A descendent of Bostonís first mayor, Wendell Phillips was born in the city on November 29, 1811.
He graduated from Harvard College in 1831, from Harvard Law School in 1833, and was admitted to the bar the following year.
Watching from his law office in 1835, the 24 year-old Phillips witnessed the attempted lynching of an anti-slavery activist. Shortly afterward, he left the legal profession to fight against the institution of slavery, becoming an abolitionist leader.
He authored anti-slavery pamphlets, wrote editorials for abolitionist publications, and spoke widely for the cause.
Rejecting as corrupt, both the political process and the constitution, he refused to vote until after emancipation was accomplished. In the years leading up to the American Civil War, he called for the expulsion of the slave states from the Union, so that the United States could avoid the taint of slavery.
Phillips also promoted womenís rights, labor reforms, and worked for the civil rights of black Americans after the Civil War.
He died February 2, 1884.