answered the criticism to the satisfaction of most in the audience.   The article then includes comments on the Northampton papers. “There are three newspapers here — two whig, and one democratic.  The Courier and Gazette (both whig) took no notice of the meeting — whether from motives of policy,or in the spirit of contempt, I do not know… their silence in regard to a meeting held under such peculiar circumstances, in so public a manner, and with such a noble object in view, is certainly not creditable to their humanity or courtesy… In the Democrat appeared an editorial sketch of the meeting, which was chiefly confined to a personal attack upon myself, and to a broad caricature of what was said of the lowest black-guardism… ”  1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI

Anti-Abolition, Northampton, MA

July 6, 1843

 Here is an account, written to Edmund Quincy, of an attempt to hold a fourth of July meeting in the Town Hall, “in defence of our enslaved countrymen”.  The Town Hall was closed to the meeting, and the meeting was held opposite the Hall, “under the protecting shadows of two umbrageous trees”.   “So much for our first reception in Northampton.” A much longer account is in the July 14 letter sent to the Liberator.   1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI