W.L. Garrison (on the need for immoderation)

Intellectually, I believe in moderation, and I have proved for myself that “moderation in all things” — at least for many of the things life has brought to me — is among the most valuable of principles and a guide to right living. But I enjoy blizzards and heat waves, and some tunes just have to be played loud. And my goodness, I love and wish to echo the passion for justice in Garrison’s defiant eloquence. Listen:

“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.”


William Lloyd Garrison (December 13, 1805 – May 24, 1879) was a prominent American journalist, and social reformer. He edited the radical abolitionist newspaper The Liberator, and in the first edition — published in 1831, when Garrison was only 26! — he wrote the above challenge/threat/promise/vow. He was one of America’s greatest voices for justice, not only a founder of the American Anti-Slavery Society but also a campaigner for women’s suffrage.

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