William Lloyd Garrison

"Wherever there is a human being, I see God-given rights inherent in that being, whatever may be the sex or complexion." - William Lloyd Garrison, famous abolitionist and women's rights activist

The Famous Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison: A Brief Synopsis

William Lloyd Garrison was a famous abolitionist, renowned for his efforts to end slavery and provide women with rights equal to that of their husbands, fathers, and brothers. His paper, The Liberator was in print for over thirty years and was one of the most successful of it's kind, promoting the abolitionist and former escaped slave Frederick Douglass, southern abolitionist Angelina Grimke, and others.

The Famous Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison: Date of Birth and Parents

William Lloyd Garrison was the fourth of five children born to Frances Lloyd and Abijah Garrison; a sea captain. However, in 1808, his five year old sister died, his baby sister Elizabeth was born, and his father left his family to fend for themselves.

Abolitionist and publisher of The Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison
William Lloyd Garrison, the famous abolitionist and suffragist (public domain)

The Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison: Upbringing and Trade

Left in the care of Deacon Ezekiel Bartlett whilst his mother worked as a nurse; William Lloyd Garrison would try to make money for his impoverished family by selling homemade sweets and lemonade as a child. He received little formal education and apprenticed for a shoemaker and a cabinet maker until 1818; he was then an apprentice for the editor of the Newburyport Herald until 1825. By 1823, William Lloyd Garrison's mother had died and his sister had died the year previous.

The Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison: The Birth of 'The Liberator'

William Lloyd Garrison purchased his first paper, the Free Press in 1826, but it did not gain much success. Affiliated with Quakers, he became an abolitionist and  published the first issue of his famous newspaper, The Liberator, in 1831. The South believed that William Lloyd Garrison's paper incited slave rebellion; Nat Turner's murderous rampage, though not at all condoned in The Liberator, was carried out seven months after the first issue was distributed. Aimed at the American abolitionist, The Liberator was popular in the North and even reached English speaking countries abroad, as well as the hands of Abraham Lincoln. The American Anti-Slavery Society was formed in 1833 by abolitionists from numerous states, and William Lloyd Garrison's appeal for women to take note was not in vain; the Female Anti-Slavery Society raised funds to assist with circulation of The Liberator.


Name: William Lloyd Garrison
Birth: 12 December 1805
Death: 24 May 1879
Cause: Kidney disease
Famed for: Founder of abolitionist paper The Liberator and figurehead of abolition and suffrage in the North
Parents: Abijah Garrison B1773 and Frances Maria Lloyd B1776-D1823 M1798
Siblings: Mary Ann Garrison, James Garrison B1801 Caroline Eliza Garrison B1803-D1808, Elizabeth Knowlton Garrison B1808-D1822
Spouse: Helen Benson (1811-1876) M1834
Children: George Garrison 1836-1904, William Garrison 1838-1909, Wendell Garrison 1840-1907, Charles Garrison 1842-1849, Helen Garrison 1844-1928, Elizabeth Garrson 1846-1848, Francis Garrison 1848-1916

The Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison: Marriage and Children

William Lloyd Garrison married Helen Benson in 1834, a woman from an abolitionist family. The two had seven children together; however, of the seven, Charles and Elizabeth did not survive to adulthood.

The Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison: Creator of Abolitionists

William Lloyd Garrison experienced full mob brutality in 1835 when he agreed to stand in for abolitionist George Thompson in order to give a lecture to the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society. The mob had other ideas; William Lloyd Garrison was kicked him in the head and dragged through the streets with a rope until the sheriff arrested him, thus saving his life. It was this scene that Wendell Phillips had seen from the window of his law firm; inspiring to him to become a fellow abolitionist. Through William Lloyd Garrison's paper, the southern abolitionist Angelina Grimke was quickly catapulted to fame when he published her letter without permission in The Liberator.

The Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison: Suffragist

Despite outcry amongst some of his readers, William Lloyd Garrison maintained that gender equality was as important as racial equality. Ever a champion of equal rights, when the World anti-Slavery Convention in London failed to seat the female American delegates, William Lloyd Garrison was amongst the male delegates that refused to be seated and instead accompanied the women to the spectator gallery.

The Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison: Political Views and Later Life

William Lloyd Garrison was of the opinion that the U.S Constitution promoted slavery, and therefore people should not participate in politics. Though he was not the only abolitionist to hold this view, many abolitionists believed that politics held the key to bringing the situation to a final conclusion. Frederick Douglass soon adopted this way of thinking, which caused friction in his friendship with William Lloyd Garrison. In 1850, William Lloyd Garrison was appointed as a member of the National Women's Rights Committee. Wendell Phillips took over as the president of the Anti-Slavery Society in 1865, but William Lloyd Garrison continued in promoting rights of suffrage for African Americans and women, even becoming associate editor of the Woman's Journal and president of the American Woman Suffrage Association, in which he maintained visibility throughout the 1870s.


  1. William Lloyd Garrison - Letters of William Lloyd Garrison: I Will Be Heard 1822-1835

  2. The Garrison Family Papers

  3. Five College Archives and Manuscript Collections

  4. Encyclopaedia Britannica

The Biography of Famous Slave/ Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison

  • The Biography of William Lloyd Garrison, for Education and Learning
  • William Lloyd Garrison's Efforts to End Slavery
  • William Lloyd Garrison's Political Beliefs



  • Quick Facts About the Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison
  • Abolitionist and Suffragist William Lloyd Garrison
  • William Lloyd Garrison's Childhood and Family

Facts about slavery - Slaves in America - Abolitionists - Racial equality - Slavery in the USA - Education - William Lloyd Garrison - Slavery in the United States - Abolition Movement - Facts about slaves - Learning - African American slaves - Slavery in America - Information about slavery - Abolitionist - Underground Railroad - The Liberator - School