Timeline

1835

October 21st, 1835

White Mob Attacks Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison in Boston

William Lloyd Garrison was a prominent white abolitionist and newspaper editor in the 19th century. Born in 1805 in Newburyport, Massachusetts, to English immigrants, Garrison co-founded his first newspaper at age 22 and began to focus on the issue of slavery. In 1829, Garrison became the co-editor of the Baltimore-based Genius of Universal Emancipation, through which he and his colleagues criticized proponents of slavery.

Unlike most American abolitionists at the time, Garrison demanded immediate emancipation of enslaved black people rather than gradual emancipation. In 1830, he founded The Liberator, which continued to publish criticisms of slavery. By that time, Garrison had become a vocal opponent of the American Colonization Society, which sought to reduce the number of free blacks by relocating them to Africa. In 1832, Garrison helped to organize the American Anti-Slavery Society and sought to keep the organization unaffiliated with any political party. He also advocated for women to be allowed equal participation in the organization, a radical stance nearly 90 years before women in America obtained the right to vote.

On October 21, 1835, Garrison attended a meeting held by the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society to hear remarks from George Thompson, a British abolitionist and personal friend. Thompson had been warned that a pro-slavery mob planned to tar-and-feather him and declined to attend the meeting. The mob seized Garrison instead, dragged him through the streets by a rope around his waist, and threatened to lynch him until he was rescued by police. Garrison spent the night in a city jail and left Boston the next morning. He remained a staunch opponent of slavery and lived to see the institution’s demise 30 years later.