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[125] will be of value in forming a diagnosis of present conditions and seeking a remedy for existing ills.

(i) And first of all, the Abolition movement was initiated by people of humble rank in society. Garrison began life as a cobbler's apprentice, and Lundy was a saddler. Even when the war broke out very few persons of prominence in society had taken their place among the Abolitionists, and those who did, such as Wendell Phillips and Edmund Quincy, were more or less ostracised and maligned. It was never “respectable” to be an Abolitionist. And it is true of all great social movements that their origin has been outside the pale of the “upper classes.” Growth does not begin at the top, and a healthy, vigorous, just cause cannot in the nature of things be respectable at first; and just in proportion as it becomes respectable it loses its energy and single-mindedness. And this estrangement of the wealth and culture of the day gives rise to all sorts of libelous stories regarding reformers. Because Garrison and his followers were not in “society” they were looked upon by “society” with contempt, and it became easy to stigmatize them as infidels, blasphemers and Sabbath-breakers, and they were accused of endeavoring to foment insurrection among the slaves. Nothing was too vile or too criminal to be ascribed to them,

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William Lloyd Garrison (2)
Edmund Quincy (1)
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