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

(1827)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

When the first issue of Freedom’s Journal appeared on March 16, 1827, Samuel Cornish and John Russwurm included an editorial headed “To Our Patrons,” which served as an introduction to the newspaper’s format and goals. The editors made it clear that their main concern was not reacting to white racism but instead concentrating on construction of an African American identity.

First, Cornish and Russwurm acknowledge both the audacity and the potential of what they are endeavoring to do. Since no newspaper for or by African Americans had ever existed, it was certainly a “new and untried business.” Nevertheless, they had a real sense that it was time to try such a thing, since there were “so many schemes … in action concerning our people”—most likely a reference to colonization and the overall paternalistic attitude that whites had toward African Americans at that time. Freedom’s Journal, they say, existed for the education, edification,...

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

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