Samuel Cornish and John Russwurm: First Freedom’s Journal Editorial

(1827)

Context

Post–Revolutionary War America was a world of deep paradox. On the one hand, American colonists had issued a Declaration of Independence proclaiming that “all men are created equal.” On the other hand, America was a land entrenched in slavery, where free blacks did not seem to have a place and therefore were subject to racism, segregation, discrimination, and prejudice. The citizens of the newly formed United States attempted in these early years to find their identity as a nation and as a people. There were those in the country who wanted to define themselves without slavery, or at least to try to eradicate the system in the future. These individuals were mainly from the northern states, which started to abolish slavery as early as the 1770s; the southern states maintained their slave societies until after the Civil War.

Slavery was prohibited in the constitution of Vermont when it became an independent republic in 1777. Other northern states abolished slavery, some...

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Woodcut image of a supplicant male slave in chains (Library of Congress)

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