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Wendell Phillips in Abolitionists

Wendell Phillips (1811-1884) was a wealthy Harvard Law School graduate who gave up his career and social prestige in order to join up with the abolitionist cause in 1835. He became one of its most stirring orators.

Phillips was a close associate and friend of abolitionist leader William Lloyd Garrison; after witnessing a hostile mob dragging Garrison through the streets of Boston in 1835, he joined up with the antislavery cause. Phillips also opposed both the annexation of Texas and the Mexican-American War. Like Garrison, he refused to identify with any political party and condemned the Constitution as a proslavery document. He thought that, in addition to freedom itself, the government owed blacks land, education, and all civil rights. Phillips lambasted President Lincoln for his moderate stance on emancipation. After the Civil War, Phillips continued to agitate for other reforms, such as women's rights, temperance, and the Greenback Party.

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