Freedom's Journal

Sold by the Sheriff

On March 16, 1827 Samuel E. Cornish (1795-1858) and John Brown Russwurm (1799-1851), both well-educated clergymen, began to edit and publish Freedom’s Journal in New York City. Cornish was born in Sussex county, Delaware and attended the Philadelphia Presbytery.

As a youth Russwurm was educated in Canada, and became the first black man to receive a degree from Bowdoin College. The partnership dissolved when Russwurm joined the American Colonization Society in their effort to establish a black colony in Liberia. The paper ceased operations with the March 28, 1829 issue.

Our Free County

Several free negroes were recently brought before the County Court of Jefferson county, Ky., under a law of 1803, which forbids any free negro or mulatto to migrate to, be brought into that State from any other State or Territory, upon pain of being “sold by the Sheriff to the highest bidder, on a credit of one year, unless they are able (which very few of them are) to give bonds and good security that, within 20 days, they will depart and never more return. In the one referred to, several were actually sold by the Sheriff for one year; others were set at liberty, having received their freedom in the State; and to others, time was given to find security or leave the State and never return.

Surely this is a free country! where a man who happens to have a dark skin, is deprived of his liberty, (one of those “unalienable rights” which our Declaration of Independence says is common to all mankind,) and converted into a Slave, for no other crime than having removed from one State into another. We would suggest a substitute for this barbarous law, and one which we are sure will be equally effectual. Let it be ordained that every free black or mulatto who shall be found in the State, on or after a given period, say the 1st of January, 1830, shall immediately be supplied with a decent outfit, and restored to the land of his fathers at the public expense, as a small return for the injury which has been done to him or his ancestors, by tearing them from their homes, and consigning them to the horrors of slavery. This would secure the State from an excess of free coloured population, without turning it back upon some sister State, which, perhaps is already encumbered with the same material.”

Freedom’s Journal 1829-03-28

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