Born in poverty, and self-educated while working in a print shop, William Lloyd Garrison
was one of the United States' greatest crusading editors, putting out a weekly anti-slavery
newspaper, The Liberator, for 35 years, beginning in 1831. A product of the rough and tumble political journalism of the day, Garrison wrote with extreme passion and from an uncompromising point of view. Yet the man who emerges from the pages of All on Fire
is a deeply thoughtful person who, despite barely escaping lynch mobs
himself, had a great sense of humor and a very polite demeanor. Historians have tended to minimize Garrison's impact on America, and some consider him a fringe character. But Henry Meyer, in this hefty biography, places Garrison at the center of his century, noting that Garrison's thought and tactics influenced not only the country's changing view of slavery, but also inspired the incipient feminist movement. The Lincoln administration noted Garrison's influence by inviting him to help raise the flag over the recaptured Fort Sumter
. All on Fire
goes into great detail on Garrison's life and work, providing the close and copious examination this activist's life fully deserves. --Robert McNamara
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William Lloyd Garrison was a free black in Massachusetts who published an abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator, until after the Civil War. Lynching was the delivery of capital punishment by mob justice to people suspected but not convicted or perhaps even charged with crimes, primarily in the Deep South. Fort Sumter was an outpost of the US Army in Charleston Harbor, which the Confederate States bombarded and captured in 1861 as the first engagement of the Civil War. Abolitionism was the movement, centered in the North, that abolition of slavery even in those states that had practiced it since the founding of the country.