The Liberator, Vol. I., No. 1.
William Lloyd Garrison, January 1, 1831

Herein is probably the first call or use of “all religions” in the defense of a great cause.  The use of and a call to value the stated ideals of “all religions” to forward the anti-slavery movement should not be overlooked.  Though there are certain and irreconcilable differences among the great religions, they share many noble tenants with respect to rights and with respect to certain values, including the value of religion itself.

About 1828 Garrison met Benjamin Lundy, and the following year joined with him in editing the Genius for Universal Emancipation.  Garrison was jailed for libel, bailed out by the philanthropist Arthur Tappan and went to Boston where.  With Isaac Knapp, Garrison published the Liberator.  Garrison came eventually to be regarded as the leading abolitionist in the country.[1] 

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To the Public.

In the month of August, I issued proposals for publishing “The Liberator” in Washington City;  but the enterprise, though hailed indifferent sections of the country, was palsied by public indifference.  Since that time, the removal of the Genius of Universal Emancipation to the Seat of Government has rendered less imperious the establishment of a similar periodical in that quarter.

During my recent tour for the purpose of exciting the minds of the people by a series of discourses on the subject of slavery, every place that I visited gave fresh evidence of the fact, that a greater revolution in public sentiment was to be effected in the free states—and particularly in New England—than at the south.  I found contempt more bitter, opposition more active, detraction more relentless, prejudice more stubborn, and apathy more frozen, than among slave owners themselves.  Of course, there were individual exceptions to the contrary.  This state of things afflicted, but did not dishearten me.  I determined, at every hazard, to lift up the standard of emancipation in the eyes of the nation, within sight of Bunker Hill and in the birth place o f liberty.  That standard is now unfurled; and long may it float, unhurt by the spoliations of time or the missiles of a desperate foe—yea, till every chain be broken, and every bondman set free!  Let Southern oppressors tremble—let their secret abettors tremble—let their Northern apologists tremble—let all the enemies of the persecuted blacks tremble.

I deem the publication of my original Prospectus unnecessary, as it has obtained a wide circulation.  The principles therein inculcated will be steadily pursued in this paper, excepting that I shall not array myself as the political partisan of any man.  In defending the great cause of human rights, I wish to derive the assistance of all religions and of all parties [emphasis mine].

Assenting to the "self evident truth" maintained in the American Declaration of Independence, “that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights—among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” I shall strenuously contend for the immediate enfranchisement of our slave population.  In Park-Street Church, on the Fourth of July, 1829, in an address on slavery, I unreflectingly assented to the popular but pernicious doctrine of gradual abolition.  I seize this opportunity to make a full and unequivocal recantation, and thus publicly to ask pardon of my God, of my country, and of my brethren the poor slaves, for having uttered a sentiment so full of timidity, injustice and absurdity.  A similar recantation, from my pen, was published in the Genius of Universal Emancipation at Baltimore, in September, 1829.  My conscience is now satisfied.

I am aware, that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity?  I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice.  On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation.  No!  No!  Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm;  tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher;  tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen;--but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present.  I am in earnest—I will not equivocate—I will not excuse—I will not retreat a single inch—AND I WILL BE HEARD.  The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal, and to hasten the resurrection of the dead.

It is pretended, that I am retarding the cause of emancipation by the coarseness of my invective, and the precipitancy of my measures.  The charge is not true.  On this question my influence—humble as it is, is felt at this moment to a considerable extent, and shall be felt in coming years-not perniciously, but beneficially—not as a curse, but as a blessing; and posterity will bear testimony that I was right.  I desire to thank God, that he enables me to disregard “the fear of man which bringeth a snare,” and to speak his truth in its simplicity and power. . . .

William Lloyd Garrison.

[1] L. Swift & Garrison Children.  William Lloyd Garrison, 1805-1879:  the Story of his Life Told by his Children, Vol. I, p. 224 ff.  Bibliography in A. B. Hart, Slavery and Abolition.