Introduction to Friendships Forged in Fire


Views by Horace Seldon

Garrison students and readers are familiar with the time in his early life when he was cautioned by his friend Samuel May not to be too much aflame with the passion of his abolition commitment. We can easily understand the argument that people were “put-off” by his fiery spirit, that it was fearful to see, and caused some to back away from listening to what he said.  His answer was the classic response that he had “need to be on fire”, because he “had mountains of ice to melt”.

That passion was the “fire” that forged his life.  His responses to everyone who  cautioned him was born in that “fire”.  Some will argue that the “smoke” too frequently clouded his vision and limited his ability to reach many who turned away from that very “fire”.  Others will praise that uncompromising “fire”. That debate is for the ages.

Here I begin a series of essays which attempt to show Garrison’s commitment to the self-emancipated people or free-born blacks whom he knew, to illustrate the continuous character of that personal commitment to each of them.  I rely on items which appear in the Liberator showing either that there was communication on a given date/s with or about the named person.  Readers should recognize the limited nature of information contained here.  What is here depends on what was originally chosen to include in  With that limitation in mind, the writer hopes that readers will be inspired to do personal further research in copies of the Liberator.

This is a “work-in-progress”, and will be expanded from time to time.  Currently you will find references to Garrison’s friendships with William and Ellen Craft, Lewis Hayden, William Wells Brown, William Cooper Nell, and Frederick Douglass.

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