Freedom’s Journal – First African American Owned Newspaper

Rev’d Samuel Cornish, pastor t... Digital ID: 485485. New York Public Library On this day, March 16th, in 1827, the first issue of Freedom’s Journal was published in New York City.  Freedom’s Journal was founded and edited by Samuel Cornish and John Russwurm.John B. Russwurm; First Negro ... Digital ID: 1219258. New York Public Library

In the first issue, Cornish and Russwurm use nearly the entire first page for a letter, “To Our Patrons.”   They write: “We wish to plead our own cause.  Too long have others spoken for us.  Too long has the publick been decieved by misrepresenations, in things which concern us dearly.” They go on to discuss their vision for the paper and their hope for their “brethren.”  They end the letter by ever so eloquently requesting support:  “And while everything in our power shall be performed to support the character our Journal, we would respectfully invite our numerous friends to assist by their communications and our coloured brethren to strengthen our hands by their subscriptions, as our labor is one of common cause, worthy of their consideration and support.  And, we do most earnestly solicit the latter.”

The paper was published every Friday for two years.  Though, short-lived, Freedom’s Journal was a powerful organ for racial uplift and disseminating information about regional, national, and even international  news and events of interest to newly freed New Yorkers and indeed to readers and subscribers in Washington, DC; a dozen other states, and abroad.

The Wisconsin Historical Society has digitized all 103 issues of the paper:  Volume 1, March 16, 1827 – March 21, 1828 and Volume 2, April 4, 1828 – March 28, 1829.  While some pages may be difficult to read, it’s certainly worth magnifying the Adobe Acrobat file to 300%, if only to read biographies, such as the one about Phillis Wheatly, in Issue 2 (page 2).  If you like poetry, check out the poetry column which appeared on page 4 of the first few issues of volume 1 that I viewed.

For additional information about Freedman’s Journal, see the following  web sources and book:
The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords: Freedom’s Journal

Wisconsin Historical Society

Book:  Freedom’s Journal: The First African-American Newspaper by Jacqueline Bacon.

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2 Responses to Freedom’s Journal – First African American Owned Newspaper

  1. P! says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I love old documents. I just wish the scans were better quality.

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