The Wisdom of William Lloyd Garrison

This is a famous passage from Garrison’s more famous paper, the Liberator, with which many of you may (or should) be familiar. It nevertheless is one of those quotes which has a potent and self-regenerating life of its own each time I read it, one which seems as fiery and relevant today as it was when he penned it almost two hundred years ago.

I am aware, that many object to the severity of my language; but it 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 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 hand 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.

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