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Wendell Phillips

Wendell Phillips was born in Boston on November 29, 1811. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law, but after being admitted to the bar showed little interest in legal practice. He became instead an abolitionist and an adherent of William Lloyd Garrison. He achieved instant fame with a fiery speech delivered at Faneuil Hall in Boston on December 8, 1837, in reaction to the murder of the abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy at Alton, Illinois. For the next two decades, Phillips was a close associate of Garrison's and one of the most effective abolitionist orators. They eventually parted ways in 1864 over the question of Lincoln's re-election, which Phillips opposed. Following the war, although Garrison viewed the work of the American Anti-Slavery Society to be over, Phillips persisted and kept the organization alive for another five years. Phillips devoted himself to more than justice for blacks. His support for many causes, unpopular at the time, included the rights of Irish and Indians, and woman suffrage. In 1870, he ran unsuccessfully for governor of Massachusetts on a temperance ticket. Regarded as one of the handful of best orators of his time, Wendell Phillips employed many subjects besides his serious social and political concerns. His style anticipated the modern style, with less theatricalism and simpler vocabulary. He died in Boston on February 2, 1884.