The Afro-American Press and Its Editors/Part 1
THE FIRST AFRO-AMERICAN NEWSPAPERS.
FROM the very first time the Afro-American had a right to exercise his freedom in this country, his course with regard to church, state and society, has been followed with more than ordinary zeal, and his progress in the various pursuits undertaken by him have been noted with an exacting eye, characteristic of the most watchful. Why he has been watched in this peculiar way is not hard to be seen when the circumstances surrounding his life has been taken into consideration. When one remembers that he was brought from Africa only two centuries ago, an uncivilized and barbarous creature, and settled in a country where he was deprived the privileges of becoming even properly civilized; when one remembers that during this aforesaid period he had not one iota of opportunity to understand the most unpretentious business act in state or church; when one remembers that he was not allowed, (if he desired,) to think of a business transaction in any of its ramifications, were they ever so small; when it is remembered that the whole world was closed against him for centuries, save that of labor in the field of his owner; and when it is remembered that he faced the world as freeman, laborer, mechanic, student, scholar, lawyer, doctor, engineer, business man, journalist, etc., under the most embarrassing circumstances, the desire of mind and heart for a complete knowledge of his development grows into a mountain of curiosity. Thus it can be said that he is to-day the cynosure of all nations.
If the above be true, (which every one in fairness will admit,) the next thought that would likely present itself is: Has the Afro-American made any commendable progress amid the multiplicity of disadvantages which have beset him? We freely assert that he has; and it is with this thought in mind that we propose to deal with the facts of his journalistic career of sixty-three years, dating from the first paper published in New York City, March 16, 1827, to the present auspicious year of 1890. And from our observations we predict that the Nineteenth Century will close with a halo of journalistic sunshine about his head, and the Twentieth Century open with succeeding new events indicative of his triumphant success.Between the years of 1827 and 1830, there were published in New York City by an Afro-American two papers known as Freedom's Journal and Rights of All. These two papers were both edited by Mr. John B. Russwurm. They both seem to have been one and the same paper, only during publication the names were changed; thus the two names. There is some conflict of opinion among those few who now live and remember anything about the matter, as to whether The Freedom's Journal or The Rights of All was the name of Mr. Russwurm's paper. Be this as it may, the decision of those who were most intimately acquainted with Mr. Rossoworm, and upon whose breadth of intelligence and scope of memory we feel safely secure, is that The Freedom's Journal was the first publication by Afro-Americans. It was issued, Vol. I, No. 1, March 16, 1827. Of course, any paper established by Afro-Americans at that time and for the succeeding
The Afro-Americans in the North that would patronize the journal were few, while the Abolitionists numbered no great throng at that time.
The Journal was a medium-sized weekly, presenting a very neat appearance, while the composition was as good as some journals of to-day. Mr. Russwurm had a most excellent estimate as to how an Afro-American journal should be conducted, particularly at that time, and for the people in whose interests it was published. There are few men who have lived who knew more about the business, or whose editorial pen could battle with such force against a volcano of sin and oppression, like unto that of American slavery. It devolved upon him and his journal to create sentiment, and to prove the interest which the free Afro-American of the North had in his oppressed brethren in the South.
At this time there appeared a mighty question involving life, the chastity of our women, the property, home and happiness of the freedmen of the South, to which the best efforts of Afro-American journalism must be directed yet it was not half so great as that of American slavery. Now the journalist contends for our rights as citizens; then he contended for our freedom from bondage, or our deliverance from a human curse which then seemed riveted about us with a most tenacious grip. It was for this, Mr. Russwurm caused The Journal to open its way and contend through discouragement and embarrassment for rights.
He was a man of positive journalistic ability, singleness of purpose and strong character. It is said he entered the forum of debate for the Abolition cause doing what he could with a heartiness and zeal only equalled by the martyrs of abolition. The North had not fully waked up to the abolition cause. Many, who hated the Afro-American, published papers attacking the free Afro-American as well as the poor slave. It was on this account, too, that the leading Afro-Americans of New York City met, formulated plans and encouraged, to the best of their ability, the efforts of Mr. Russwurm.
There was a local paper published in New York City in 1827 and 1828 by an Afro-American-hating Jew, which made the vilest attacks upon the Afro-Americans. It encouraged slavery and deplored the thought of freedom for the slave. It seems to have been a power in that direction. Against this The Journal was directed, and it did heavy cannonading against this perpetrator of evil.
Mr. Russwurm had associated with him in the publication of The Journal Rev. Samuel E. Cornish, and possibly others whose names are not editorially mentioned, since the inception of The Journal was the result of a meeting of Messrs. Russwurm, Cornish and others at the house of M. Bostin Crummell (Rev. Dr. Crummell's father,) in New York, called to consider the attacks of the local paper mentioned above.Rev. Cornish also did editorial work upon The Journal. He was a man of wonderful intellectual parts, having keen perception and a mind full of thought and judgment. He was very probably the most thoughtful and reliable, certainly the most popular and conversant, editor of his time. This is seen in the fact that in all his succeeding journalistic efforts, ranging through a course of twenty years, he was actively connected with some paper as editor or associate editor. A gentleman writing to the author says: "He was a most successful journalist." Another, writing about Rev. Cornish, says: "He was an old and indefatigable journalist." Another says: "Undoubtedly he was the greatest wielder of the pen in a quarter of a century of Afro-American journalism."
The following editorial which appeared in the Colored American, a paper since edited by him, will serve, we are sure, to justify the reader in accepting the above comments.
THE IMPORTANCE OF AGRICULTURAL PURSUITS.
America in many respects is a glorious country. She rivals boasted England in the excellence of her agriculture. The whole length and breadth of her land might, by proper culture, be converted into one universal and fertile garden, pouring forth her riches in exuberant abundance. Thus, blessed by the smiles, and watered by the showers of a bountiful Heaven, she may well and justly call forth loud and hearty praises of her sons. In a land then, like this, characterized by its geniality of climate, and great fertility of soil, many are the inducements held out to the sober and industrious; and morally culpable is he who can "eat the bread of idleness," or who can, with health and strength, sit down surrounded by pinching misery and want.
On the subject of agricultural pursuits, our people are too indifferent. It is a subject, however, of immense importance to colored interest, both individual and general, and cannot be treated of too frequently or earnestly, by journals which advocate our cause.
If we would have more men among us in comfortable circumstances, we must turn our attention to farming. If we would have men who might exert a powerful influence in different communities, we must have the sturdy cultivators of the soil.
It is beyond a doubt, that the influence which our farmers exert is great and extensive; and it is evident, that wherever there may be located respectable, intelligent, and wealthy colored agriculturists, there they will be respected, and soon rise into power and influence.
Want of necessary capital may be urged by many, as the great difficulty in the way of our people on this subject. One might venture to say that the great portion of our most able farmers commenced their labors with far less capital than many of our colored citizens can lay claim to. Many have risen to their present affluence, who had at first scarcely as much money as would enable them to till a garden of cabbages. They struggled with difficulties apparently insuperable; but by their fixed determination and firm resolves, they removed all barriers, overcame all obstacles, conquered the soil, and finally became the independent masters of it. If we would be the "lords of the soil" we must go and do likewise,
There is too great a disposition among our men of capital to congregate in large cities, where their influence is, in a measure, entirely lost. To be sure, the advantages accruing to some, from a city settlement, are infinitely greater than a country one; but in many cases the individual, and the community at large, would be vastly benefited by the residence of our capitalists in different parts of our country.
It is highly important, therefore, I conceive, that this subject be duly and attentively considered by our people generally. We must gain some influence in our own country. At present, we have none. In our large cities, we are passed by as not at all incorporated in the body politic. Let us then resort to those measures, and pursue that course, which will be of the most advantage to us and will cause a colored American's influence to be weighed and valued.
Rev. Cornish retired from the publication of The Freedom's Journal, Mr. Russwurm assuming sole editorial control, with the issue of September 4, 1827, Vol. I, No. 27. The Journal was continued the year out. With the issue of March 21, 1828, the name of the paper was changed to Rights of All. Mr. Russwurm continued to follow, with unabating interest, the line of policy prescribed by The Freedoms Journal. It fought for Afro-American freedom and Afro-American citizenship. Mr. Russwurm's two publications were made more powerful, and the sentiment of the two more respected, because of its large list of agents and contributors, who were remarkable men, either for their work in behalf of the Afro-American or as the fathers of public-spirited descendants.
The following are some of them as found upon the paper:
David Walker, (Author of Walker's Appeal) Reuben —————, Portland, Me; Rev. Thomas Paul, Boston; Francis Webb, Boston; Stephen Smith, Columbia, Penn.; John Lemond, Salem, Mass.; Hezekiah Grice, Baltimore, Md.; Rev. Nathaniel Paul, Albany, N. Y.; Rev. Theodore S. Wright, Princeton, N. Y.; M. De Baptist, Fredericksburg, Va.; B. F. Hughes, Newark, N. J.; John W. Print, Washington, D. C.; Austin Stewart, Rochester, N. Y.; Rev. R. Vaughn, Richmond, Va.; George De Grave, Brooklyn, N. Y.; Seth Henhaws, Post-Master, New Salem; John C. Stanley, New Berne; Lewis Sheridan, Elizabethtown, N. C.; Joseph Hughes, Richmond, Va.; and others.
The Rights of All suspended publication in 1830, it having been conducted under more opposing circumstances than The Freedom's Journal, owing, possibly, to the great amount of good it was doing for the cause of Abolition. The exact date of its suspension it seems impossible to ascertain.
Mr. Russwurm's career as an Afro-American journalist, was soon cut short after the suspension of his paper. He was captured by the Colonization Society and sent to Africa. Many notices and comments on Mr. Russwurm's work and upon him as a man, appeared in The Colonization Journal of 1839.
THE WEEKLY ADVOCATE.
AFRO-AMERICANS North began now to feel the need of an exponent of sentiment and thought. The road had been opened, if any one by dint of sacrifice and strength of effort would lay all on the altar in the publication of another journal.
Phillip A. Bell, the Nestor of Afro-American journalism, came forward and put upon the uncertain wings of journalistic time a paper, which battled with unrelenting vigor for the right.
In January, 1837, appeared the first issue of the second journal edited by Afro-Americans under the name of The Weekly Advocate, the editor being Rev. Samuel E. Cornish, and the proprietor Mr. Phillip A. Bell. It was published by Mr. Robert Sears, of Toronto, Canada, a warm friend to the race. "After two months it was thought best," so informs Mr. Sears, to change the name of this paper to the Colored American; therefore March 4, 1837, it appeared under the last mentioned name.
The means to aid in its publication were largely contributed by Anti-Slavery Advocates, prominent among whom must be noticed that fearless and generous defender, Mr.Tappan. In "The Life of Mr. Tappan" occurs this passage: "The paper was intended to be the organ of the colored Americans." Its columns were filled with excellently selected and original matter It ably advocated the emancipation of the enslaved and the elevation of the free colored people; and to this end it urged on the whites the abolition of caste and on their own people a thorough education.
Gifted men among the people of New York and elsewhere, (and there were not a few of them,) had an opportunity that was well worth improving of addressing their people and the public at large, through the columns of this excellent paper.
The proprietor, Mr. Bell, was known and respected for the work he did for the race in the newspaper field. He was one of those men who not only gave his literary ability to the cause but his money also, and died in destitute circumstances, after fifty years of earnest and persistent work for his race.
At the time of his death he was more experienced, older, and abler, than any of his associates. He longed to see Afro-American journalism a fixed thing in this country, and he did not die without the sight.
Wm. Welles Brown, in his "Rising Sun," says, "Mr. Bell's enthusiastic admirers regarded him as the Napoleon of the Afro-American Press. The person of Mr. Bell, as described by Mr. Brown in his volume, is as follows: "He is medium in size, dark complexion, pleasing countenance, and very gentlemanly in his manners."
After the retirement of Mr. Cornish, Mr. Bell had as co-editor, Dr. James McCune Smith, of whom much has been said as a writer and contributor. Wm. Welles Brown, in chronicling the success of Dr. Smith as a writer, says: "The Doctor has contributed many papers to different journals published by colored men in the last quarter of the century. The New York dailies have also received aid from him during the same period. History, antiquity, biography, translation, criticism, political economy, statistics, and almost every department of knowledge, received attention from his able, ready, versatile and unwearied pen.
The emancipator of the slave, and of the elevation of the free colored people, has been the greatest slave of his time as a writer.
Dr. Smith was born and raised in New York City, but educated at Edinburgh. During the years 1838-49, he had some memorable newspaper controversies; prominent among them was the fight with Bishop Hughes and, later on, with one Grant.
A lecture of his on the "Destiny of the People of Color," delivered before the Philomathean Society and the Hamilton Society in January, 1841, and published by request, received flattering comments. He was one of the most logical and scientific writers the world ever knew.Besides this eminent gentleman, Mr. Bell had an able corps of correspondents, which made The Colored American felt as a power in the land. Mr. Bell severed his connection with The American in 1839; but did not leave the work, for which it seems the Maker had intended him. We shall have cause to notice him later on in this volume.
THE COLORED AMERICAN.
IN April, 1837, while Mr. Bell was yet proprietor and editorial writer of the American, Mr. Charles Bennett Ray became associated with The Colored American, as general agent. In this capacity, he travelled extensively, writing letters to the paper which embodied the result of his labors and reflections on the progress of the race in different parts of the country. He also lectured successfully in many cities, East and West, to bring before the people the interests of the paper and the noble aims to which it was devoted, never neglecting, meanwhile, to speak in behalf of the slave, whose welfare lay always near his heart.
In 1838, he became one of the proprietors of the paper; and in 1839, on the retirement of Mr. Bell, he assumed the position of editor. Under his charge, as before, The Colored American continued to be ably conducted, and strong in its advocacy of the principles underlying humanity and justice. He retained the editorial management until 1842, when the paper was discontinued. Rev. C. B. Ray was born in Falmouth, Mass., on Christmas-day, 1807. He was the son of Joseph Aspinwall Ray and Annie Harrington. His early education was received at the schools and academy of his native town. His theological training was obtained at the Wesleyan Academy at Wilbraham, Mass. Later on, he studied at the Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn.
In addition to his life as a useful journalist, should be recorded his life as a minister. He served as pastor of the Bethesda Congregational church in New York, and was its faithful shepherd for twenty years or more.
During the greater part of Mr. Ray's activity, slavery was at its highest state of agitation. The times were perilous, great deeds being enacted everywhere by noble champions of freedom, roused to action by an unquenchable love of justice and the resolve that all men should be free. He entered with eager earnestness into the contest to secure freedom for a down-trodden race, and proved his fidelity to the sacred cause of liberty, and his zeal in furthering the overthrow of slavery, by rendering practical aid. It often became necessary, therefore, to interest those whose hearts not only beat in unison with the movement but whose means could be made available. In co-operation with Lewis Tappan, and others whose purse-strings were wont to be loosed at the call of humanity, he assisted in enabling many a slave to see the light of freedom.
Mr. Ray always manifested a keen interest in the affairs of the government, and was a staunch republican, entering heartily into all things affecting the welfare of the government. When the great right of suffrage was accorded to his race, none rejoiced more than he that now the Afro-American citizen was truly a man, under the law; and, thenceforth, he uniformly endeavored to impart the knowledge of an intelligent use of the franchise to those whose limited experience in such matters might cause them to err in judgment.
He never ceased to give earnest support to any great measure designed to elevate his race; and not only in this way did he serve the people, but private matters were often brought to him for adjustment,—his natural grasp of the legal points of the subject enabling him to reach the solution of many a seemingly entangled situation.
He lived to see his race enjoying the blessings of that freedom to which he had consecrated his best days, and passed to the blessed fulfillment of a better world, on Sunday morning, August 15, 1886.
A general idea of The Colored American, which was Mr. Ray's greatest work for the race, issued, as it was, a half a century ago, in the interests of the Afro-American, under the editorial management of one of the race, will be obtained through the following extracts, embodying the plan and scope of the paper, and showing the rank it held among the leading journals of that time. It cannot fail of proper interest. They are taken from "In Memoriam," compiled by the family of the late Rev. Chas. B. Ray, March 7, 1840.
"Terms of the paper:
The Colored American is published weekly by Charles B. Ray, at No. 9 Spruce Street, New York, at two dollars per annum, in advance, excepting where a local agent will be responsible to collect the balance, when one-half may be received in advance.
No subscription received for a less term than six months.
No paper will be considered discontinued until arrearages are paid, except at the discretion of the publisher.
Four copies will be sent to one address for six dollars,—i. e. a person wishing the paper, by obtaining three subscribers, with the money in full, shall have his own paper.
Local agents shall be allowed one-fourth, in all cases, on all money raised from subscribers.
Traveling agents shall be allowed one-third on all new subscribers, and one-fourth for collecting from old ones.
Postmasters, and all ministers of the gospel, friendly to our object, are requested to act as agents for us; also, students in seminaries.
Addresses, in all cases, (post paid), on all business pertaining to the paper: "Charles B. Ray, Publisher of The Colored American."
Philadelphia depositories, where this paper can be had: 136 Lombard Sreet, and No. 2 Acorn Alley. S. H. Gloucester and J. J. G. Bias, Agents.
Prospectus of The Colored American, Volume II:
The Second Volume, New Series, of The Colored American, will be issued on the first Saturday in March, 1841.
This is the only paper in the United States, published and edited by a colored man, and expressly for the colored people.
Its objects are, more directly, the moral, social and political elevation and improvement of the free colored people; and the peaceful emancipation of the enslaved.
It will, therefore, advocate all lawful, as well as moral measures, to accomplish those objects.
The editor being a colored man, necessarily feels an interest in the welfare of the colored people, wherever found.
The paper, therefore, will not be regardless of the welfare of the colored people of other countries.
The editor, also being a Man, "whatever interests man, interests him." The paper, therefore, will not pass by, in silence, the reforms of the age, and whatever relates to our common humanity.
As the paper is devoted primarily to the interests of the colored population, and ought to be in every family, the editor intends to make it a first-rate family paper, devoting a column to the instruction of children, giving the general news of the day, as far as practicable, etc.; and nothing of an immoral tendency can find a place in its columns.
The paper ought to be patronized by the white community, to aid them in becoming better acquainted with the condition and claims of their fellow-citizens, and on account of the influence it will exert among the latter, and in their behalf.
The colored population ought to patronize it, because it belongs to them, and for the sake of its success.
Price, Two Dollars per annum, always in advance. No subscription received for a less term than six months.
Charles B. Ray, Editor and Proprietor, No. 9 Spruce Street, New York.
The sentiments of the press are here given concerning the re-appearance of The Colored American, after a short term of suspension. Says The American,—"We insert, once for all, the sentiments of the press in relation to our re-appearance among them; and our readers must not attribute to us motives of vanity in doing so,—for better things move us than a vain show. We intend to keep self where it should be, out of sight.
In combating the prejudices of the strong, on the one hand, and in defending the character of the weak, on the other; in advocating an unpopular cause, and coming in contact with such a variety of mind and of taste, and in bearing up under our present duties and responsibilities, in such times as these, such sentiments from an enlightened and judicious corps-editorial are encouraging, and furnish us with additional testimony that we are not ill-timed and out of place but needful, and deserve a place among the mouthpieces of different sects, parties and classes now existing.
We presume our readers, who do not see these expressions of opinion as we do, will be glad to know what the press has said about us; and we think such sentiments will both encourage and stimulate them to be vigilant in giving us aid as they incite us to labor to show ourselves worthy to be sustained."
"The Colored American, we are glad to see, has re-appeared in the field, under the conduct of our enterprising and talented Brother Ray. It will maintain a very handsome rank among the anti-slavery periodicals, and we hope will be well sustained and kept up by both colored and uncolored patronage.
It must be a matter of pride to our colored friends, as it is to us, that they are already able to vindicate the claims our enterprise has always made in their behalf,—to an equal intellectual rank in this heterogeneous, (but "homogeneous") community.
It is no longer necessary for abolitionists to contend against the blunder of pro-slavery,—that the colored people are inferior to the whites; for these people are practically demonstrating its falseness. They have men enough in action now, to maintain the anti-slavery enterprise, and to win their liberty, and that of their enslaved brethren,—if every white abolitionist were drawn from the field: McCune Smith, and Cornish, and Wright, and Ray, and a host of others,—not to mention our eloquent brother, Remond, of Maine, and Brother Lewis who is the stay and staff of field anti-slavery in New Hampshire.
The people of such men as these cannot be held in slavery. They have got their pens drawn, and tried their voices, and and they are seen to be the pens and voices of human genius; and they will neither lay down the one, nor will they hush the other, till their brethren are free.
The Calhouns and Clays may display their vain oratory and metaphysics, but they tremble when they behold the colored man is in the intellectual field. The time is at hand, when this terrible denunciation shall thunder in their own race.—Herald of Freedom, Concord, N. H."
The Colored American.
The Colored American after a suspension of three months has started afresh, under the charge of our friend, Charles B. Ray, as sole editor and proprietor. If among the four hundred thousand free colored people in this country,—to say nothing of the white population from whom it ought to receive a strong support, a living patronage for this paper can not be obtained, it will be greatly to their reproach.
In their present condition, a special organ of their own conducted by one of their own number, ought to be regarded by them as an object of great importance. True, it does not follow that because the paper is called The Colored American, and is edited by a colored man, therefore the colored population are under obligation to support it; for if it be not in itself a faithful and useful journal, it cannot claim support, on any other grounds. But we have confidence in the ability, perseverance, and integrity of Mr. Ray, and we doubt not, that he will make The American an interesting sheet.
If any persons, white or colored, in this city, desire to become subscribers to it, we will forward their names with great pleasure.
The names of several persons are published who have severally pledged five, ten, twenty, and twenty-five dollars, in aid of The American. This looks like being in earnest.
In the midst of the present unhappy divisions in our ranks, we trust our friend Ray will be enabled to distinguish by intuition the true from the spurious, the right from the wrong, and to utter his convictions in a true and fearless spirit."—Liberator.
"The Colored American. Returning from the country, we are glad to find upon our table several copies of this excellent paper, which has waked up with renewed strength and beauty. It is now under the exclusive control of Charles B. Ray, a gentleman in every manner competent to the duties devolving upon him in the station he occupies. Our colored friends generally, and all those who can do so, would bestow their patronage worthily by giving it to The Colored American."—Christian Witness.
"In the days when The Colored American found its way into many homes, bearing the weight of influence ever exerted by the press, some of the vital questions claiming public attention did not differ materially from those that serve to interest the thinking community of to-day, as will be evidenced by the following editorials:
"Prejudice," said a noble man, "is an aristocratic hatred of humble life."
Prejudice, of every character, and existing against whom it may, is hatred. It is a fruit of our corrupt nature, and has its being in the depravity of the human heart. It is sin.
To hate a man, for any consideration whatever, is murderous; and to hate him, in any degree, is, in the same degree murderous; and to hate a man for no cause whatever, magnifies the evil. "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer," says Holy Writ.
There is a kind of aristocracy in our country, as in nearly all others,—a looking down with disdain upon humble life and a disregard of it. Still, we hear little about prejudice against any class among us, excepting against color, or against the colored population of this Union, which so monopolizes this state of feeling in our country that we hear less of it in its operations upon others, than in other countries. It is the only sense in which there is equality; here, the democratic principle is adopted, and all come together as equals, and unite the rich and the poor, the high and the low, in an equal right to hate the colored man; and its operations upon the mind and character are cruel and disastrous, as it is murderous and wicked in itself. One needs to feel it, and to wither under its effects, to know it; and the colored men of the United States, wherever found, and in whatever circumstances, are living epistles, which may be read by all men in proof of all that is paralyzing to enterprise, destructive to ambition, ruinous to character, crushing to mind, and painful to the soul, in the monster, Prejudice. For it is found equally malignant, active, and strong,—associated with the mechanical arts, in the work-shop, in the mercantile house, in the commercial affairs of the country, in the halls of learning in the temple of God, and in the highways and hedges. It almost possesses ubiquity; it is everywhere, doing its deleterious work wherever one of the proscribed class lives and moves.
Yet prejudice against color, prevalent as it is in the minds of one class of our community against another, is unnatural, though habitual. If it were natural, children would manifest it with the first signs of consciousness; but with them, all are alike affectionate and beloved. They have not the feeling, because it is a creature of education and habit.
While we write, there are now playing at our right, a few steps away, a colored and a white child, with all the affection and harmony of feeling, as though prejudice had always been unknown.
Prejudice overlooks all that is noble and grand in man's being. It forgets that, housed in a dark complexion is, equally and alike, with the white, all that is lofty in mind and noble in soul; that there lies an equal immortality. It teaches to grade mind and soul, either by the texture of the hair, or the form of the features, or the color of the skin. This is an education fostered by prejudice; consequently, an education almost universally prevalent in our country; an education, too, subverting the principles of our humanity, and turning away the dictates of our noble being from what is important, to meaner things."
This Country, our only Home.
"When we say, "our home," we refer to the colored community. When we say, "our only home," we speak in a general sense, and do not suppose but in individual cases some may, and will, take up a residence under another government, and perhaps in some other quarter of the globe. We are disposed to say something upon this subject now, in refutation of certain positions that have been assumed by a class of men, as the American people are too well aware, and to the reproach of the Christian church and the Christian religion, too, viz.: that we never can rise here, and that no power whatsoever is sufficient to correct the American spirit, and equalize the laws in reference to our people, so as to give them power and influence in this country.
If we cannot be an elevated people here, in a country the resort of almost all nations to improve their condition; a country of which we are native, constituent members; our native home, (as we shall attempt to show) and where there are more means available to bring people into power and influence, and more territory to extend to them than in any other country; also the spirit and genius of whose institution we so well understand, being completely Americanized, as it will be found most of our people are,—we say, if we can not be raised up in this country, we are at great loss to know where, all things considered, we can be.
If the Colored Americans are citizens of this country, it follows, of course, that, in the broadest sense, this country is our home. If we are not citizens of this country, then we cannot see of what country we are, or can be, citizens; for Blackstone, who is quoted, we believe, as the standard of civil law, tells us that the strongest claim to citizenship is birthplace. We understand him to say, that in whatever country or place you may be born, of that country or place you are, in the highest sense, a citizen; in fine, this appears to us to be too self-evident to require argument to prove it.
