Abolitionists like Wendell Phillips admitted that “our unpopularity is no fault of ours, but flows necessarily and unavoidably from our position” and that public acceptance of their beliefs mattered not. They were convinced of the righteousness of their cause, and the death of a million people in a war they helped cause left them unmoved.
Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865
Prophets Rebuking Endless Sins
“Wendell Phillips . . . characterized Abraham Lincoln in 1860 as “the slave-hound of Illinois,” and said that John Brown “carried letters of marque from God.” But like his fellow champion in the abolition cause [Garrison], he early lost whatever love of the Negro he might have had in an egotistic hatred of his white, Southern opponents.
After the [War Between the States], Wendell Phillips sought new outlets for his persuasive, self-assured energies in the causes of women’s rights and the claims of labor, but William Lloyd Garrison slipped slowly into the background, supported by the charity of his admirers, emerging on occassion to play the aging hero before a younger generation of reform-minded folk, and constant in his role as irritant to the body politic.
In all their activities, both Garrison and Phillips represented a tendency in American life which has never much appealed to observers from the Old World — in which self-appointed guardians of public morals rise up like the Old Testament prophets to rebuke sins as they see it, and in the most intemperate terms.”
(Mr. Lincoln’s Contemporaries, Roy Meredith, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1951, page 32)