RCC Honors History Project

William Lloyd Garrison

Posted by rccaahistory on November 5, 2008

What would William Lloyd Garrison have thought about the outcome of this recent presidential election?  Who is up to the challenge of finding a quote from his writings that you think would be a fitting response in 2008?  What about Nat Turner?  What about Thomas Jefferson?

Dr.  Woods


8 Responses to “William Lloyd Garrison”

  1. jabberwhacky said

    It’s interesting to contemplate what William Lloyd Garrison would think or say about the 2008 election results when considering how important a role he had served during the prominent phases of the abolition movement and how strongly he desired change during a time of great injustice and inequality.

    If I had to choose a statement said by someone else that best reflected Garrison’s thoughts regarding the 2008 election, I gladly choose Obama’s victory speech: “America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do”

    If I had to choose a statement to best represent Obama’s presidential victory, I would quote Garrison: “I will be as harsh as truth, and uncompromising as justice [. . .] I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation… I am in earnest–I will not equivocate–I will not excuse–I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.”

  2. andrewptscott said

    William Lloyd Garrison, Nat Turner and Thomas Jefferson may be the three most jubilant individuals in 2009 as President elect Barack Obama is sworn in. It is a quite remarkable accomplishment that an African American is able to run for and tactually be our president of the United States. Garrison’s writings and ideas in the Liberator have now been fulfilled in the United States. As such an extremist with firm radical beliefs for his time, Garrison would be extremely proud of the outcome. This election proves that America has grown as a nation and put its unjust and unfair past behind. A few quotes that I think are appropriate for this recent presidential election are: “Wherever there is a human being, I see God-given rights inherent in that being, whatever may be the sex or complexion.” and “You can not possibly have a broader basis for government than that which includes all the people, with all their rights in their hands, and with an equal power to maintain their rights.” I believe these quotes fit the theme of what this presidential election stands for.

    As for Thomas Jefferson the quote I chose is, “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” The reason I chose this particular quote is because I believe that Jefferson and the other founding fathers built this nation with the knowledge that times and beliefs will change. The constitution is flexible and living and the views were optimistic for the abolishment of slavery. The irony in a former slave owner Jefferson having presidency in common with Obama proves the nation has taken a step for the better.

  3. dnsom said

    William Lloyd Garrison’s reaction to the outcome of the recent U.S. Presidential Elections could be found in his “Words of Encouragement to the Oppressed”(1833)speech to the enslaved blacks in which he said the following:
    “Let this be an occasion of joy. Why should it not be so ?
    Is not the heaven over your heads, which has so long been
    clothed in sackcloth, beginning to disclose its starry principalities,
    and illumine your pathway ? Do you not see the pitiless
    storm, which has so long been pouring its rage upon you,
    breaking away, and a bow of promise, as glorious as that
    which succeeded the ancient deluge, spanning the sky, — a token that,
    to the end of time, the billows of prejudice and
    oppression shall no more cover the earth, to the destruction
    of your race ; but seed-time and harvest shall never fail,
    and the laborer shall eat the fruit of his hands ?…Yours has been a long and
    rigorous winter. The chill of contempt, the frost of adversity,
    the blast of persecution, the storm of oppression — all
    have been yours. There was no sustenance to be found —
    no prospect to delight the eye, or inspire the drooping
    heart — no golden ray to dissipate the gloom. The waves
    of derision were stayed by no barrier, but made a clear
    breach over you. But, now — thanks be to God ! that dreary
    winter is rapidly hastening away. The sun of humanity is
    going steadily up, from the horizon to its zenith, growing
    larger and brighter, and melting the frozen earth beneath its
    powerful rays. The genial showers of repentance are softly
    falling upon the barren plain ; the wilderness is budding
    like the rose ; the voice of joy succeeds the notes of wo ;
    and hope, like the lark, is soaring upwards, and warbling
    hymns at the gate of heaven” (R.F. Wallcut, 1852)

  4. dnsom said

    If Nat Turner had any reactions to the results of the recent presidential elections he would say, “the time [has finally come]when the first should be last and the last should be first” (Confessions). As for Thomas Jefferson, he would apologize for thinking that integrating the blacks into the state would “divide us into parties, and produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the extermination of the one or the other race” (Masur 58)

  5. rccaahistory said


    That Thomas Jefferson quote is really good! I think Jefferson would even appreciate the irony.

    Dr. Woods

  6. nrohr said

    There was surely a Heavenly host of slaves, abolitionists, and civil rights activists who were beaming with pride as Barack Obama took the stage at Grant Park on November 4, 2008. The emotion may be even greater on January 20, 2009 when Barack Obama is officially sworn in as President of the United States of America.

    William Lloyd Garrison, I think, would be pleased. He was a tireless advocate of justice and equality, and he would no doubt be proud that the people of the United States elected a man of color to be their president. There is a part of me that feels Garrison settled with nothing, and with every victory looked on to the next thing to achieve. So I don’t think Garrison would be stop here—he would keep working for justice and equality. In the first editorial of The Liberator, Garrison wrote, “Assenting to the ’self-evident truths’ maintained in the American Declaration of Independence, ‘that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights–among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ I shall strenuously contend for the immediate enfranchisement of our slave population.” Garrison ascended to American’s highest ideals, and America honored those ideals in this election.

    Thomas Jefferson seems a little hard to figure. He declared that all men were created equal but he thought black people were inferior. He thought slavery was immoral and yet he still owned slaves. Jefferson seems a conflicted character to me, but also an open and inquisitive intellectual, ready to learn and be surprised. So I don’t know what quote of Jefferson’s fits this day and age, but I think he might remember saying that blacks were inferior to whites “in the endowments of both body and mind,” and now be amused by this recent election, amused that he was wrong about black people (Barack Obama, I think, is well endowed in both body and mind) and amused by what America has done. He may not have meant it wholeheartedly, but something about Jefferson’s words and character suggests to me that today he would be happy that his United States had showed the world that now we mean it a little more when we say that all men are created equal. I think he would agree with Barack Obama when he said, “For that is the true genius of America — that America can change. Our union can be perfected.”

  7. nrohr said

    On this same subject I wanted to share an article from The Root, written by Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. It’s called “In Our Lifetime.”


  8. meluleki said

    think Nat Turner would be the happiest man to see a black man rise from the ashes to become the President of the most powerful nation on planet earth. He would probably be the most admired dreamer and a close adviser to to Barack Obama. Surely he would repeat his words, “was christ not crucified” meaning some people tried to bring Barack Obama down he rose like christ did. i like the fact that he saw himself as a perfect match with christ which i believe is a symbol of faith and personal strength.

    As for Garrison he would be running the most pro Obama media company that has never existed before. He would be praising the non violent, pro diversity strategies that were implemented by President elect Obama’s compaign.

    Jefferson would support Obama in sense that he had mixed reactions towards slavery. i believe that he supported slavery at the time because it was lucrative, but not neccesarily that he thought blacks were less than human. His family is a perfect example that in a way he was in love with people of color. As smart as he was, definitely he would be talking more about his mixed side of the famil by now.

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