Now, probably three-fourths of the present colored people are American born, and therefore American citizens. Suppose we should remove to some other country, and claim a foothold there, could we not be rejected on the ground that we were not of them, because not born among them? Even in Africa, identity of complexion would be nothing, neither would it weigh anything because our ancestry were of that country; the fact of our not having been born there would be sufficient ground for any civil power to refuse us citizenship. If this principle were carried out, it would be seen that we could not be even a cosmopolite, but must be of nowhere, and of no section of the globe. This is so absurd, that it is as clear as day that we must revert to the country which gave us birth, as being, in the highest sense, citizens of it.
These points, it appears to us, are true, indisputably true. We are satisfied as to our claims as citizens here, and as to this being the virtual and destined home of colored Americans.
We reflect upon this subject now, on account of the frequent agitations, introduced among us, in reference to our emigrating to some other country, each of which embodies more or less of the colonizing principle, and all of which are of bad tendency, thowing our people into an unsettled state; and turning away our attention from vital matters which involve our attention in this country, to uncertain things under another government, and evidently putting us back. All such agitations introduced among us, with a view to our emigrating, ought to be frowned upon by us, and we ought to teach the people that they may as well come here and agitate the emigration of the Jays, the Rings, the Adamses, the Otises, the Hancocks, et al, as to agitate our removal. We are all alike constituents of the same government, and members of the same rising family. Although we come up much more slowly, our rise is to be none the less sure. This subject is pressed upon us, because we not unfrequently meet some of our brethren in this unsettled state of mind, who, though by no means colonizationists, yet adopt the colonization motto, and say they can not see how or when we are going to rise here. Perhaps, if we looked only to the selfishness of man, and to him as absolute, we should think so, too. But while we know that God lives and governs, and always will; that He is just, and has declared that righteousness shall prevail; and that one day with Him is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day; we believe that, despite all corruption and caste, we shall yet be elevated with the American people here.
It appears to us most conclusive, that our destinies in this country are for the better, not for the worse, in view of the many schemes introduced to our notice for emigrating to other countries having failed; thus teaching us that our rights, hopes, and prospects, are in this country; and it is a waste of time and of power to look for them under another government; and also, that God, in His providence, is instructing us to remain at home, where are all our interests and claims, and to adopt proper measures and pursue them, and we yet shall participate in all the immunities and privileges the American nation holds out to her citizens, and be happy. We are also strongly American in our character and disposition.
We believe, therefore, in view of all the facts, that it is our duty and privilege to claim an equal place among the American people; to identify ourselves with American interests, and to exert all the power and influence we have, to break down all the disabilities under which we labor, and thus look to become a happy people in this extensive country."
Thus Editor Ray was no dupe in the editorial fight that he made for his race. He successfully made The American a paper that will be known for ages as a bold and uncompromising fighter for freedom.
We will not invite the reader to any comment of ours upon the character and ability of Mr. Ray as a journalist, or upon the influence and magnitude of the work done by his paper. Any remarks would be lost in the ocean of comments by others, some of which are here quoted. We give what recognized historians say of Mr. Ray: "In the year of 1839, he became the editor of The Colored American, a paper which he conducted with signal ability. The Colored American was well conducted, had the confidence of the public, and was distinguished for the ability shown in its editorials, as well as in its correspondence."
In another place Mr. Brown says: "All, however, who remember as far back as thirty-five years, will bear testimony to the efficient work done by The Colored American, and to the honor that is due to its noble founder." He is an original and subtile writer, having fine powers to analyze, and often flings the sparkling rays of a vivid imagination over the productions of his pen. His articles are usually of a practical nature, always trying to remove evils, working for the moral, social, and political elevation of his race. He was always true to the cause of the Southern slave, and the elevation of the black man, everywhere."
Another writer says: "Dr. Ray is a terse and vigorous writer, well informed upon all subjects of the day."
The American suspended publication in the early part of 1842, having made a brilliant record and opened a comparatively easy road for future efforts in Afro-Americanjournalism.
THE time for decisive, urgent, and unceasing fight for freedom and citizenship, from 1838 on, seems to have taken firm root in the mind and heart of every leading Afro-American, whose intelligence and practical knowledge enabled him to engage in the contest in anything like an effectual way.
This is seen in the ways and means established, through which they could express themselves. New York state appears to have been the great fighting-ground of the Afro-American abolitionists. Not only in New York, but throughout the whole section of New York state, papers were established, here and there, for the purpose of agitating Afro-American freedom and citizenship.
A small but bright and newsy sheet, under the title of The Elevator, was established at Albany, N. Y., in 1842. This journal, as were the others, was devoted to the Anti-Slavery cause and to the interests and progress of the Afro-Americans. It was published by Stephen Myers, whose efforts made it a strong advocate of everything looking to the advancement and up-building of the Afro-American.
Mr. Myers was born at Hoosic Four Corners, Rensselaer County, N. Y., in 1800. He was a slave of Gen. Warren, of Revolutionary fame, and made free by him, in the city of Albany, at the age of eighteen. He was a man of very limited education, but of great natural gifts. He was both an orator and a writer.
In the publication of his paper and the make-up of subject-matter, he was greatly aided by his wife, who was a lady of education and refinement. Before marriage, she was a Miss Harriet Johnson, the daughter of Capt. Abram Johnson. She aided her husband in the preparation of all his editorials, she, too, having caught the Abolition spirit. In the publication of his journal, Mr. Myers was backed by Horace Greeley, Gerrit Smith, Erastus Corning of Albany, N. Y., Henry J. Raymond, Hugh Hastings, Thurlow Weed, William Cassidy, and Peter Cagger.
Mr. Myers conducted his paper purely in the interest of the abolition of slavery and in the interest of his race, and never for the purpose of making money. The above-named gentlemen, and many others, aided him with contributions from time to time; and they were largely instrumental in enabling him to circulate his journal throughout the country. Although it did not appear regularly, nevertheless it was a potent factor in aiding him to make his work effective.
The cause of Abolition was supposed by many able men and influential newspapers; but by none with more earnestness and self-sacrificing devotion than that which characterized the life of Stephen Myers. The Elevator, like many other journals of its class, proved a powerful lever in diverting public opinion, public sympathy, and public support, towards the liberation of the slave. It seems almost incredible that Mr. Myers, with no education, could have accomplished so great a work. Nothing but unceasing labor and unwavering vigilance could have made him so successful. Impressed by these qualifications, those at whose hands he sought and obtained assistance were ever ready to respond to his appeals. True, there were many other men like Mr. Myers engaged in the same glorious work; but he seems to have had more than ordinary success in accomplishing anything he attempted, to strengthen the mission to which he consecrated his life.
Wherever and whenever he attended Anti-slavery gatherings, he was an effective and even powerful speaker; and no one could listen to him without becoming a warm supporter of his cause.
Meanwhile, The Elevator found its way into the homes of several thousands of patriotic citizens of all races, molding Anti-slavery sentiments in its ceaseless efforts to arouse the American people to a sense of their duty to exterminate from our land a condition of affairs wholly inconsistent with the sublime principles of a republican form of government.
Happily, Mr. Myers lived to see slavery abolished, the Union restored, the Fifteenth Amendment attached to the Constitution of the Nation, and, best of all, the barriers of prejudice gradually weaken their hold upon commercial and professional circles.
He was also permitted to see the Afro-American, the shackled and despised being whom "man's inhumanity to man" had made a chattel, take his initial step in the pathway of ideal American citizenship, unfettered and free; while the cloud of darkness which had enveloped him for two centuries, gave way to the sunshine of education, with opportunities to reach any point in the path of success which nature intended for him.
The last days of Mr. Myers were a fitting end to a life that future generations can but be pleased to admit was crowned with glory and splendor, by his magnificent achievements in behalf of his fellow-men; and connected with his name will always be a lustre and a sanctity, which is the certain reward of an honorable, upright life.
"Press on! press on! nor doubt nor fear,
From age to age this voice shall cheer—
Whate'er may die, and be forgot,
Work done for Freedom dieth not."
THE NATIONAL WATCHMAN AND CLARION.
THE state of New York still gave evidence of her Afro-American sons' interest in the Abolition cause.
Still another messenger of warfare was issued from another portion of the state, under the title of The National Watchman. This paper was first published in Troy, in the latter part of 1842, having as its publisher and editor, Mr. William G. Allen, assisted by Henry Highland Garnett. His paper had but a very brief existence; however, it contended manfully for what its projectors hoped to see, and for what their souls desired.
Mr. Allen was among the few men of his time who could be looked upon as a highly educated gentleman. Into his paper he put all the intellectual strength his mighty brain could master, which made it no less able as an advocate than any of its contemporaries. In this brief period, he conducted his publication with journalistic tact and energy. In his editorial work he was assisted by one of the brainiest and most successful black men in the country.Mr. Garnett, after his connection with the Watchman, and while he was pastor of the Liberty-Street Presbyterian Church of Troy, published The Clarion. This paper, while not failing to treat the most momentous of questions—American Slavery—with weighty argument and skillful debate, was run, we are informed, mostly in the interest of the religious and moral improvement of his race, to whose wellfare he was wedded.
As one puts it,—"Mr. Garnett was a remarkable man." He was as telling a speaker, as he was a writer. A gentleman of ability and worth sums him up in the following manner: "He has gained the reputation of being a courteous and accomplished man, an able and eloquent debater, and a good writer."
THE PEOPLE'S PRESS AND THE MYSTERY.
THE Clarion was followed next by an effort at journalism in the publication of The People's Press, by Thomas Hamilton and John Dias, about 1843. This publication, like many succeeding ones, lasted only a few months.
Mr. Hamilton was book-keeper in the office of The Evangelist, at the time when a desire to be an editor first took control of him, which desire resulted in the publication of The Press.
There is a belief among some that this paper, for a while before its suspension, was known as The Anglo-African, but this must not in any way be connected with the later publication of "Hamilton's Magazine," and a paper known also as Anglo-African. Further mention will be made of Mr. Hamilton in a succeeding chapter.
The Afro-Americans, at this stage, evidently caught inspiration, wherever settled in the North, as to the duty of the hour. Those who were able, intellectually, found it their imperative duty to agitate through the medium of the Press, for but little could be accomplished by means of speech; even at the North.
Not only was New York the garden-spot for journalistic fruit, but Pennsylvania also occupies a place on that record. In 1843, when the interest of every man at the North had been stirred up on the slave question, the Afro-Americans of Pittsburgh, not unlike their friends in New York, desired and sought to publish letters in their behalf, but could find no means of expression. Their pleas to the white publishers of papers were not heeded. This prompted Major Martin R. Delaney to publish a weekly sheet in the early part of the year, under the title of The Mystery, which was devoted solely to the interest of his race.
As we have seen in preceding chapters, and as is generally thought at this writing, Afro-American papers were always lacking support. The most pretentious newspapers, run strictly on business principles, would be hardly able to live upon the support the race offers.
While Mr. Delaney put ability, money and business spirit into his paper, yet it survived as personal property only nine months, when it was transferred to a joint-stock company of six gentlemen, he being retained as editor.
Mr. Delaney was an editor of attractive power. His friends who now live are loud in their praises of his editorial ability. A writer says—"The editorials of his journal elicited praises from even his enemies, and were frequently transferred to their columns."
To his editorial influence is due the originating of the Avery fund. He was the only editor from 1827 to '70, to our knowledge, who was ever arrested for what his enemies would term libel; certainly he was the first. A verdict of guilty was rendered in the suit for libel, and he was fined. Mr. Delaney stood well with his newspaper friends. They were loud in praises of him and his editorial work; and upon the occasion of the suit for libel, this was fully exemplified; for as soon as they found out the court had fined him, they proceeded immediately to start a subscription paper to pay the fine. Happily, it had been remitted and the money was not needed.
Mr. Delaney was a physician of great skill. He was among the first Afro-Americans to graduate from Harvard College. He championed the cause of the Afro-Americans for four years through The Mystery, which suspended publication in 1847. This connection with The Mystery, was his first appearance in public life.
Mr. Brown, in his "Lives of Representative Men and Women," says—"His journal was faithful in its advocacy of the rights of man, and had the reputation of being a well-conducted sheet."
Dr. Delaney died January 24, 1885, after living a useful life seventy odd years.
THE GENIUS OF FREEDOM.
SHORTLY after this, another effort at Afro-American journalism was made in the publication of The Genius of Freedom, issued some time between 1845 and 1847, with Mr. David Ruggles as editor and publisher. The exact date of the commencement of this paper is not known, the writer having exhausted all resources to find out.
Ruggles also published contemporaneously with The Colored American a quarterly magazine, under the style and title of "The Mirror of Liberty," which we shall notice in another chapter.
It is safe to conclude that The Genius of Freedom was not published until after the suspension of Mr. Ruggles' Magazine in 1841, and prior to the establishment of The North Star, at Rochester, N. Y., in 1847. This paper, while edited for the interest of the Afro-American, did not survive a long life. It was soon gathered into its projectors' arms, however, with the knowledge of its having done something for an oppressed people. Thus, little is known of it by any one save the most careful observer of men, times and events.
