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12 December

'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 - I WILL BE HEARD.'

December 12, 2009
2 min read

Happy birthday William Lloyd Garrison, born in 1805. An indefatigable, uncompromising fighter against slavery in the United States, he published and edited The Liberator for 35 years and 1,820 issues, starting on 1 January 1831. In his first editorial, he wrote:

‘I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to 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 the present. I am in earnest – I will not equivocate – I will not excuse – I will not retreat a single inch – AND I WILL BE HEARD. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal, and to hasten the resurrection of the dead.

‘It is pretended, that I am retarding the cause of emancipation by the coarseness of my invective and the precipitancy of my measures. The charge is not true. On this question of my influence – humble as it is – is felt at this moment to a considerable extent, and shall be felt in coming years – not perniciously, but beneficially – not as a curse, but as a blessing; and posterity will bear testimony that I was right.’


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