Archive for the 'Violence & Non-Violence' Category

Anti-Garrison effigy

July 5, 1836

Garrison tells of his effigy erected in Fall River.  “… some unknown but patriotic artist, (rejoicing in his liberty,) with considerable labor, but not much skill, made an effigy of straw, and suspended it upon a post in Main Street, to which was fastened a label containing these condemnatory words — ‘Garrison, the abolitionist;  fit subject for the gallows.’  The man of straw proved better than a town crier to urge all good citizens to attend our meeting in the afternoon.. He brought many to hear and see, who else might have remained at home.  I am much obliged to him, for he enabled me to put up the celestial goddess of Liberty in his stead, in the presence of the people. ”  1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI

Back in Boston after the Mob

Nov 7, 1835

Garrison writes to Helen, who is safely with her family in Connecticut, but he has returned to Boston. He tells of being in the Anti-Slavery office, when a “procession marched by the office, with a band of music in full blast, and followed by a squad of spectators; and what do you think they had with them?  It was a large board, on which were drawn two figures, quite conspicuously — George Thompson and a black woman.  Over the head of Thompson were the words, ‘The Foreign Emissary’ –and the black woman asking him, ‘When are we going to have another meeting, brother Thompson?’  It is fortunate, perhaps, that this company did not know that I was then in the Anti-Slavery office  — else they might have excited another uproar  … city authorities made not the slightest attempt to interfere …. Mr. Thompson will probably sail for England in the course of a fortnight — but this must be kept private…”  1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI

Anti-Abolition violence, and Angelina Grimke

Sept 12, 1835

In a letter to George W. Benson, Garrison summarizes some recent evidence of hatred against abolitionists.  He mentions that Benson himself has been put in a Providence jail “for safe keeping from your enemies”.  George Thompson is in Pittsburgh, fearful to come back to Boston.  A meeting in Haverhill was broken up by a “shower of brickbats”.  Thompson and Whittier have been pelted with mud and stones, in Concord.  “That some of us will be assassinated or abducted, seems more than probable — but there is much apparent, without any real danger.”  Garrison then quotes a note which has come to him from Angelina Grimke:  “with a spirit worthy of the best days of martyrdom, she says — ‘A hope gleams across my mind, that our blood will be spilt, instead of the slaveholders:  our lives will be taken, and theirs spared.’  Is this not Christ-like?”   1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI

Anti-Abolition threats

Sept 4, 1835

Writing to George W. Benson, Garrison comments on current threats to abolitionists. “…those religious persons and papers that denounce our brother George Thompson as a foreigner, are virtually rebuking every foreign missionary who has been sent from our shores to evangelize a rebellious world, and they will find, ere long, that infidelity will meet and vanquish them with their own weapons. … I am not prepared fully to decide as to the expediency of calling a National Convention, but am rather inclined to think it inexpedient. Before the feverish excitement that now reigns in the public mind will have subsided, winter will be upon us. … Perhaps we better work quietly, but industriously, until spring — but I am not sure.   1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI

Right to use Violence

Sept 8, 1831

Here Garrison asserts a view established at the beginning of his witness.  “I do not justify the slaves in their rebellion: yet I do not condemn them, and applaud similar conduct in white men.  I deny the right of any people to fight for liberty, and so far am a Quaker in principle.  Of all men living, however, our slaves have the best reason to assert their rights by violent measures, inasmuch as they are more oppressed than others.”1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI