John Brown Russwurm

Changes in Chinese Geographic Views in Freedom’s Journal

Till very lately the Chinese in their maps of the earth, set down the Celestial Empire in the middle of a large square, and dotted round it the other kingdoms of the world, supposed to be 72 in number, assigning to the latter ridiculous or contemptuous names.

One of these, for example, was Siaogin que or the Kingdom of Dwarfs, whose inhabitants they imagined to be so small as to be under the necessity of tying themselves together in bunches, to prevent their being carried away by the kites.

In 1668 the Viceroy of Canton, in a memorial to the Emperor, on the subject of the Portuguese embassy, says, ‘We find very plainly that Europe is only two little islands in the middle of the sea. With such ideas of other nations, it is not wonderful that they should consider the embassies and presents sent to them as marks of submission, and hasten to write down the donors in their maps, as tributaries of the Chinese Empire.

Published March 28, 1829
Freedom’s Journal 

The Da Ming Hun Yi Tu (Great Ming Dynasty Amalagamated Map)

The Da Ming Hun Yi Tu (Great Ming Dynasty Amalagamated Map)

Notes about Freedom’s Journal

Freedom’s Journal was the first African American owned and operated newspaper published in the United States. Published weekly in New York City from 16 March 1827 to 28 March 1829, the journal was edited by John Russwurm and co-editor, Samuel Cornish who contributed only through the 14 September 1827 issue.

Chinese Geography in Freedom's Journal

Chinese Geography in Freedom's Journal

The editors Cornish and Russwurn used Freedom’s Journal to oppose the other racist newspapers in New York City and in order to publicly protest their current treatment. They believed that these mass accounts inaccurately represented blacks in New York City and that their newspaper would be a response to the mass newspapers in NYC that distorted African-Americans. People were ignorant of the truth and they thought Freedom’s Journal might change the perception of Black’s in society. Cornish and Russwurm argued in the first issue of the freedom journal that, “Too long have others spoken for us, too long has the public been deceived by misrepresentations…”

However, Cornish and Russwurm’s objective for Freedom’s Journal did not only concern racism against African-Americans but also involved the autonomy and identity of African-Americans in society.

We have Freedom’s Journal as a complete collection covering March 16, 1827 — March 28, 1829.

All images included in blog posts are from either Accessible Archives collections or out of copyright public sources unless otherwise noted. Common sources include the Library of Congress, The Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives.

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