Frederick Douglass: First Editorial of the North Star

(1847)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

In his inaugural editorial, Douglass outlines his reasons for starting his own newspaper. In the first paragraph he notes that he has long desired to see a newspaper edited from the perspective of the former slave. Although there had been a number of African American newspapers, beginning with Freedom’s Journal in 1827, most had been short-lived, and all had been headed by men who were born free. Douglass believed that as a former slave he could offer a unique position on both the antislavery movement and the civil rights issues that concerned black Americans.

The second paragraph establishes that the North Star was operating out of offices in the central business district of Rochester. Douglass was not trained as a printer, so he planned to rely on local skilled artisans to assist with the actual printing of his weekly. In fact, it turned out that the printing equipment Douglass purchased was inadequate, and the North Star contracted...

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Frederick Douglass (Library of Congress)

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