Object of the Month February 2023 - “Thompson the Abolitionist” Broadside

February 2023

“Thompson the Abolitionist” Broadside

On October 21, 1835, George Donisthorpe Thompson, a British abolitionist, arrived in Boston to give an anti-slavery lecture at the invitation of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society. The lecture was to take place at the offices of The Liberator, an abolitionist newspaper published by William Lloyd Garrison. This broadside reflected the popular opinion of much of Boston’s “respectable” society in that time period, who supported slavery and believed abolition would result in the destruction of the union. Approximately two thousand people (termed “highly respectable gentlemen” by local newspapers) gathered to protest. A riot ensued as protesters mobbed the office, searching for Thompson. Instead, they found William Lloyd Garrison, dragging him through the streets before the police rescued him, taking him first to Old State House, then to the Leverett Street Jail for safekeeping. The incident came to be known as the Boston Gentlemen Riot or the Garrison Riot and made national headlines.

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