I wish to say a word to the Republicans of the free States, which I hope will be copied into other Republican journals. William S. Bailey of Newport, Ky., has edited and published, for seven years, an Anti-Slavery paper in Kentucky.
He and his family have suffered slow martyrdom all this time. He has been maliciously prosecuted, his buildings have been burned, and he has endured personal violence. But he preserves, and is resolved to do so till Kentucky becomes a free State. He needed new type for his paper, and I undertook to raise $500 of the $1,000 required for that purpose in the Massachusetts Legislature and in Boston.
I have sent him $430, and shall probably get the remainder. Other friends in Boston have sent him $200; friends in Salem nearly $200. He now needs and ought to have immediately $1,000 to pay on his house which he has sacrificed for Freedom, but holds still under mortgage. He will lose the opportunity of redemption unless he is aided to this amount. His paper is doing good service in Kentucky.
The Weekly circulates over 2,000 copies in that State, and the Daily some 500 copies. He has won a position which it is highly important to hold. A little aid now will make it sure. He ought to be helped in two ways; by subscriptions to his paper – the Weekly in $1 a year in advance, the Daily $5 – and by donations.
If every one who reads this article will send him a small donation, a most noble champion of our cause will be cheered and made strong in his arduous and important work. In my poverty, I have freely given him many days of hard work, spent in securing the $430 I have sent him. will not all Republican papers insert this appeal?
Collection: African American Newspapers
Publication: THE NATIONAL ERA
Date: April 9, 1857
Title: AN APPEAL FOR WM. S. BAILEY, OF KY
Location: Washington, D.C
About William Shreve Bailey
Born in Centerville, Ohio, in 1806, William Shreve Bailey moved to Newport, Kentucky, in 1839. Noted as an “infidel” in religion, Bailey—a Democrat—was a staunch abolitionist; in 1850, the mechanic began contributing articles to the Newport News, calling for the immediate abolition of slavery. Shortly thereafter, the proprietor of the News—a Mr. Ryan—was harassed for publishing Bailey’s writing that some Northern Kentuckians felt was “too radically liberal for a slave state.” At Ryan’s urging, Bailey bought out the beleaguered publisher, purchasing the News’ type and press for $650. The ambitious mechanic-turned-journalist utilized the second story of his machine shop to support his new endeavor, and he issued his first paper on March 7, 1850, with the motto, “Liberty and Equality.”
Historian Will Frank Steely notes, “Bailey proclaimed that his papers stood for…‘The Rights & Interests of the People—True Democracy—The Freedom of Kentucky & the Downfall of Slavery.” Interestingly, though, Bailey opposed slavery for economic reasons. A member himself of the laboring class, Bailey maintained that the abolition of slavery would lead to an increase in wages for white workers. His newspaper—aptly renamed the Free South in 1858—appealed not to Newport’s wealthy, influential citizens but to its working class.
Though the life and contributions of William S. Bailey may not be as well-known as those of Elijah P. Lovejoy or John Brown, they stand virtually unrivaled as the most significant example of the promotion of antislavery action in Kentucky in the 1850s. An exemplary model of resilience and dedication, William S. Bailey undeniably fulfilled his desire to never be forgotten amongst the free men of his nation.
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