The Making of an Abolitionist

William Lloyd Garrison’s Path to Publishing The Liberator

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About the Book

William Lloyd Garrison’s life as an abolitionist and advocate for social change was dependent on his training as a printer. None who have studied Garrison can ignore his editorship of The Liberator but many have not fully understood his belief in the central role of a well-edited newspaper in the maintenance of a healthy republic and the struggle to reform society. Church, politics and publishing were the three foundations of Garrison’s life. Newspapers, he believed, were especially important, for they provided citizens in a democracy the information necessary to make their own choices. When ministers and politicians in the North and the South refused to address the horror of slavery and became tacit advocates for the “peculiar institution,” he was compelled to employ the printing press in protest.
This book traces his path from printer to publisher of The Liberator. Garrison had not become a publisher to advocate abolition; he was a mechanic and an editor, later a reformer, but always a printer. His expertise with the printing press and the practice of journalism became for him the natural means for ending slavery.

About the Author(s)

Denis Brennan is a professor of American history and a lecturer at Union College in Schenectady, New York.

Bibliographic Details

Denis Brennan
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 224
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7425-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1535-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments vii

Preface 1

One: The Printer’s Stand 7

Two: The “mere boy” 28

Three: Political Machinations 53

Four: Religious Apathy 83

Five: A Change of Heart 104

Six: On Trial in Baltimore 129

Seven: “And I will be heard” 153

Eight: “The press is able to cope” 174

Chapter Notes 181

Bibliography 199

Index 207

Book Reviews & Awards

“A work of exceptionally impressive historical research and scholarship…very highly recommended”—Midwest Book Review.