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This matter of abstention — from voting or violence or anything else-suggests the two opposite ways of regarding any cause directed against any evil. I may have an overwhelming interest in the cause itself, so that I quite forget myself in it. My one effort is to put an end to the evil. Or I may simply try to wash my hands of it — to clear my skirts of it-and in my efforts to maintain my personal purity I may neglect altogether the question of the progress of the cause. Which is the better vegetarian — the one who starves himself to death by sticking to his diet under unfavorable circumstances, thus making himself a living, or rather a dying argument against his principles; or the one who is willing to eat meat for the sake of the cause? There is a good deal to be said for the latter individual. And so the non-resistant who votes in the direction of less force may argue that he is doing more for the cause than if he abstained. He would be right; and the man who had risen to a higher plane and abjured voting would also be right. At any rate it is difficult to see how Garrison's scruples about voting affected his influence. As a matter of fact, they kept him clear of the bootless embarrassments of third-party politics, and those who separated from him on this issue were soon lost in the crowd

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William Lloyd Garrison (1)
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