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The liberator. [volume] : (Boston, Mass.) 1831-1865
Alternative Titles:
  • Journal of the times
Place of publication:
Boston, Mass.
Geographic coverage:
  • Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
William Lloyd Garrison and Isaac Knapp
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (Jan. 1, 1831)-v. 35, no. 52 (Dec. 29, 1865).
  • English
  • Antislavery movements--United States--Newspapers.
  • Antislavery movements.--fast--(OCoLC)fst00810800
  • Boston (Mass.)--Newspapers.
  • Massachusetts--Boston.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01205012
  • Massachusetts--Suffolk County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01206189
  • Suffolk County (Mass.)--Newspapers.
  • United States.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01204155
  • "No union with slaveholders."
  • "Our Country is the World - Our Countrymen are Mankind."
  • "Published at the Anti-Slavery Office, Robert F. Wallcut, General Agent" <1860>
  • Available on microfilm from UMI as part of the American Periodical Series, 1800-1850, the New York Public Library-3M, and the Library of Congress, Photoduplication Service; also available online.
  • Issue for <Dec. 29, 1865> called also <whole no. 1803>.
  • J. Brown Yerrington, Printer <1845->
sn 84031524
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The liberator. [volume] January 1, 1831 , Image 1


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The Liberator

The Liberator was a radical abolitionist newspaper published from 1831-65 in Boston, Massachusetts. A weekly four-page paper, it was the most influential abolitionist publication in the United States during the nineteenth century. At its peak, the Liberator was circulating 3,000 copies a week, primarily across the free North. It was funded and read largely by the free Black population in the North.

The paper was published and edited by radical abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) and was affiliated with the interracial organization the New England Anti-Slavery Society, which Garrison founded in 1832. Garrison believed in immediate abolition of slavery and integration of previously enslaved people into American society, an extremist position even among other abolitionists at the time.

The Liberator was organized as a forum for political debate and public discussion on slavery and abolition. The paper included letters from anti-abolitionists, "agents" (touring abolitionists), free Black people, and women. Along with letters, the paper published fiction, sermons, poetry, as well as articles on the inhumanity of slavery in the South and recent politics.

In some Southern states, having a copy of the Liberator in one's possession was a crime. Garrison received death threats and attacks regularly; at one point, he was indicted in North Carolina for distributing antislavery material, and the Georgia Legislature offered a significant reward for his capture. These incidents did not deter Garrison from writing impassioned pieces for "the secession of the North from the South--to break the immoral Constitutional connection with slavery."

Along with abolition, Garrison was a firm supporter of women's rights. He advocated for their participation in the Liberator and in politics, which was divisive within the abolition movement. Garrison printed writings from Lydia Maria Child, Felicia Hemans, Louisa May Alcott, Maria Stewart, Angelina Grimké, Catharine Beecher, and other women writers.

Garrison also had a close relationship with Frederick Douglass and printed many of Douglass's writings in the Liberator. In 1845, he also published Douglass's first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and wrote the preface. Unfortunately, their relationship soured two years later when their political views diverged.

Over thirty years, the Liberator covered several major historical events, including Nat Turner's Rebellion in August 1831 and John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry in October 1859. Despite Garrison's pacifist beliefs, the Liberator covered the Civil War extensively from 1861-1864, including printing letters from Black Union soldiers. It is not a coincidence that the paper ceased publication in December 1865 after the 13th Amendment was ratified. Slavery had been abolished from the United States, and Garrison felt that the Liberator's mission had been accomplished.

Provided by: Boston Public Library