A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

William Lloyd Garrison and The Liberator

In 1831, William Lloyd Garrison began publication of The Liberator, the premier antislavery newspaper in Boston and the United States. While he played a central role in the antebellum abolitionist movement here, Garrison’s efforts were only part of a larger—sometimes uneasy—alliance of Black and white Bostonians in a crusade for freedom and equality that already was underway when The Liberator first appeared. Even in the “cradle of liberty,” abolitionists faced the hostility of fellow citizens who did not share their egalitarian ideals, or thought that antislavery agitation would lead to civil war.

The Liberator commenced January 1st 1831, Garrison antislavery banner
Cotton, paint, silk fringe, 1843
William Lloyd Garrison
Marble bust by Anne Whitney, 1878
William Lloyd Garrison
Imposing stone for The Liberator
Pine, iron, [circa 1840]
The Liberator (first issue)


Exhibition: 22 February - 24 May 2013

"'Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land': Boston Abolitionists, 1831-1865" displays many important manuscripts, photographs, and artifacts from the Society's collections that relate to the Abolitionist movement in Boston. Visitors can view such items as the imposing table for The Liberator, which has not been on display in the Society's building for many years. The exhibit is open Monday through Saturday, 10 AM to 4 PM.

Additional Online Resource

The Case for Ending Slavery features curricular resources and more than 50 primary sources from the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Library of Congress that reveal how slavery, and debates about slavery, contributed to the formation of the United States.

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