The series “The Abolitionists,” premiered on PBS, January 15, 2013. The relationship between Garrison and Douglass evolved over time as evidenced by Douglass’s comment in his Narrative of the Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1845) that he was converted to abolitionism by reading the Liberator published by Garrison.
The paper became my meat and my drink. My soul was set all on fire. Its sympathy for my brethren in bonds—its scathing denunciations of slaveholders—its faithful exposures of slavery—and its powerful attacks upon the upholders of the institution—sent a thrill of joy through my soul, such as I had never felt before!
I had not long been a reader of the “Liberator,” before I got a pretty correct idea of the principles, measures and spirit of the anti-slavery reform. I took right hold of the cause. I could do but little; but what I could, I did with a joyful heart, and never felt happier than when in an anti-slavery meeting” ( Life and Times 118).
Douglass in his later autobiography, My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), would strike a more independent posture.
“Tell your story, Frederick,” would whisper my then revered friend, William Lloyd Garrison, as I stepped upon the platform. I could not always obey, for I was now reading and thinking. New views of the subject were presented to my mind. It did not entirely satisfy me to narrate wrongs; I felt like denouncing them. I could not always curb my moral indignation for the perpetrators of slave-holding villainy, long enough for a circumstantial statement of the facts which I felt almost everybody must know. Besides, I was growing, and needed room” (Bondage 220).
Douglass founded his own anti-slavery newspaper, The North Star, under his complete control, and established one of the earliest rationales for an independent black press.