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Newspaper The Liberator (Boston, Mass.) 1831-1865 Journal of the times

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About The Liberator (Boston, Mass.) 1831-1865

The Liberator was a radical abolitionist newspaper published from 1831-65 in Boston, Massachusetts. A weekly four-page paper, it was the most influential abolitionist publication in the United States during the nineteenth century. At its peak, the Liberator was circulating 3,000 copies a week, primarily across the free North. It was funded and read largely by the free Black population in the North.

The paper was published and edited by radical abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) and was affiliated with the interracial organization the New England Anti-Slavery Society, which Garrison founded in 1832. Garrison believed in immediate abolition of slavery and integration of previously enslaved people into American society, an extremist position even among other abolitionists at the time.

The Liberator was organized as a forum for political debate and public discussion on slavery and abolition. The paper included letters from anti-abolitionists, “agents” (touring abolitionists), free Black people, and women. Along with letters, the paper published fiction, sermons, poetry, as well as articles on the inhumanity of slavery in the South and recent politics.

In some Southern states, having a copy of the Liberator in one’s possession was a crime. Garrison received death threats and attacks regularly; at one point, he was indicted in North Carolina for distributing antislavery material, and the Georgia Legislature offered a significant reward for his capture. These incidents did not deter Garrison from writing impassioned pieces for “the secession of the North from the South–to break the immoral Constitutional connection with slavery.”

Along with abolition, Garrison was a firm supporter of women’s rights. He advocated for their participation in the Liberator and in politics, which was divisive within the abolition movement. Garrison printed writings from Lydia Maria Child, Felicia Hemans, Louisa May Alcott, Maria Stewart, Angelina Grimké, Catharine Beecher, and other women writers.

Garrison also had a close relationship with Frederick Douglass and printed many of Douglass’s writings in the Liberator. In 1845, he also published Douglass’s first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and wrote the preface. Unfortunately, their relationship soured two years later when their political views diverged.

Over thirty years, the Liberator covered several major historical events, including Nat Turner’s Rebellion in August 1831 and John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry in October 1859. Despite Garrison’s pacifist beliefs, the Liberator covered the Civil War extensively from 1861-1864, including printing letters from Black Union soldiers. It is not a coincidence that the paper ceased publication in December 1865 after the 13th Amendment was ratified. Slavery had been abolished from the United States, and Garrison felt that the Liberator‘s mission had been accomplished.

Provided By: MA - Boston Public LIbrary

About this Newspaper


  • The Liberator (Boston, Mass.) 1831-1865

Other Title

  • Journal of the times


  • Garrison, William Lloyd, 1805-1879
  • Yerrington, James Brown, 1800-1866

Dates of Publication

  • 1831-1865

Created / Published

  • Boston, Mass. : William Lloyd Garrison and Isaac Knapp, 1831-1865.


  • -  Antislavery movements--United States--Newspapers
  • -  Boston (Mass.)--Newspapers
  • -  Suffolk County (Mass.)--Newspapers
  • -  Antislavery movements
  • -  Massachusetts--Boston
  • -  Massachusetts--Suffolk County
  • -  United States
  • -  United States--Massachusetts--Suffolk--Boston


  • Newspapers
  • Anti-slavery periodicals


  • -  Weekly
  • -  Vol. 1, no. 1 (Jan. 1, 1831)-v. 35, no. 52 (Dec. 29, 1865).
  • -  "Our Country is the World - Our Countrymen are Mankind."
  • -  "No union with slaveholders."
  • -  "Published at the Anti-Slavery Office, Robert F. Wallcut, General Agent" <1860>
  • -  J. Brown Yerrington, Printer <1845->
  • -  Issue for called also .
  • -  Available on microfilm from UMI as part of the American Periodical Series, 1800-1850, the New York Public Library-3M, and the Library of Congress, Photoduplication Service; also available online.


  • volumes ; 63 cm

Call Number/Physical Location

  • Newspaper
  • E449 .L678

Library of Congress Control Number

  • sn84031524

OCLC Number

  • 1728160

ISSN Number

  • 2997-7649

Additional Metadata Formats


Rights & Access

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

The Liberator Boston, Mass. -1865. (Boston, MA), Jan. 1 1831.

APA citation style:

(1831, January 1) The Liberator Boston, Mass. -1865. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

The Liberator Boston, Mass. -1865. (Boston, MA) 1 Jan. 1831. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,