- Series: Bedford Series in History & Culture
- Paperback: 206 pages
- Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's; 1st edition (November 15, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312103867
- ISBN-13: 978-0312103866
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.4 x 8.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #915,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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William Lloyd Garrison and the Fight Against Slavery: Selections from The Liberator (Bedford Series in History & Culture) 1st Edition
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"This new collection is a boon to students and teachers alike. The splendid introduction places Garrison in the context of his times and evaluates his place in history. Of special value is the intelligent and sensitive discussion of the abolitionists' espousal of racial egalitarianism in defiance of the racism of the age."
About the Author
William E. Cain is professor of English at Wellesley College. His scholarly work is concentrated on nineteenth- and twentieth-century America, with a special focus on the literature and history of the Civil War period. His publications include The Crisis in Criticism (1984) and F. O. Mathiessen and the Politics of Criticism (1988) in addition to numerous essays on English and American literature, American and African American history, critical theory, and literary criticism.
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Top customer reviews
William Cain has provided a good resource for students of the years leading up to the Civil War in his William Lloyd Garrison and the Fight against Slavery. His 50-page introduction carefully and interestingly recounts the facts of Garrison's life, the social and political contexts in which Garrison operated, and the particulars of Garrison's own brand of abolitionism--his distrust of politics, his espousal of disunion, his call for moral transformation as a necessary condition for social change, and his fidelity to "nonresistance"--the principles of which occasioned ruptures with other abolitionists such as Gerrit Smith and Frederick Douglass. Following the Introduction, Cain reproduces 130-odd pages from "The Liberator" that provides a representative sampling of topics. Cain also provides a short (and now somewhat outdated) bibliography, and a very helpful chronology (pp. 186-194).
Garrison is a frustrating author. His pieces are frequently wordy and so polemical that it's difficult to find his argument (although an argument is almost always present and discoverable by patient readers). At other times, despite his avowal of Christian pacifism, his pieces are breathlessly vituperative (his obituary of President Polk is an illustration, p. 120). At still other times, he can lapse into the mawkish. And always, everywhere, there's the unresolved tension between Garrison's espousal of nonresistance, and his incendiary rhetoric that the South (correctly) saw as inducements to violence. (A sustained scholarly comparison of the pacifism of Garrison and, say, an Adin Ballou would be fascinating.) So one can only imagine the task William Cain undertook when he sifted through the 35 volumes of "The Liberator" to compile this selection.
A fine complement to Cain's anthology is Henry Mayer's All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery (1998), published after Cain's book.
Garrison's famous editorial promise in the first issue of "The Liberator" (quoted on p. 72).
It would be wonderful if someone or some organization would make available the full test of all the issues of "The Liberator" as we now have of "DeBow's Review" but in the mean time this dollection offers a wonderful and appreciated start. Many thanks to the editoral staff and the publisher.
Garrison was perceived in the Slaveocracy as a terrorist, an inciter of "servile rebellion", a fanatic willing to see southern women violated and southern families hacked to bits. The fear and loathing that abolitionists like Garrison inspired in the South was unquestionably a precipitant of the crisis mentality that arose in the 1850s, when Southrons concluded that aggressive expansion of slavery was their only hope for maintaining their 'peculiar institution.'
Garrison was not a patriot -- not in the usual current "America First" sense, anyway. He was the guy who burned the US Constitution in public, a far stronger statement than burning a mere flag, and who called it a compact with Hell. He was essentially the first major figure to say that a Union tainted with slavery was not worth preserving. On the other hand, his bravery in maintaining a position of non-violent protest, of pacifism, brought even his enemies to acknowledge his grit.
There's no more appropriate way to approach Garrison than by reading his own words in these selections from his newspaper, The Liberator. It's quite revealing to find Garrison, John Brown, Thoreau, and other heroes of American intellectual history stating criticisms of America as vituperative and "treasonous" as any jeremiad preached from the pulpit by modern-day foes of racial hypocrisy.