Mr. Ruggles was a highly educated gentleman, refined in manners. He was one of the first promoters of the Underground Railroad, and was one who stood by it in times of peril. He was a terror to the Southerner; but a friend to his brethren in the South. He labored for his people with unfaltering trust.
He was the most logical writer of his time; indeed, there are few now of the craft who can excel our subject in the editorial field where logic and argument have most power. He was a quick and ready writer, his articles being of that nature befitting the time and occasion.
Wm. Welles Brown, in his "Rising Sun," says,—"The first thing ever read, coming from the pen of a colored man, was D. M. Reese, M. D., used up by David Ruggles, a man of color. Dr. Reese was a noted colonizationist, and had written a work, in which he advocated the expatriation of the blacks from the American continent. Mr. Ruggles' work was a reply to it. In this argument, the Afro-American proved too much for the Anglo-Saxon, and exhibited in Mr. Ruggles those qualities of keen perception, deep thought, and originality, that mark the critic and the man of letters.
Mr. Ruggles was an editor of the indomitable stamp. He was respected by all of his constituents, as an able and fearless advocate.
Hon. Frederick Douglass says of Mr. Ruggles,—"He was not only an intelligent man, but one of the bravest and boldest spirits of the times. John J. Zuille of New York, says,—"He was a man of profound ability and force of character. During most of his active public life, he was the soul of the Under-ground Railroad in New York City, respected as an editor, and in the courts of New York for his intimate knowledge of law in slave cases." Another says,—"He was a keen and witty writer, sending his arrows directly at his opponent."
The most striking characteristic of Mr. Ruggles, with regard to his work and his time, is that he was of unmixed blood, which clearly showed the possibilities of a race of people, some of whom were slaves and others free but without the right of franchisement, and with no means of elevation.
The Genius of Freedom, as has been said, was short-lived. However, Mr. Ruggles' journalistic career numbered through several years, the rest of which will be noted in a succeeding chapter.
It is highly probable that his life, in this respect, would have been longer, had he not been overtaken with blindness. He died in 1849, highly respected and esteemed and with a popularity which not many of his race enjoy to-day.
THE RAM'S HORN.
IN New York, before the war, there was embodied in the Constitution of that state a clause relating to the voting qualifications of the Afro-American, which was called the "Colored Clause." It was to the effect, that no Afro-American could have the right of suffrage who was not actually worth two hundred and fifty dollars of real estate, accurately rated and taxes paid thereon; while any white man of twenty years, without a foot of land, could vote. The fact of such a law existing, many intelligent and level-headed Afro-Americans were deprived of a just right; while his white brother, in many cases not so capable as the other, was allowed it.
As the Afro-Americans became more and more intelligent and able to see and discern events of a public nature, and capable to sit in judgment upon matters of public concern to them, sentiment among their fellows with regard to this injustice arose to such a height, that the more thoughtful and efficient of the race met in New York city, sometime between 1845 and '47, to take into consideration this special feature of injustice. The result was a unanimous decision to petition the legislature to eliminate the word "color," and have every man to vote on the same terms and conditions. The legislature, after some fighting, decided to leave the matter with the voters, who were to vote Yes or No, on the question. Now was the most favorable opportunity for the publication of an Afro-American journal; but there was not one then issued in the land.
About this time, Mr. Willis A. Hodges, a man full of zeal and devotion for his race, enthused by utterances from the editorial columns of The New York Sun calling on the voters to vote "No," prepared an article in answer to these utterances, and sought space for the same in The Sun's columns.
Mr. Hodges' article was published for a fifteen-dollar consideration; but its sentiment was modified, and it was published in the advertising columns. Mr. Hodges upon inquiry relative to the alteration of his article and the manner of its publication, was told—"The Sun shines for all white men, and not for colored men." He was also told if he wished the Afro-American cause advocated, he would have to publish a paper himself for the purpose.
Right here, Mr. Hodges, as was the case of all his friends with whom he consulted, saw the irreparable loss his people had sustained by the suspension of Afro-American newspapers, formerly published in New York.
As has been said, there was not a paper published by an Afro-American, at this time, in the Union. Mr. Hodges, being a man of energy, public-spirited and to the manor born, hastily came to the conclusion that one should be published in New York city by Afro-Americans. He consulted with leading Afro-Americans who had been interested in former publications, only to be discouraged. All seemed to be seeking personal ends, and not what, at this time, demanded the closest attention of their leading minds.
Finally, Mr Hodges met with an old friend, Thomas Van Rensselaer, with whom he formed a co-partnership. This was done in October, 1846, at which meeting they also decided upon The Ram's Horn, as a title for the paper.
There was no money in hand to make the first issue. It was agreed that Mr. Hodges should furnish the finances and contribute editorially, while Mr. Van Rensselaer was to be the business manager.
It is amusing, as well as interesting, to recall what Mr. Hodges himself has to say about it: "I had not one dollar of my own for the paper; but as white-washing was a good business in New York, I went to work at it, and in two months I had nearly all the money that was necessary to get out the first number; and I can truly say that I furnished every dollar that started The Ram's Horn, and wrote the first article that was published in its columns."
To the surprise of many, on the first day of January, 1847, three thousand copies of The Ram's Horn were gotten out, with the significant motto,—"We are men, and therefore interested in whatever concerns men."
It was published in the second story of 141 Fulton Street, the price of subscription being $1.50 to persons living in New York, and $1.00 to those who received it by mail.
The paper was well received, though it met with some opposition on the part of Afro-Americans in the Metropolis, and was published until dissension arose among its projectors.
It was edited by Messrs. Hodges and Van Rensselaer, assisted by Frederick Douglass. Mr. Douglass, while he did little writing for The Ram's Horn, was then so highly popular, that no paper was considered of much importance without the name of Douglass connected with it. He was probably to Afro-American journalism of that day, what Bill Nye and are to the journalism of their day. The Ram's Horn was well distributed. At one time it had upon its books two thousand five hundred subscribers. Of course, these were enough to support several journals of its size, but few of them represented fully paid subscriptions.
The Ram's Horn was greatly aided in living by such men as John Brown, who was a supporter and contributor, and whose sympathy was gained by the publication of Mr. Hodges treatment in Virginia.
The Ram's Horn was as neatly printed, and presented as pleasing a journalistic look, as any paper published at that time. It was a five-column folio, printed on both sides with original matter, and was full in every issue with anti-slavery sentiment from the editors, as well as from able contributors.
The writer of this, especially, was attracted by the clean-cut logic of an editorial, written by Mr. Hodges on one occasion, entitled,—"The South Land Again."
We put Mr. Hodges down as a man of prolific brain, good practical sense, and sound reasoning faculties. In fact, the articles of The Ram's Horn, in general, were noted for their readableness and force of character.
Vol. I, No. 43, November 5, 1847, which we have before us, contains a reply of a correspondent to the following clause of a circular sent out by Rev. Alexander Crummell, dated April 19, 1846:
"The rising anti-slavery feeling of the North confines itself almost entirely to the interests and rights of the white race, with an almost utter disregard of the Afro-Americans; which tendency is dangerous to us and should be changed."
It also contained other interesting articles, which space forbids us to mention here.
After The Ram's Horn had been published eighteen months, a dissension arose which resulted in Mr. Hodges retiring from the paper, leaving Mr. Van Rensselaer as editor and owner. It is due Mr. Hodges to say he left The Ram's Horn free of debt.
Hodges, while crude in his English, was one of the most sagacious and practical men of his time. He was the soul of The Ram's Horn, though little credit has been given him by some who comment on Afro-American journalism. He now resides at Norfolk, Va., a trusted citizen.
The Rams Horn appeared only once with Mr. Van Rensselaer as editor and owner, when it fell asleep in June, 1848. It, however, had done good work for the race, in whose special interests it was run.
Mr. Van Rensselaer, while a very indiscreet man, was a brave and undaunted advocate of the equal rights of the Afro-American in the United States. T. T. Fortune, in writing an article on Afro-American journalism for the holiday number of The New York Journalist, takes his subject "From The Ram's Horn." He comments on The Ram's Horn as follows: "Before the war, few newspapers were published by Afro-Americans. Here and there, a man more intelligent, more venturesome, more affluent than his fellows, turned to journalism as the most effective means of pleading for the abolition of slavery; but his funds would be soon wasted and the issue of his paper would be stopped."
It was thus with The Ram's Horn, and its service must not be forgotten.
THE NORTH STAR.
THE suspension of The Ram's Horn did not leave the Afro-Americans entirely without an organ. Vol. I, No. 43, of The Ram's Horn contained the following prospectus for an anti-slavery organ at Rochester, N. Y.: "Prospectus for an Anti-slavery paper, to be entitled—"The North Star:
Frederick Douglass proposes to publish in Rochester, New York, a weekly anti-slavery paper with the above title. The object of The North Star will be to attack slavery in all its forms and aspects; advocate Universal Emancipation; exact the standard of public morality; promote the moral and intellectual improvement of the colored people; and to hasten the day of freedom to our three million enslaved fellow-countrymen.
The paper will be printed on a double medium sheet, at $2.00 per annum, if paid in advance, and $2.50 if payment be delayed over six months.
The names of subscribers can be sent to the following persons, and should be forwarded, as far as practicable, by the first of November, proximo.
The following are the agents: Frederick Douglass, Lynn, Mass,; Samuel B. —————, Salem, Ohio; M. R. Delaney, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Val Nicholson, Harrisburg, Ohio; Mr. Walcott, Boston, Mass.; J. P. Davis, Economy, Indiana; Christian Donaldson, Cincinnati, Ohio; J. M. M. Rinn, Philadelphia, Pa,; Amaraney Paine, Providence, R. I.; Mr. Gay, New York."
The North Star was issued the first day of November, 1847. It and The Ram's Horn were contemporaries.
The editor of The Star being head and shoulders above many of his colleagues, his paper was readily accepted as one of the most formidable enemies to American Slavery. Its aims and purposes, as set forth in the prospectus, drew to it good support from those of the whites who favored Abolition.
The North Star was conducted on a much higher plane than any of the preceding publications. Mr. Douglass had, by his eloquent appeals in behalf of the Abolition cause, created a wide spread sentiment, and he was known as an orator. While much of his time was spent on the rostrum in behalf of Abolition, yet many say his best and most effective work for freedom was as editor, in the publication of The Star at Rochester, New York.
Mr. Douglass was what is hard to find in any one man,—a good speaker, as well as an effective, able, and logical writer. There is no man to-day who is a Douglass with the quill and upon the rostrum.
Previous to this publication, Mr. Douglass was not known as a writer; but he was afterward recognized as a great man in more than one sphere.
No writer ever expressed truth in better and more fitting language than did the man who said—"His (Mr. Douglass") boldness and superior journalistic ability won for him a world-wide reputation."
His power as a writer was large, while his ready and vigorous use of the English language was always effective and good.
We clip the following from The Rising Sun: "Frederick Douglass' ability as an editor and publisher has done more for the freedom and elevation of his race than all his platform appeals."
The commencement of the publication of The North Star was the beginning of a new era in the black-man's literature. Mr. Douglass' great fame gave his paper at once a place among the first journals of the country; and he drew around him a corps of contributors and correspondents from Europe, as well as from all parts of America and the West Indies, that made his columns rich with the current literature of the world.
While The North Star became a welcome visitor to the homes of the whites who had never before read a paper edited by an Afro-American, its proprietor became still more popular as a speaker in every state in the Union where Abolitionism was tolerated,
Of all his labors, we regard Mr. Douglass' efforts as publisher and editor the most useful to his race.
For sixteen years, against much opposition, single-handed and alone, he demonstrated the fact that the Afro-American was equal to the white man in conducting a useful and popular journal.
The paper was continued under the title of The North Star until, in 1850, its name was changed, and it was afterwards known as "Frederick Douglass' Paper."
But there was only a change in name; for the same principles, the same ability, and fight for Abolition, characterized its every movement.
In the publication and work incident to the paper, Mr. Douglass was assisted by his sons. This accounts, in a great measure, for their love of newspapers at this writing, and their connection, from time to time, with many different journals. Fred Douglass' Paper continued to be published until it was able to chronicle the emancipation of the slaves. It was then gathered into the arms of its promoters, having triumphed in the cause for which it so vigorously fought.
CONTEMPORARIES OF THE NORTH STAR.
BEGINNING with The North Star, journalism among Afro-Americans took a higher stand, and was of a more elevated plane than that previous to 1847.
About this time, the Abolition cause began to wax warm, and the fight was a vigorous one. In this condition of affairs the Afro-American could not have less interest than those among the other race who made many sacrifices for the sake of Abolition.
Upon the rostrum could be heard, all over the North, the voices of the abolitionists for the emancipation of the slave.
In this, the Afro-Americans enlisted. The matchless oratory of Frederick Douglass, John Remond, and others, was listened to in almost every section of the North, pleading for their brethren's freedom from oppression. This was seen to have been a necessary means of agitation.
It was also necessary that the press should be conducted by able and fearless advocates. It is true, Douglass had his Star, at Rochester; but other papers were needed to make the press heard in the hum of battle, in union with the musical voice of the orator; therefore, the Star should have its contemporaries.
Of these, some were of short and others were of long duration. The first of them was The Impartial Citizen, at Syracuse, N. Y., in 1848, published by Samuel Ward.
