LC card #: sn83-30455
“We wish to plead our own cause.
Too long have others spoken for us.”
Thus declare Samuel Cornish and John B. Russwurm on the front page of Freedom’s Journal, the first African-American owned and operated newspaper published in the United States. The Journal was published weekly in New York City from 1827 to 1829. Samuel Cornish served as co-editor with John B. Russwurm between March 16, 1827 and September 14, 1827. Russwurm became sole editor of the Journal following the resignation of Cornish in September 1827. Freedom’s Journal was superseded by The Rights of All, published between 1829 and 1830 by S. E. Cornish. Learn more about history of the Journal and its editors on the PBS website. <http://www.pbs.org/blackpress/news_bios/newbios/nwsppr/freedom/freedom.html>
Freedom’s Journal provided international, national, and regional information on current events and contained editorials declaiming slavery, lynching, and other injustices. The Journal also published biographies of prominent African-Americans and listings of births, deaths, and marriages in the African-American New York community. Freedom’s Journal circulated in 11 states, the District of Columbia, Haiti, Europe, and Canada.
The newspaper employed subscription agents. One of these, David Walker, in 1829 published the first of four articles that called for rebellion. Walker’s Appeal <http://cgi.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h2931t.html> stated that “.it is no more harm for you to kill the man who is trying to kill you than it is for you to take a drink of water,” this bold attack was widely read. Walker distributed copies of his pamphlet into the South, where it was widely banned.
For more information about African-American newspapers including lesson plans, interactive activities, a timeline, resources and biographies see the PBS website for the film The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords