Wendell Phillips, an American orator, born in Boston, Mass., Nov. 29, 1811. His father was John Phillips, the first mayor of Boston. Wendell graduated at Harvard college in 1831, at the law school in 1833, and was admitted to the bar in 1834. In 1836 he became a Garrison abolitionist (see Garrison, William Lloyd), and in 1839 relinquished law practice from unwillingness to observe the oath of fealty to the federal constitution. His first notable speech was made in Faneuil Hall in December, 1837, in a meeting called to consider the murder of the Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy at Alton, 111. From that time till 1861 he was a prominent leader and the most popular orator of the abolitionists. He advocated disunion as the only road to abolition until the opening of the civil war, after which he sustained the government for a similar reason. In 1863-'4 he advocated arming, educating, and enfranchising the freedmen, and for the two latter purposes procured the continuance of the anti-slavery society till after the adoption of the 15th amendment in 1869. In 1870 he was the temperance and labor reform candidate for governor of Massachusetts, receiving nearly 20,000 votes.
At a meeting in Faneuil Hall in January, 1875, called to denounce the Louisiana policy of President Grant, Mr. Phillips made a powerful speech in favor of that policy. He has long advocated woman suffrage, prohibitory liquor laws, and prison reform, and opposed capital punishment. His financial views were set forth in a speech delivered in Boston in March, 1875. He has delivered numerous popular lectures in most of the northern states, the more notable being those on " The Lost Arts" and " Toussaint l'Ouverture," and funeral eulogies on Theodore Parker and John Brown. There is no complete edition of his speeches; several of them have been published as pamphlets and widely circulated both in the United States and in England. A partial collection has been published in Boston (8vo, 1864, and 12mo, 1869). His other writings are scattered through numerous periodicals and newspapers.