William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) was an American journalist and social reformer best known for campaigning for the abolition of slavery, not through gradual reform but by 'the immediate and complete emancipation of all slaves'. He edited the abolitionist journal The Liberator, and was one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society. Garrison visited Newcastle during his second tour of Britain in 1867, four years after President Lincoln's emancipation proclamation, and two years after the passing of the thirteenth amendment to the US constitution. He had already been fêted in London and Manchester, and would go next to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Garrison spent four days in Newcastle, from 6th to 10th July. He stayed at the home of John Mawson in Gateshead. Mawson was a member of Newcastle Town Council: in November 1867 was elected Sheriff of the city, but he died in an explosion on the Town Moor the following summer while trying to bury a number of unclaimed canisters of nitroglycerine. On 9th July Garrison was given what he described as a 'grand reception' in the Assembly Rooms. Mawson introduced him in an emotional opening speech. There was also a second welcoming address, from the North Shields Reform League, read by Joseph Cowen. The League's members declared that 'though living remote from you, on the margin of the North Sea', they had 'held unfaltering faith in you and your work for fully a quarter of a century... When our countrymen in America have sent stray copies of the Liberator here to our reading rooms, we have never failed to peruse with absorbing interest the reports of the great antislavery agitation in your country, and we have been cheered in our work here by a knowledge of what was being done across the Atlantic'.
The Assembly Rooms are on Fenkle Street near to the main train station.
Francis Jackson Garrison, William Lloyd Garrison, 1805-1879: the story of his life told by his children vol. 4 (Boston, Mass., 1889) pp. 219-220; Walter M. Merrill (ed.), Letters of William Lloyd Garrison vol. 6 (Cambridge, Mass., 1981) pp. 31-32.