Besides not witnessing plantation slavery, Tocqueville and Beaumont also did not see the beginnings of a strong abolitionist movement which contributed to the great divide between pro-slavery and anti-slavery, rather than between black and white, as many of their informants claimed. On January 1 1831, William Lloyd Garrison started the aggressively anti-slavery newspaper, the Liberator, which continued uninterrupted until 1865 (Rogers 50). Besides becoming a subject of much heated debate, the Liberator also served as an inspiration for literate slaves and free blacks, as Frederick Douglass vividly describes:
In about four months after I went to New Bedford, there came a young man to me, and inquired if I did not wish to take the "Liberator." I told him I did not; but, just having made my escape from slavery, I remarked that I was unable to pay for it then. I, however, became a subscriber to it. The paper came, and I read it from week to week with such feelings as it would be quite idle for me to attempt to describe. The paper became my meat and drink. My soul was set all on fire. Its sympathy for my brethren in bonds--its scathing denunciations of slaveholders--its faithful exposures of slavery--and its powerful attacks upon the upholders of the institution--sent a thrill of joy through my soul, such as I had never felt before!
Garrison's rousing prose is evident in this excerpt from the Liberator's first issue (Rogers 52):
I will be harsh as truth, and as uncomprimising 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 himself. I am in earnest--I will not equivocate--I will not excuse--I will not retreat a single inch--AND I WILL BE HEARD.
Read more excerpts from the Liberator
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