Mr. Ward was a very intelligent and sober man, and conducted his journal on a very lofty plane. He was as able as any other journalist since that time, and his publication was managed with as much shrewdness and practical ability as any of his day. By many he was regarded as an abler speaker than writer.
The principles for which the paper fought are indicated by its name. It clamored particularly for Afro-American citizenship at the North, and the freedom of the slave at the South.
Mr. Douglass, an able man himself, says—"To my mind, Mr. Ward was the ablest black man the country has ever produced." It follows that Mr. Ward must have been an able man.
The Citizen advocated, with convincing logic, political action against slavery. Though the paper had unfortunately but a brief existence, it gained for itself the reputation of being a spirited sheet. The editor of The North Star, which was a contemporary of The Citizen, says—"Mr. Ward was an educated man, and his paper was ably edited." This was an excellent effort at journalism.
There was now no Afro-American journal published in New York City. The Ram's Horn having been suspended in 1848, left the Afro-Americans in that city without any organ.
While journals, backed by men of brains, were springing up in other parts of the North, New York City contained, probably, a greater number of able black men, both speakers and writers than could be found elsewhere.Mr. Louis H. Putman, a man identified with all the Afro-American interests, began the publication of The Colored Man's Journal, in New York City. It was backed by a man of some financial strength, and therefore survived many a shock to which it must otherwise have succumbed. It was issued in 1851, and continued to be published during a period of ten years of stormy agitation, until the outbreak of the civil war.
As a writer, Mr. Putman was known very well. He, however, did little work as a speaker, save in his native town on matters of local interest. His main efforts were made through his paper. He was what might be termed a practical man, full of common sense, which he used abundantly in conducting his journal. No paper up to this time, save The Star, survived the existence of The Journal.
There is one feature about Mr. Putman's life as a writer which is very flattering. He never fought for anything he did not conceive to be right. He had his faults, as all men have; but he looked far and thought soberly before acting. A friend speaks thus of him: "Mr. Putman was a man full of historical facts, and possessed keen perceptive powers; and he was a good writer." His paper was neat in appearance, and exhibited, in its mechanical make-up, a knowledge of the higher order of journalism.
The next effort at journalism among the early contemporaries of The North Star was The Alienated American, edited by Prof. W. H. H. Day, which he published at Cleveland, Ohio, in 1852, in the interest of Abolition, immediately after he graduated from Oberlin, in 1847. The American was decidedly one of the best journals ever published, supported by a well-trained man, as well as of recognized ability. This paper was wholly devoted to the cause for which it was every Afro-American's pleasure to fight,—that of freedom. A man eminently able and thoughtful, says—"It rendered timely and efficient service in the cause of freedom and the elevation of the colored people in the state."
Mr. Day was a scholarly writer, of as much ability as any of that day; and since he still lives, with years of experience upon his head, it is safe to say there are very few now who are his equals at the editorial desk, To judge from historical accounts of Mr. Day and his journalistic life, it is indeed safe to say that then there were only a few in that department of life's work who could attain to his measure.
He is spoken of in The Rising Sun, as follows: "As a writer, Mr, Day is far above newspaper editors generally, exhibiting much care and thought in many of his articles. As a speaker and writer, he has done much for his race."
He is admitted to be among the few who, with Douglass, may justly claim the distinction of being a prolific writer.
The great secret of Mr, Day's success and triumphant ability as a writer is, that he had a finely stored memory, from which he could draw at will. The American was a paper that could be regarded as a creditable publication, and it realized a good support. It was the first paper that had ever been published in Ohio by an Afro-American for his race; and it is a matter of fact that an enthusiastic and hearty support was at once created for it.
The American suspended publication, for a while, before Mr. Day sailed for England, in 1856 and '57. There, he was recognized for his worth and scholarly training, his manner of deportment, and for his genuine eloquence in his preaching and lecturing. Some time after he returned, he embarked again in journalism, which we shall have occasion to refer to later on.
Mr. Day lives at Harrisburg, Pa., where he is yet engaged in toiling for his people. He is a preacher in the A. M. E. Zion church, and one of its best and brainiest men.
In 1887, Livingstone College, Rev. J. C. Price, President, gave him the degree of "D. D." The honor has never been conferred on one more worthy.
Truly he has helped to make the history of journalism bright and shining by his having been in it.
It must seem to the reader that now the Afro-Americans were of some consequence, for we see them rising on all sides, whenever allowed any freedom at all, aiming at the one great evil of slavery.
The work, as the reader will note, was not now confined to the state of New York or Pennsylvania, but was reaching into the far West and there getting foothold for a crusade for the right.
Another contemporary of The North Star was The Mirror of the Times, of which Hon. Mifflin W. Gibbs was one of the proprietors and editors. It was published in San Francisco, Cal., in 1855.
That The Mirror of the Times did much good work can not be denied by any one. It could not have been otherwise with the name of Judge Gibbs attached to it.
This journal was published for seven years, and nobly defended the race and fought for the common cause of Abolition, until, in 1862, it was merged into The Pacific Appeal.
The Times did excellent work, and the Afro-Americans of to-day feel proud of its efforts.
Judge Gibbs is at present Receiver of Public Moneys, at Little Rock, Ark.
Another excellent contemporary of The North Star was The Herald of Freedom, published in 1855 by Mr. Peter H. Clark. It was one of the best advocates of Abolition among the Afro-Americans, for the reason that it had an editor of good sense and vast knowledge, both natural and acquired. Mr. Clark was born in 1827.
There are possibly few men of our race who have lived, and now live, better known as of literary and intelligent worth than Mr. Clark, every person of importance giving him the credit of being an acute thinker.His journal had a very short existence, but it, no doubt, helped on the fight for a just principle, which was afterwards maintained.
Its name indicated a long-looked-for desire. It joined in the fight with a vim, and went to rest, doubtless, with the feeling that it had accomplished something.
After the suspension of The Herald of Freedom, in Ohio, Mr. Clark was associated with Mr. Douglass in the publication of The North Star. Upon the editorial staff of this paper he labored zealously.
The Star had already been actively battling for Abolition for some years, and with Mr. Clark's vigorous and pricking pen, its aims and purposes for triumph were greatly strengthened.
Respecting his contributions to The Star, a writer to the author quotes William Welles Brown as expressing his sentiment: "His articles were fresh, vigorous and telling."
Mr. Clark is one of the bright Afro-American minds, and the world has been made brighter and more attractive for his having lived in it.
Up to this time there had been no part taken by the Afro-American churches in the interest of Abolition, save, here and there, a few individual attempts. There seems to have been no organized effort among the churches; and nothing of a tangible nature was done to battle against the wrong.
This the members saw; and the A. M. E. Church, having had some years of existence, now made a very interesting and permanent stand in the North. The principles of the church, as taught by Richard Allen, were laid down with much power and strength.
The Press, an indispensable factor, was seen to be necessary here; and it was about this time (1856) that The Christian Recorder was established in Philadelphia, with Rev. Jabez Campbell, now Bishop Campbell, as editor.
It is hardly necessary for us to comment here upon the work of The Recorder, or to attempt to tell its history; for to every churchman The Christian Recorder is a familiar periodical.
It was established as the official organ of the A. M. E. Church, and has manfully fought the fight. Its heroic efforts
in the days of slavery for Abolition, are well known to the Afro-American student of times and events.
Rev. Campbell brought its editorial work to a high standard, which was carried even higher by succeeding editors.
Rev. Campbell resigned his position after a few years' service, and was succeeded by Rev. John M. Brown, who afterward became Bishop.
Mr. Brown kept up the high order of editorial work attained by Mr. Campbell. By these two gentlemen the standard was fixed, and the foundation laid for a more glorious service in the time of absolute freedom.
This brings us to 1868, when Rev. Benjamin T. Tanner took the editorial chair, which he occupied for sixteen years, during which time he made The Recorder an assured publication, giving it that distinction and prominence which it well deserved under his management.
In 1870, after Rev. Tanner had had control of The Recorder only two years, a man of eminence and high intellectual ability speaks thus of him and his paper: "As editor of The Recorder, he has written many witty, pithy, and brilliant sentiments. There is a tinge of opulent fancy running through his editorials, which always refreshes one. The wide reputation of his journal, outside of his own denomination, is probably the best test of his ability as a newspaper conductor." This can be said of his whole career.
Upon the establishment of a church magazine in 1884, Rev. Tanner was chosen editor, whereupon he resigned the editorship of The Recorder, when Rev. Dr. Lee was chosen as his successor.
As is known, Dr. Lee is one of the greatest Afro-American writers upon the continent of America, and with entire satisfaction to his race and his church he fills the responsible editorial chair of The Recorder. He is one of those who had to toil by the sweat of his brow for an education.
It is highly interesting to think of Dr. Lee as once having been the stable-man upon the Wilberforce University grounds, and of his return, after a few years, to be its President. The divine injunction that the first shall be last and the last shall be first, is fully illustrated in this case.
There is nothing harsh about Editor Lee's productions. He is rather an easy, mellifluous writer, and fully conversant with his church polity. It may safely be said that he is one of the most distinguished men of his race and church.
Bishop Coke's servant, and said by Dr. Rush, Bishop Asbury and others, to have been the greatest orator in America.
THE next marked effort in this field was in New York City, and was opportunely made.
Mr. Thomas Hamilton, of The Peoples Press fame, again dares to brave the storm in another publication, This time it was a decided success, reflecting credit upon his journalistic experience and his active brain. It was called The Anglo-African, and was one of the most powerful journals, irrespective of the color of the publisher, in the Abolition cause.
Published a few years before the war, it entered upon a heated period, which demanded fight,—fight to the bitter end.
Mr. Hamilton put every thing serviceable into his paper. He decided it should be a creditable and effective sheet, and to accomplish this he made many sacrifices, and flung to the breeze the first number of The African, (Vol. 1., No. 1.) July 23, 1859. It started with a high order of journalism, and occupied that elevated plane of Afro-American press work, inaugurated by The North Star.
Mr. Hamilton was, at this time, sole owner of the paper; but his brother Robert was associated with him in the editorial department. The Anglo-African was a most worthy paper. The publishers were men of great intellectual, as well as journalistic ability. The opinion of Mr. Douglass is—"It had more promise, and more journalistic ability about it, than any of the other papers."
It was a large sheet, of four pages, with seven columns to a page. These were larger than ordinary newspaper columns.
It had at their head the following:
The Weekly Anglo-African is published every Saturday by Thomas Hamilton, 43 Beekman Street, New York.
Terms of Subscription: Two dollars per year, or four cents per copy. Thus it went forth, and made a noble light for the Abolition cause.
Papers published at this time were watched with a criticising eye by almost every man among the white people. The editorial backing was closely observed, as well as the journalistic look of the paper.
This ordeal The Anglo-African was able to meet. Whenever weighed in the journalistic balances, it was not found wanting.
Mr. Thomas Hamilton, like his brother, was a man of superior ability, and of much experience in his profession. He was on The Evangelist for a long while, and had been one of the proprietors of The People's Press. Many are of the opinion that The Anglo-African was the better publication of the two. We will not venture the opinion that it was the best paper published, but we will say it was the largest.
The great, feature of The Anglo-African was, that it did not seek to make itself a paper whose matter should originate in the Hamilton family alone; and some of its contributors were known to embrace the best Afro-American talent of those days; the result being a genuine Afro-American newspaper.Hamilton was devoted to journalistic efforts, and proved eminently successful therein.
The motto of The Anglo-African was as significant as that of any paper ever published. It was—"Man must be free; if not through the law, then above the law." With this motto, it manfully contended for Afro-American freedom and citizenship.
Mr. Thomas Hamilton continued to be the owner and editor of The Anglo-African until it was bought by Mr. James Redpath, one of the old and substantial Abolitionists,—the object of his purchase being the advocating of the Haytian Emigration Movement; a project that seemed then to be the only hope for the Afro-Americans. This occurred in the early part of 1860.
After its purchase by Mr. Redpath, the paper was known as The Weekly Anglo-African, for a short time, when the following notice appeared in Vol. II, No. 13, May 11, 1861: The Anglo-African will appear next week under a new name—The Pine and Palm.
"What does it mean? Wait and you will see."
George Lawrence, Jr., Publisher.
While Mr. Redpath was owner, Mr. Lawrence seems to have done the work for him, and carried out his wishes with respect to the Haytian Emigration Movement. This Movement was pressed with earnestness by Mr. Redpath and by his representative, Mr. Lawrence, through The African, as well as The Pine and Palm.
The Anglo-African of March 23, 1861, Vol. II, No. 36, contained a full outline of the Movement, and some very pertinent and interesting articles on the feasibility of it.
Mr. Redpath, the General Agent, resided in Boston, and used The African, afterwards The Pine and Palm, as the surest medium through which the Afro-American could be reached.
The issue spoken of above also contained circulars setting forth the advantages of the Movement, signed by Mr. Redpath. We would insert them verbatim et literatim, as they appear in The African, but for the great consumption of space it would require. It kept up to the old landmark of journalistic enterprise, during the year it was published.
About August orof 1861, Mr. Redpath having resigned the position of Emigration Agent of the Haytian Movement, the paper reverted to the hands of one of the Hamiltons, this time being owned and edited by Mr. Robert Hamilton, Mr. Thomas Hamilton having died. It also resumed its original name, Anglo-African.
Mr. Hamilton was assisted in the editorial work by Rev. Henry Highland Garnett, who appears in the paper as "Editor of the Southern Department;" and who was interested in every good enterprise started during this perilous time in the interest of American Slavery. Under Mr. Robert Hamilton's management the paper increased in size, and the editorial dash of its columns was perceptibly quickened.
Mr. Garnett was a man of affairs, and contributed in a magnificent way to the brilliancy of the paper.
It was published at 50 Beekman Street, a part of the time, and then at 184 Church Street, New York City.
Much of the services of The Anglo-African, in these later days of its publication, was due to Mr. William G. Hamilton, son of the former owner and editor, who acted in the capacity of business manager.
Mr. Robert Hamilton was known throughout New York state, and, in fact, the Union, as an able writer; and his paper was recognized as an unflinching advocate of Republicanism, which he regarded the best friend of the slave. While an untiring advocate of Republican principles, he watched party actions with a vigilant eye, in order to detect any traitorous measure it might attempt to support.
The African also looked with a piercing eye to the educational interests of the freedmen in the South.—Vol. V, No. 5, September 9th, 1865, immediately after the Surrender, contains a most potent and well-timed article on the kind of education the freedmen should have, and the way in which he should be taught. The editorial was headed: "The Southern Field and the proper agents."
The following are the introductory words of the article:
"We notice an increasing solicitude among the whites, as to the influence likely to be exerted upon the freed brethren of those talented colored men who are now going South. This is quite natural, The whites are conscious of the fact that heretofore they have had the field all to themselves; that for patronage and perquisites they have taught what and how they pleased."
"It is reasonable and proper that colored men should feel that it is their mission now to enter this field and educate and elevate their freed brethren. This field is naturally ours, and is the only fair one we ever had for usefulness before. Moreover, the race to be educated and elevated is ours; therefore we are deeply interested in the kind of education it receives, etc."
The Anglo-African lived to see the Afro-American a freedman, and to enjoy the awarded—"Well done, good and faithful servant," in the Abolition fight.
It lived to see the Afro-American on the march to an intellectual position and to civil citizenship; and with this consciousness it died peacefully in the arms of its promoters.
The Hamiltons will be known as long as the cause for which men fought, mentally and physically, is remembered by their countrymen. Their names will be treasured in the archives of history in connection with that of Phillips, Garrison, and a phalanx of others, whose arms are stacked by the Jordan of eternal rest.
CONTEMPORARIES OF THE ANGLO-AFRICAN.
THE only paper we have heard of that was published by one of our race during the war, or that began publication during that period, was The Colored Citizen, at Cincinnati, by Mr. John P. Sampson. It was issued in the interest of the black soldiers, then fighting in the Civil War.
The Citizen was the only Afro-American war-policy paper published. It was generally known as the "Soldiers' Organ."
Many humane Christians at the North aided in the publication of this paper, and circulated thousands of copies of it among the Afro-American soldiers.
It was a successfully conducted sheet, having the tone of a journal whose mission was a high and lofty one.
Mr. Sampson was a man of eminent learning, having been sent North from his home in North Carolina to obtain an education, which he received in the schools of Boston.
He began work as a teacher in the public schools of New York, and so endeared himself to the hearts of his people and won the esteem of the nation, that when he entered upon this mission he gave a prestige to his paper which made it an ever-welcome visitor to many homes.
Mr. Welles Brown, who possibly knew more about the ability and work of the men of his times than most people, says—"Mr. Sampson was an able writer, etc.," which compliment speaks well for him.
John P. Sampson was as well known for his good deeds, and for his arduous work as editor in war and reconstruction times, as any man who ever espoused the Abolition cause.
He was an enterprising editor; which is much to say of a colored man of his profession at that time, for, usually, those so disposed were not suffered to exercise their ability in that direction.
His journal was an authority, owing to the fact that Mr, Sampson was a reliable man. He might be termed an impressive writer,—one whose thoughts in print would leave their lessons deeply stamped upon the reader's mind. His services as an editor and correspondent were largely sought. In addition to his duties in connection with The Citizen, he edited, through the mail, for a brief period, a paper at Louisville, Ky., which was owned by a joint-stock company. We have been unable to find out the name of this paper. The Citizen suspended publication in the latter part of 1865, having done great service in the West for the colored people.
The year 1862 brings us to the period when The Mirror of the Times, previously spoken of, changed hands, and was published as The Pacific Appeal, the proprietor being Mr. William H. Carter. It was because of this paper that Mr. Philip A. Bell left for the Pacific Coast to become its associate editor. The Appeal was also one of The Anglo-African's contemporaries. It was regarded as the official organ of the Afro-Americans on the Pacific Slope, at this time.
The following, which was found weekly in its columns as an advertisement of its aims and purposes, as well as a delineation of the principles for which it fought, will doubtless enlighten the reader as to its stand:
"The Pacific Appeal, established in 1862, is the immediate successor of The Mirror of the Times, which was established by colored men in San Francisco, in 1855.
The Pacific Appeal has always been regarded on the Pacific Coast, also in the Eastern states, as a reliable index of the doings of the colored citizens of the Pacific states and adjacent territories. Every important political, or other movement, made by the citizens of the Pacific coast, is promptly detailed by correspondents.
The Pacific Appeal is independent in thought and in action. Its columns are open to all parties for the logical discussion of every question pertaining to the welfare and progress of the people, without regard to race, color, or condition, etc."
With these characteristics, viz.: its political attitude, extensive influence, and wide circulation, it was regarded by the intelligent of all classes as the most desirable and readable newspaper ever published by Afro-Americans on the Pacific Slope; and as the equal of any by Afro- Americans in the Atlantic States.
During Mr. Bell's connection with this paper, he exercised all of his journalistic zeal, for which he was so well and favorably known, and this, as a matter of fact, did its part towards enabling it to stand. It was a sprightly-looking sheet, a six-column folio, and attractively printed. Its editorials were of a sober and sound character, which always indicated the power and make-up of the paper.
As was the practice of every Afro-American journal, The Pacific Appeal had a motto: "He who would be free, himself must strike the blow;" which it adhered to as best it could, under existing circumstances. This, it would seem, was the vital principle underlying the contest this paper intended to make, in view of what was a common fight,—that of Abolition, or freedom to the enslaved.The Appeal was permitted to witness the accomplishment of this, and the bondman become a freeman and a citizen; and lived for several years afterwards to see him develop his citizenship.
Mr. Philip A. Bell, one of the very earliest editors of which mention was made in a preceding chapter, having moved to the Pacific Slope with the desire to continue the good work of editorial fighting for his race, began, April 18, 1865, to issue The Elevator, The following is the prospectus, as it appeared in The Anglo- African:
"Prospectus:—The Elevator,—a weekly journal of progress, published every Friday.
Office, Phoenix Building, corner of Sampson and Jackson Streets, San Francisco, Cal., Room No. 9. Terms:—Per year, $5.00; six months, $2.50; three months, $1.25; one month, 50 cents; single copies, 15 cents.
This paper is the organ of the Executive Committee, and will advocate the largest political and civil liberty to all American citizens, irrespective of creed or color.
Such are our general principles and objects; but we shall have, in addition thereto, a special mission to fulfill: We shall labor for the civil and political enfranchisement of the colored people,—not as a distinct and separate race, but as American citizens.
We solicit the patronage of all classes, as we intend to make The Elevator a real, live paper, and an evidence of the progress of the age.
As an advertising column for retail business, we offer peculiar advantages, as our circulation will principally be among persons who patronize such establishments.
To make our advertising columns accessible to all, we have established the following low rates of advertising:—One square, six lines or less, one insertion, 60 cents; each subsequent insertion, 25 cents.
A liberal discount will be made to those who wish to contract for advertising quarterly or by the year,
P. A. Bell, Editor.
Publishing Committee: William H. Yates, James R. Starkey, R. A. Hall, James P. Dyer and F. G. Barbadoes."
Mr. Bell, having had up to this time twenty-five years of experience in editorial work, of course started The Elevator without any trouble whatever, either as to journalistic finish or business enterprise. It was a neatly printed paper, of four pages, with seven columns to a page. Its motto was "Equality before the law;" for which it fought with might and main. It was devoted to the literary culture of his race on the Pacific Slope, and though a contemporary of The Pacific Appeal, it claimed to be the organ of the Afro-Americans in California. The place of publication was 615 Battery Street, San Francisco, Cal.
While an earnest and efficient writer himself, in these his last days of journalism, he had an able corresponding editor in the person of Mr. William J. Powell.
The Elevator was known as a journal of progress, devoted to Science, Art and Literature, and also to the Drama.
As in the other publications of Mr. Bell, he had about him an able class of correspondents, and a willing force of agents.
Very often, during the publication of The Elevator, Mr. Bell was in very straitened circumstances, but he managed to continue the publication of his journal, and it was always readable. Unfortunately, he died April 24, 1889, in destitute circumstances, but his paper still lives, Mr. Bell having given it an impetus that will make it flourish for a long time.
How he was estimated as a journalist can best be told by those who knew him, and loved him for his noble deeds and generosity of heart. The following is the tribute from The Gate City Press, of Kansas City, Mo.:
"Philip A. Bell, the octogenarian journalist is dead. In his death the Negro race loses the oldest and one of the ablest of American editors. Fifty-two years ago, in New York, he flung to the breeze as a menace to the slave owner and slave hunter, The Colored American. A quarter of a century ago, he removed to San Francisco, where The Pacific Appeal was started. In 1865 Mr. Bell launched The Elevator, a spicy weekly, which continues to this day the oldest secular Negro newspaper. Educated, original, capable of fine powers of analysis, he flung the sparkling rays of his imagination over the productions of his pen, and came to be regarded as the Napoleon of the Colored press. For some years he had been too feeble to engage in newspaper work. Wednesday, April 24, at the age of 81, his spirit fled to his Maker. He died in the poor-house. And this is the end of a great historic character. Peace to his ashes!"
Below is the tribute paid to him by a writer in The New York Age:
"Philip Alexander Bell has closed his eyes in death, in his 81st year. To all New Yorkers the fact opens a history of the past that is not only interesting but profitable to consider. It brings up precious names; it calls to mind when New York City would call her roll of fifty and more of big-hearted, self-sacrificing men who publicly distinguished themselves and served the cause of their race not selfishly but for justice sake; men upon whom each other could safely rely; sensible, considerate men; stirring, energetic men; who were not simply active in efforts to free and enfranchise their brethren in bonds, but who were actively interested to forward the cause of morality generally, of education, of refinement and of the general weal. They were men of inflexible character when a principle was at stake."
***********"All of these, and more besides, are worthy of a place in the heart of every lover of liberty, and especially in the memory of the colored race. It is but seldom we hear mentioned the name of any of the above, though they all labored faithfully to bring about what is to-day enjoyed throughout the land by millions of their race. They were giants in efforts; they were heroes in devotion and in sacrifice.
If you would be informed of the labors of Philip A. Bell, seek the files of The Colored American, the Negro's pioneer paper. He started this journal in 1837, in New York City. There was associated with him the Rev. Samuel E. Cornish, one of the ablest colored men of his day, ranking with Hamilton, Simpkins and Williams. At a later date Dr. James McCune Smith was one of its editors. Dr. Smith, it will be remembered, graduated with high honors from Glasgow University, Scotland. About 1857 Mr. Bell went to California, where he wrote vigorously as an associate editor for The Pacific Appeal. He, with Frederick G. Barbadoes, did nobly in manufacturing a liberal sentiment in California, favorable to the colored people. In 1865 he gave to San Francisco and to the country The Elevator, which paper had his name at its head as editor and proprietor until his spirit from bondage was set free on the 25th ult.
Mr. Bell was a strong, vigorous but chaste writer, quite poetic; in fact he was fond of the poets, many of whom he could quote readily. He was well versed in history and belles-lettres and was a fine dramatic critic. He wrote several articles for the California daily papers, criticising Keene, Macready, Forrest and others.
"To be restless and aggressive, is the lesson his life presents to the individuals of this day; to those who have the manliness to feel that their talents, character, and citizenship are not properly respected. He was tall and prepossessing in appearance and manners; he had a fine address, was quick, impulsive and brave, with a keen sensibility as to honor and those other amenities that mark a gentleman and refined society. He was open-hearted and generous. Philip A. Bell has left behind but a very few of those old New Yorkers who labored with him nearly a half-century ago."
THE COLORED AMERICAN.
THE close of the war, and an epoch of freedom for the Afro-American, mark an entirely new phase in journalistic pursuit, as in all other interests.
The South, the main place of abode for our people, is vastly in need of a press, not only as a defender of our rights but as a popular educator; for as one of eminence has said of the Afro-American journals—"They would be, for a long time, the popular educator of the masses."
Afro-American papers educate the masses of the Afro-American people. These papers would seem to be not so much a defender as teachers of the masses, leading them to see the course they should pursue as freedmen in educating and elevating themselves as a people.
The keenest and most far-seeing Afro-Americans were the ones, too, whose labors were in demand.
With these facts in view, the Afro-Americans were not long in stretching themselves out, becoming editors and putting their thoughts, well mapped out and carefully arranged, on the printed page, before the public.
The prospectus of the first paper published in the South, appeared in The Anglo-African, Vol. 5, No. 6. The following is the prospectus, as it appeared:
The Colored American Prospectus:
"The undersigned propose to establish in Georgia, in Augusta, a Weekly Newspaper, to be entitled The Colored American.
It is designed to be a vehicle for the diffusion of Religious, Political and General Intelligence. It will be devoted to the promotion of harmony and good-will between the whites and colored people of the South, and untiring in its advocacy of Industry and Education among all classes; but particularly the class most in need of our agency. It will steadfastly oppose all forms of vice that prey upon society, and give that counsel that tends to virtue, peace, prosperity and happiness.
Accepting, at all times, the decision of the public sentiment and Legislative Assemblies, and bowing to the majesty of law, it will fearlessly, remonstrate against legal and constitutional proscription by appeal to the public sense of justice.
This paper will be conducted in a kind, conciliatory, and candid spirit, never countenancing that which serves to engender hostility. Its greatest aims shall be to keep before the minds of our race the duties and responsibilities of freedom; and to call attention to the wants and grievances of the colored people.
We earnestly ask the patronage of the colored people of Georgia, who must see the importance of such an organ.
We earnestly ask the cordial support of our white friends at the South, who are striving to bring about an "era of good feeling" and prosperity, and who believe that the colored race can materially aid in developing the resources of this section. We earnestly ask aid from our Northern friends, of all classes, who can be kept posted on all the affairs of the colored people, through our journal.
The Colored American will be issued in the latter part of October next. It will be of medium size, good type, and in all respects a good journal, and a very live one.
Terms $4.00 per annum, in advance.
Send in donations or subscriptions to Rev. James Lynch, 34 Edward Street, Baltimore, Md., or to J. T. Shuften, Augusta, Ga.
Beforeto comment respecting the work of The Colored American, it may be interesting to know the cause of the establishment of The American by the two gentlemen who signed the Prospectus:
In May, 1865, when the United States Commissioner was sent South to the freedmen, Mr. Shuften, then a very young man, was chosen to deliver the address of welcome. He did so and acquitted himself nicely. He was followed by Rev. Dr. Lynch of Baltimore, one of the leading lights of the Afro-American race.
Mr. Shuften saw the necessity of newspapers as the herald and sentiment of the Afro-American, in connection with the work of elevating his people. Being a young man of no great influence,—certainly not enough to give that prestige to a publication necessary to draw about it a support, he succeeded in securing the aid of Dr. Lynch. In September, 1865, he purchased type from a Mr. Singer and issued the above Prospectus for a publication in October. The first week of that month marked the issue of The American, the first Afro-American newspaper published in the South, after the war. It was received with great favor, by both white and black citizens; and heartily endorsed by the people of Augusta for its good and timely counsels, under the new order of things.It had no politics to advocate at that time; for its advent was before the enfranchisement of the Afro-American, or the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment. It therefore had nothing to promote but the intellectual and moral advancement of its constituents, which it did to no little extent.
The American had but one exchange upon its file,—that of The Colored Citizen, published at Cincinnati, O.
The American had but a brief existence. Mr. Shuften having consented to form a joint-stock company for the purpose of placing the paper upon a more permanent basis, he was forced, in February, 1866, through the bad faith of the stockholders, to abandon the enterprise to its creditors. It was purchased by Mr. J. E. Bryant and afterwards appeared under the name of The Loyal Georgian.
The American, during its career, received valuable support and encouragement from Bishop H. M. Turner and Rev. Dr. James Lynch. In fact, Mr. Lynch did a vast deal of good by writing for the paper, which made it a journal of interesting matter. He was not only a man of great experience but of vast learning, and was a ready writer.
Says an eminent man: "Lynch's articles were always carefully prepared, thoughtful, argumentative, and convincing; and they performed a good work wherever read." Another says: "Mr. Shuften was a writer of natural ability."
He has issued several pamphlets, and, at present, has a work of fiction prepared for the press, which is entirely original. The New York World and Churchman credits Mr. Shuften as the author of the best article yet published on the "Negro Question."
He was born in 1840, in Augusta, Ga., and at present is a successful, practicing lawyer, at the bar of Orlando, Florida.
CONTEMPORARIES OF THE COLORED AMERICAN.
CONTEMPORANEOUS with The American was published The Colored Tenneseean, in the state of Tennessee, (the second Afro-American journal published in the South) and The True Communicator, at Baltimore, Md.
These were journals of much ability and influence. Though all were of very brief existence, they aided The American in its great work of advising the race.
The Anglo-African of Nov. 11, 1865, says of these papers: "The True Communicator is edited with much spirit, and shows that the gentlemen having it in charge fully comprehend their duties, and are thoroughly alive on all the questions of the hour. We hope that great success will attend the efforts of the publishers.
In speaking of The Tenneseean, the same paper says:—
"This paper, which we have heretofore mentioned with much pleasure, has been enlarged, and our friend Waring of Ohio has joined the editorial corps. The people of Tennessee and the adjoining states appear to be coming up to the support of this sterling paper; and we hope that the publishers are meeting a just reward for their zeal and faithfulness in our cause.
Thus we see that these two papers, published in '65 and '66, did excellent work as contemporaries of The Colored American.
GENERAL IDEA OF AFRO-AMERICAN JOURNALISM.
THE establishment of The Communicator and The Tenneseean opened the way for the introduction of like papers all over the South.
From the year 1866 on, Afro-American newspapers were being founded in almost every state, some of which died an early death, while others survived many years. Some dropped their original name, and, under another, exist to-day.
These papers were started by some of the ablest men of the race at that time. They were men whose loyalty to their people could not be questioned, and whose efforts for race development could not fail to win appreciation. They labored at a time when the Afro-American, just out of slavery, did not engage to any great extent in literary efforts; and consequently a support for their journals was obtained by the hardest efforts only.
While the South did not accept defeat with any great magnanimity of soul, and consequently was not interested in the Afro-American's development,—in fact, did not, as a whole, wish to see it, yet there were a few whose love of principles and a desire to do what is right in the sight of God led them to receive properly the great result of the war, and at once unite with the Christian people of the North in helping the freedmen.
Wherever an Afro-American was found with brain sufficient to establish a literary effort, he was aided by these people. These journals were, in many respects, of more importance as advocates than we find the average Afro-American journals now. Why? The answer is plain, when we remember that only the ablest men of the race engaged in these undertakings then. In 1866 The American was a thing of the past, yet The Loyal Georgian was, in a measure, doing its work.
The Sunbeam, at Brooklyn, edited by Rev. Rufus L. Perry, (now D. D. and Ph. D.), and The Zion Standard and Weekly Review, edited by Rev. S. T. Jones, (now Bishop Jones) assisted by Prof. W. Howard Day, (now a D. D.,) were all marching to the front and early demonstrating the capabilities of this people, once oppressed.
These were supplemented in their efforts by neater and more substantial publications. In 1868, Rev. R. H. Cain, later a member of Congress, and Bishop in the A. M. E. Church, established The Charleston Leader, at Charleston, S. C. He afterwards made it the organ of his church, when it was known as The Missionary Record.
Rev. Mr. Cain, as is known, is a very able man, and of course much of his brilliancy was manifest in his paper. It was continued many years under the editorial management of Hon. R. Brown Elliott; but when he was elected a member of Congress, it suspended.
There were still papers rising here and there, advocating Afro-American advancement. The year 1870 opened gloriously for the Afro-Americans, in the field of journalism. The People's Journal, a juvenile paper, (which had 10,000 subscribers) was now being issued by Dr. R. L. Perry, as was also The National Monitor.Not one among the many Afro-American journalists has been more progressive and aggressive in journalistic work than Rev. Dr. R. L. Perry.
Rev. Perry was born in Smith County, Tenn. He is a highly educated man, having, as has been previously stated, two honorary degrees at the present time. He has an excellent idea of journalism, as one may see by a glance at The Monitor. He is a writer of vast learning and experience. The Monitor has survived many shocks in these twenty years of labor.
A writer says of our subject: "His pen has never in all these years failed to warn the race of dangers ahead. He always puts God first, and the race next."
Concerning the first paper he edited, in 1866, The Brooklyn Daily Union says: "It is edited by an intelligent, active, clear-headed colored man. It is temperate, sensible, and manly," This is the true estimate of his Monitor, to this day.
Mr. Jas. J. Spellman, now Special U. S. Lumber Agent, and Mr. John R. Lynch, now Fourth Auditor U. S. Treasury, began in this year, The Colored Citizen, in Mississippi. They were among the few able leaders in Mississippi, and their journal was creditably gotten up.
December 25th of that year, Mr. P. B. S. Pinchback started The New Orleans Louisianian, which was the first semi-weekly paper published by Afro-Americans. It was published in this way for three years, when it was issued weekly. This paper was a noteworthy effort, and a champion of the race. Its editor put into it all of the zeal and fire for which he is noted.
In this year W. Howard Day also published at Wilmington, Del., Our National Progress, which he edited with his accustomed vigor. It was a very good effort in this line, but eked out only a short existence, All during this time the intellectual state of the Afro-American was being improved, and his love for newspapers was daily increasing.
In August, 1861, John J. Freeman issued The Progressive American, in New York City, which ran from August 15, 1871, to February, 1887. It would not then have been suspended, but for the failing health of Mr. Freeman, who was advised by his physician to retire from the business.
No publication, save The Recorder, Elevator, and North Star, had so long an existence as this paper; and there is no exaggeration when the assertion is made, that none did more good. There was bitter prejudice to Afro-American journals, when The American made its appearance in New York; but it successfully combated every obstacle, and came out conqueror.
Many things profitable to the race that The American fought for were gained. Notably among these was the fight made for Afro-American teachers in the public schools of New York, the result being there are now twenty-three such teachers in said schools. The American also fought many an evil of the race, while advocating many good measures.
Mr. Freeman was a man of good journalistic ability, and excelled in press work. In journalism his was a rough road to travel; but all was laid upon the altar as his contribution to elevate the race. His editorials exhibited more than ordinary tact and talent, and were always on the side of right, morality, and the elevation of man.
William Welles Brown, in writing on the merits of The American, says: "That spicy and spirited weekly, The Progressive American, is edited by the gentleman whose name heads this sketch. By his natural genius, untiring industry, and scholarly attainments, he has created, and kept alive, a newspaper that is a welcome guest in New York and the county around."
Mr. Freeman is worthy of a more extended notice, but it must be withheld for want of space. The author would like to mention many things which he succeeded in obtaining through his editorial efforts, but must forbear.
The Progressive American was followed by The Commoner, and others equally as prominent. Prof. P. H. Murray published The Colored Citizen, at Washington, D. C. Mr. Murray is the present editor of The St. Louis Advance, and his editorials are always fresh, vigorous, far-seeing, and bristling with argument backed with facts.
From this time to 1880, journals were continually being started, which would require several volumes to mention. Many of them survived but a short time.
This period was one of great political excitement for the Afro-American. The ballot had just been given to him, with which it became possible to place his brother in the Congressional Halls. Publications were started in various localities for the achievement of a certain political end, which having been accomplished, their career would then terminate. This decade was, however, a successful period for Afro-American journalism, which made a great stride, though not equal to that from 1880 to 1890.
In 1870 there were but ten journals published by Afro-Americans in the United States, and in 1880 there were thirty; therefore we perceive there was a gain of twenty in ten years,—the most of these having been started after 1875. This is a good and notable increase, when we remember the lack of literary culture of the Afro-American, his limited knowledge of newspapers, and his want of desire for enlightenment then, and his support of newspapers now.
The following list does not, by any means, comprise the exact number of newspapers published by our people, for some were known only in the immediate vicinity of their publication.
The following is a complete list of Afro-American journals that were published when the year 1880 was ushered in:
|New Orleans, La.|
|St. Louis, Mo.|
|New York City.|
|Washington, D. C.|
|Kansas City, Mo.|
|Brooklyn, N. Y.|
|St. Louis, Mo.|
Journal of Industry,
|Raleigh, N. C.|
|New Orleans, La.|
|Providence, R. I.|
|San Francisco, Cal.|
|Wilmington, N. C.|
|Concord, N. C.|
|Raleigh, N. C.|
Star of Zion,
|New Berne, N. C.|
Educator and Reformer,
|New Orleans, La.|
|Charleston, S. C.|
|Washington, D. C.|
These papers were held in high regard for their journalistic tact and worth, and for their national reputation as reliable journals. To our mind, the greatest stride made in Afro-American journalism, was in the decade which ends with the present year, 1890. Let us note the advance in the comparative estimates of 1880 and 1890. For convenience, we will do so by states:
|Dist. of Columbia,||2||4||2|
This period begins with a year when the Afro-American is seeking to advance in the educational field, and to be thirsting for knowledge. It begins with a time when Afro-American journalism is deeply interwoven in the fabric of the nation, and is seen to be an indispensable factor in the improvement of our race.
Some of the states not mentioned have had Afro-American papers, but they were short-lived. This increase of journalism in these last years indicates as plainly as anything can the triumphant progress of the race. Since the beginning of 1890, there has been a marked gain in Afro-American journals over the last decade. The typographical appearance and the editorial standard of these papers are their noticeable characteristics. They assume greater proportions, and seem more comprehensive in their editorial dealings.In summing up this chapter, we can readily conclude that the increase in our journalistic efforts is a fair measure of our literary ability, which has been so developed within a quarter of a century. Onward! fellow-craftsmen, is the watchword.
THAT the measure of a people's literary qualifications is its press facilities has been accepted, we think, as a fact; yet a people's literary worth is not to be estimated solely by the number of its newspapers, magazines and periodicals; for a hundred of them united may not possess as much merit as one other journal in point of editorial excellence. Therefore, we deduce this from careful study: that press facilities may be a measure of a people's literary worth, only insomuch as the press is able, practical, and efficient; and so far as it expresses itself clearly and produces sentiment in accordance with the principles of right, truth and justice.
What kind of press work goes to make up this measure, is the question for each of us to consider. What kind of press work has aided in demonstrating the Afro-American's literary worth, is another question for solution.
We believe all nations consider the magazine the best exponent of its literary worth. This being so, it is fair to conclude that such is the case with the Afro-American.
There is found in the magazine not only the purest and best thought of the editor but also the richest and best thought of the leaders and representatives of his race; made so by culture, experience, and pure Christian character.
If, then, a race possess any number of these magazines, which are well contributed to and sustained by its own people, it becomes a self-evident fact that they are growing in literary merit.
The Afro-Americans early began this work. Those at the North, even while their brethren were enslaved in the South, and they themselves were not enjoying many of the blessings of freedom, and while their elevation was retarded, saw in this branch of journalism a timely and effective means of advocacy for the abolition of slavery in the South, and the improvement of the black man at the North. As early as the 30's an Afro-American was at the head of a popular monthly magazine, Mr. William Whipper having editorial control of The National Reformer in 1833, which was the property of the American Moral Reform Society.
This magazine was exceedingly popular, and was, as a matter of fact, read by more whites than blacks. It was published in the interest of the Abolition Movement, and of the moral, educational, and social reform of the people, irrespective of color. It therefore occupied a position, in which the Afro-American editor had to strive bravely to reach a high standard.
Mr. Whipper was a man of fine editorial powers; and the magazine under his control was, in most respects, the equal of its former literary managers. A leader of the race, familiar with Mr. Whipper's editorial work for reform, pays him this tribute: "Mr. Whipper's editorials were couched in chaste and plain language; but they were bold and out-spoken in the advocacy of truth."
It was in 1833 that Mr. Whipper sent to the world these favorable and suggestive words through The Reformer, relative to moral reform. Said he: "Our country is rich with means for resuscitating her from moral degeneracy. She possesses all the elements for her redemption. She has but to will it, and she is free." If '33 presented this glorious aspect for moral reform, how much greater should this day offer!
This magazine we have just been considering, while in every respect Afro-American by having an Afro-American as editor, was not owned by a black man. It, however, demonstrated the Afro-American's capacity for the editorial work of a magazine.
But it was not long before the Afro-American was sole owner of a magazine, as well as editor of it. With the year 1837 came the publication of The Mirror of Liberty, a quarterly magazine, (taking William Welles Brown as authority), published by David Ruggles, whom we have noticed in a preceding chapter. Mr. Ruggles was much interested in the moral, social, and political elevation of the free Afro-Americans in the North, and for this he labored zealously through the columns of his magazine for many years. He was not so interested in the Abolition Movement, when editing The Mirror of Liberty. The magazine had an able corps of writers and was a credit to the race.
Between the years 1840 and 1850, there is no record that tells us of any publication of the nature we have been considering. Not until '59 do we hear of another Afro-American magazine. True to the spirit of the Afro-American, unhindered, this time his effort for a magazine was greater than ever, resulting in one the journalistic neatness of which was worthy of that of the most pretentious. It was called The Anglo-African Magazine, and was an outcome of The Anglo-African paper, both being owned and edited by Mr. Hamilton. Vol. 1, No. 1, appeared January, 1859. It was a monthly magazine of thirty-two pages. The title page had the following: "Et nigri Memnonis arma." January 1st, 1856. Published by Thomas Hamilton, 48 Beekman Street, New York.
This magazine adhered closely to the outline of policy given in the prospectus, it being devoted to Literature, Science, Statistics, and the advancement of the cause of human freedom. The name of Thomas Hamilton as editor was a guarantee for its editorial matter. Its contributors, who were men of unimpeachable character and ability, kept its columns constantly teeming with light. They always presented a clear and concise statement of the race's condition at that time, both free and enslaved.
The objects mentioned below, set forth in the prospectus, were faithfully adhered to and worked for. They were as follows: "To chronicle the population and movements of the colored people.
To present reliable statements of their religious, as well as their moral and economic standing.
To present statements of their educational condition and movements, and of their legal status in the several states.
To examine the basis on which rest their claims for citizenship in the several states and of the United States.
To give an elaborate account of the various books, pamphlets, and newspapers, written or edited by colored men.
To present the biographies of noteworthy colored men throughout the world."
The price of subscription to this magazine was $1.00. It had fifty correspondents. Upon the death of Mr., in 1861, its publication was suspended; but it was resurrected in 1864 by his son, William G. Hamilton, then bookkeeper in the office of The Weekly Anglo-African, published by his uncle; it lived, however, but a short time, to serve as a reminder of what had been.
The period intervening before we hear of another magazine, is a very long one,—freedom and citizenship having come to the Afro-American, meanwhile. True, there were magazines and periodicals published in the Afro-American schools; but we speak of such as were for the Afro-American people at large.
The A. M. E. Church Review, an organ of the General Conference of the A. M. E. Church at Baltimore, next claims our attention. The first number appeared in July, 1884. It was a quarterly of never less than one hundred and twenty-five pages. Its journalistic finish is pleasing to the eye, while its literary contributions are of high order. In the beginning it was edited by Rev. B. T. Tanner, now Bishop Tanner; but at present its editorial head is Dr. L. J. Coppin, a writer of acknowledged ability.
The Review has a circulation of 1500, which is daily increasing. It goes to all points of the United States, Africa, Europe, Hayti, etc. As a writer says: "It is an example of race enterprise and superior ability." The price of subscription is $1.50, and it is fully worth it."
After The A. M. E. Church Review, came the magazine published at Louisville, Ky., known as "Our Women and Children," with Dr. William J. Simmons, editor. This magazine was established in 1888. Its purpose was the uplifting of the race, particularly our Afro-American women and children. Being devoted to this kind of work, it has done more than all the Afro-American papers together in bringing to the front the latent talent of our lady writers. Its columns have been open, from time to time, to all our women, for articles on the particular questions which affect home, the mother and children. By the efforts of its editor it has thus given to the world a bright array of female writers, upon different questions hitherto unknown to the literary world.Its editor, Rev. William J. Simmons, D. D., is recognized by the nation as an educator, both with respect to the
school-room and the newspaper. He occupies a prominent place in the affairs of his church, and his people. At present he is the honored Secretary of the Southern District of the American Baptist Home Mission Society, President of the National Press Convention, and President of the State University, Louisville, Ky. He has edited, in his time, several newspapers,—a prominent one being The American Baptist.
Dr. Simmons' capacity for thought is an unusual one. His literary efforts are such, we feel that the world of journalism is becoming so great a power through him, that men yet unborn will regard him as of superior mind.
We clip two tributes to Dr. Simmons as a writer, and leave the reader to think about the man: "As an editorial writer he has obtained a national reputation for a pungent and aggressive style. He is an unremitting champion of right as against wrong of any kind, and has a bluff straightforward way of expressing himself on all occasions, that is as refreshing as it is startling at times."—Ind. Freeman.
A writer in the North pays the following: "Rev. Wm. J. Simmons, D. D., President of the State University of Louisville, Ky., and the chief Baptist scholar on this continent, is one of the race's big coming men. He has seen much of the world and men, and is a versatile, luminous thinker and writer. His chief work, 'Men of Mark,' brought him into immediate and famous notice, and is a book of priceless value to all who desire to know and learn of the magnates, 'chief scribes' and orators of the Negro race. He is President of the Colored Press Association and has always been looked upon as a Nestor in its different councils."Howard's Negro American, published at Harrisburg, Pa., is another creditable feature of magazine literature among the Afro-Americans. It is an octavo of at least sixty pages of reading matter of the best kind. The first number was issued by its proprietor, Jas. H. W. Howard, July 1st, 1889. It is neat and tasty in its typographical arrangement, and has, at this writing, an excellent circulation. Its editor, Mr. Howard, is a man of thrift, born, in 1856, at Hamilton, and was educated in the schools of Buffalo, N. Y. He is a writer of ability and long experience, having edited the State Journal from 1881 to '86, in Harrisburg, Pa.
The next magazine we find is farther west, and is called The Afro-American Budget. It is published monthly at Evanston, Ill., with Rev. J. S. Woods as editor and proprietor, and Rev. W. H. Twiggs as Corresponding Editor. This magazine, in many respects, is a very praiseworthy production, particularly because of its bright journalistic touch. Its editor, a man highly educated in letters and in theology, and with natural editorial capacity, makes The Budget a gem, editorially. It is devoted to the practical problems of the Afro-American race, and always contains contributions from many of the excellent writers among our people. It is of thirty-two pages, carefully arranged, and is sold at the low price of seventy-five cents per year.
As we conclude this chapter we are greeted by the finest and fairest publication yet, The Southland, a monthly magazine, founded by Rev. J. C. Price, D. D., of Livingstone College, Salisbury, N. C., and edited by Prof. S. G. Atkins of that school. It is truly the Forum of the Afro-American press. Words too commendable of The Southland cannot be said. The high mission it comes to fulfill must indeed be carried out to the letter; and in order to do this it demands the support of the race. There is no more worthy magazine than this. The first number was issued in February, 1890, and received great encomiums from the press generally.
The founder, as well as the editor, needs no introduction at our hands: one, the leading educator of our race; the other, a writer of supreme excellence.The Southland is the fac-simile of The Forum in its typographical arrangement. It is published more particularly as an exponent of the leaders' opinions of the situation in the South, It is bound to "hoe its row" through the intellectual field.
There are other magazines and periodicals published in the Afro-American educational institutions South, but they are issued more with reference to these institutions than to the broad discussion of the race question.
THE DAILY AFRO-AMERICAN JOURNALS.
THE Afro-American has not lost any time in learning the advantage of a daily paper, with respect to the good it may do in a community. He has made efforts in this line that have been somewhat successful.
But there are many obstacles attending publications of this sort among the Afro-Americans. The prejudices existing prevent his connection with any united or Associated Press organization; which debars him from the privilege of receiving telegraphic communications at the cheap rates accorded the members of such a body. Then it is our opinion that while the race is prepared for daily papers, yet the support now given our weeklies argues that no great number of dailies among us would be supported. The history of Afro-American dailies thus far, proves to us that where they have been published the patronage was, in the main, white; and in order to obtain and hold this, it would not answer to have the papers too deeply "colored;" but if regard were paid to this, it would offend the Afro-American. These are only a few of the many reasons for the lack of daily Afro-American journals.
But, for all this, it is our pleasure to record some efforts in this line which have met, and now seem to be meeting, with success, though attended with many difficulties.
The first attempt made to establish a daily publication was at Cairo, Ill., where Hon. W. S, Scott, then publishing a weekly, started a daily in connection with it. It was known as The Cairo Gazette, Mr. Scott being owner and editor. He bought a complete outfit, at a cost of $2000, which enabled him very successfully to put his paper into operation. Vol. 1, No. 1, of the daily issue, came out April 23, 1882, as an independent publication, in the interest of the race. Mr. Scott was a prominent man, and as popular with the whites as with the blacks; a proof of the fact being that his job office did all the city's printing. Four-fifths of the circulation of his paper was among the whites. It was a readable sheet, all original matter, and had a good force of reporters. Mr. Scott's politics do not meet the approval of many; but his ability is never questioned. The Daily Gazette was issued six months, when it was destroyed by fire,The next effort at a daily issue was The Columbus Messenger, at Columbus, Ga. It was started June 20, 1887, as a weekly paper, and published for a year and a half as such, when it became a semi-weekly, and finally a daily. It was edited with much spirit and fitness by Mr. B. T. Harvey, a graduate of the Tuskeegee Normal School. We have his word for the fact that, as a daily, it had a good circulation, or, in other words, a paying circulation, and its receipts were clearly satisfactory to him. Its size was 12 by 20 inches, and full of reading matter.
The Daily Messenger would not have suspended publication, but the editor having accepted a position in the Railway Mail Service, he was necessarily compelled to close up his business enterprise for a time.
As we have said, the paper, as a daily, met with the success Mr. Harvey anticipated, which will be seen in a part of a personal letter to us, which we insert: "Let me add, that, with my experience in newspaper work, I am confident the colored press could be made more confidential and powerful, if more would attempt daily issues. They can be made a success."
The Knoxville Negro World, Patteson Bros. & Co., publishers, Knoxville, Tenn., was issued daily for two weeks, but more as an advertiser than a regular daily medium of news.
As we close this chapter we learn of a daily publication in Baltimore, known as The Public Ledger. It is edited by Mr. Wesley Adams. The Public Ledger is having great success, we are informed, and our wish is that its efforts may be so appreciated as to warrant its continued publication.