Archive for the 'Individual Persons' Category

To John Greenleaf Whittier

Dec. 18, 1877

“When I  was in England, last summer, in all social circles that I touched, I did not fail to say that, of all the living poets of the world, I placed you at the head, especially in all that pertains to the freedom and elevation of the human race, and the highest spiritual afflatus in thought and expression. … You know me too well, my laurelled friend, to believe that I am using the language of flattery … ”   1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI

Warning against “conciliation”

June 5, 1874

Writing to Henry Wilson and other members of the Anti-Slavery Reunion Convention, indicating that he cannot be present, he reflects on the accomplishments of the movement, and includes these words of caution:  “… And now that liberty has been proclaimed to all the inhabitants in the land, let us beware of the siren call of ‘conciliation’ when it means humoring the old dragon spirit of slavery, and perpetuating caste distinctions by laws.  Cherishing nothing but good-will toward the South, and earnestly desiring the welfare and prosperity, we shall show ourselves to be her truest friends by refusing to compromise any of the principles of justice as pertaining to her colored population, and the gratification of a malignant prejudice based upon nothing but contempt of race…   1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI

On Sumner’s death, (and Fillmore’s)

March 18, 1874

“With but two exceptions in our national history — Washington and Lincoln — the death of no public man has been so universally deplored, or has elicited such tokens of public honor and appreciation, as that of Charles Sumner.  Never before has Boston presented such an impressive and august spectacle as at his obsequies, nor Massachusetts sounded through all her towns and villages such a knell of bereavement,  nor the country manifested such heartfelt expressions of grief over a common loss … By a striking coincidence, only five days before Mr. Sumner’s translation the signer of the Fugitive Slave Law, Millard Fillmore, was summoned to the bar of eternal justice.  For that most iniquitous deed he was held in abhorrence by the friends of freedom throughout the world…”   1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI

Woman’s suffrage and withholding taxes

Garrison writes to Abby Kelley Foster:  “Though you cannot doubt where I stand as to the position you have assumed — namely, not to pay any taxes so long as you are denied the right of suffrage — yet I wish to give a written assurance of the profound respect in which I hold your determination in this matter…”  11 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI

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

Woman suffrage

May 8,  1869

Writing to Lucy Stone, indicating that he cannot be present for the annual meeting in New York, of the Equal Rights Association, but he sends his testimony for suffrage.  “Woman presents her claim for suffrage. Why should not her claim be granted?  There are many reasons adduced, but they are all summed up in this one grave objection; because she is — a woman!  But as that related exclusively to sex, for which no one is responsible, which it is not possible or desirable to abolish, and in which inheres neither superiority nor inferiority in the matter of natural right … the objection lies as heavily against man wielding the ballot as against woman.  They were created equal, in the same divine image; they were designed for each other — to stand side by side in all the relations and liabilities of life… and neither can be elevated or depressed at the expense of the other…”  1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI

General Grant

Jan 1, 1869

“.. The confidence of the nation in the integrity, good sense, modesty, soundness of judgment, clear discrimination, executive ability, and peaceable and just administration of General Grant is quite unlimited… I feel sure there will be no weakness or vacillation on his part during his term of office.  He will be judicious in his choice of cabinet advisers, and in his presence political corruption and partizan self-seeking will stand abashed…”   1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI

Woman Suffrage

Dec. 21, 1868

Writing to Armenia White, relative to a suffrage convention to be held at Concord, N.H., he indicates he cannot be present to speak, as he has been invited to do.  The letter then becomes a way to send  a “substitute epistolary testimony”.   He cites and responds to three often-heard objections to woman’s suffrage.  His introduction to the objections says: “..though the objections are exceedingly shallow, it is still necessary to examine and refute them by arguments and illustrations none the less forcible because exhausted at an earlier period…. one drop of water is very like another, but it is the perpetual dropping that wears away the stone.”   1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI

Susan B. Anthony, and Democrats

 Jan. 4, 1868

Garrison writes to Anthony “with the highest regard for the Woman’s Rights movement”,  concerned with her alignment politically.  “It seems you are looking to the Democratic party, and not to the Republican, to give success politically to your movement! I should as soon think of looking to the Great Adversary to espouse the cause of righteousness.  The Democratic party is the ‘anti-nigger’ party, and composed of all  that is vile and brutal in the land, with very little that is decent  and commendable.  Everything that has been done, politically, for the cause of impartial freedom has been done by the Republican party.  And yet your reliance is upon the former rather than upon the latter party!  This is infatuation.   Your old and outspoken friend…”1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI