Tag Archives: Frederick Douglass
NorthStar

American Slavery in 1848: An Evil with no Redeeming Features

This appeared in Frederick Douglass’s North Star on December 1, 1848. It was a reprint of an editorial from the Free Soil Standard.

This institution of slavery is an evil which has not a single redeeming feature. In most cases, whatever is lost by one set of men is gained by another; but in this instance, it is not so, for the slaveholders and the slaves are alike injured. The latter, in consequence of being almost deprived of education, and kept in continued subjugation, are reduced almost to the condition of brutes; while the former, by being placed beyond the necessity of labor, lead lives of habitual indolence, and pervert those faculties which were given to them for the noblest purposes.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.
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A Remarkable Case of Alleged Fugitives from Slavery

A Remarkable Case of Alleged Fugitives from Slavery

(Douglass’ Monthly, June 1859) Years ago a woman held as property by A.H. Evans, of this county, came with his consent to St.Louis and worked here for wages, a stipulated part of which was paid to him. She here formed a marriage connecting with a free negro,and had successively two children, whom she reported to her “master” as having died. She had then another child, whose freedom she subsequently purchased, together with her own.

Her present husband is John Jackson, at Fourteenth and Gratiot streets, and does chores at the Recorder’s Court Room and Calaboose. That the mother so long succeeded in averting the suspicion of their existence, from her two children, is most remarkable.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.
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To Arms

Men of Color, to Arms! (1863)

(Douglass’ Monthly – March, 1863) When first the rebel cannon shattered the walls of Sumter, and drove away its starving garrison, I predicted that the war, then and there inaugurated would not be fought but entirely by white men. Every month’s experience during these two dreary years, has confirmed that opinion. A war undertaken and brazenly carried on for the perpetual enslavement of colored men, calls logically and loudly upon colored men to help to suppress it. Only a moderate share of sagacity was needed to see that the arm of the slave was the best defence against the arm of the slaveholder. Hence with every reverse to the National arms, with every exulting shout of victory raised by the slaveholding rebels, I have implored the imperrilled nation to unchain against her foes her powerful black hand. Slowly and reluctantly that appeal is beginning to be heeded. Stop not now to complain that it was not heeded sooner. It may, or it may not have been best that it should not. This is not the time to discuss that question. Leave it to the future. When the war is over, the country is saved, peace is established, and the black man’s rights are secured, as they will be, history with an impartial hand, will dispose of that and sundry other questions. Action! action! not criticism, is the plain duty of this hour. Words are now useful only as they stimulate to blows. The office of speech now is only to point out when, here and how, to strike to the best advantage.

Who would be free themselves must strike the blow. Better even to die free, than to live slaves.

There is no time for delay. The tide is at its flood that leads on to fortune. From East to West, from North to South, the sky is written all over “NOW OR NEVER.” Liberty won by white men would lose half its lustre. Who would be free themselves must strike the blow. Better even to die free, than to live slaves. This is the sentiment of every brave colored man amongst us. There are weak and cowardly men in all nations. We have them amongst us. They tell you that this is the “white man’s war”;— that you will be no “better off after, than before the war”; that the getting of you into the army is to “sacrifice you on the first opportunity.” Believe them not—cowards themselves, they do not wish to have their cowardice shamed by your brave example. Leave them to their timidity, or to whatever motive may hold them back.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.
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FD-Cover

To Our Oppressed Countrymen (December 1847)

This message, directly from Frederick Douglass, defined his mission in producing The North Star newspaper. It appeared in the first issue that was published on December 3, 1847:

To Our Oppressed Countrymen: We solemnly dedicate the “NORTH STAR” to the cause of our long oppressed and plundered fellow countrymen. May God bless the offering to your good! It shall fearlessly assert your rights, faithfully proclaim your wrongs, and earnestly demand for you instant and even-handed justice. Giving no quarter to slavery at the South, it will hold no truce with oppressors at the North. While it shall boldly advocate emancipation for our enslaved brethren, it will omit no opportunity to gain for the nominally free, complete enfranchisement. Every effort to injure or degrade you or your cause – originating wheresoever, or with whomsoever – shall find in it a constant, unswerving and inflexible foe.

We shall energetically assail the ramparts of Slavery and Prejudice, be they composed of church or state, and seek the destruction of every refuge of lies, under which tyranny may aim to conceal and protect itself.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.
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John Jay

John Jay, Founding Father and Abolitionist

John Jay was born into a wealthy family of merchants and government officials in New York City. He became a lawyer and joined the New York Committee of Correspondence, organizing opposition to British polices in the time preceding the American Revolution.

Jay was a slaveholder, as were many wealthy New Yorkers during the time period. However, in 1774 Jay drafted the Address to the People of Great Britain, which draws upon the image of slavery and compares the British treatment of blacks to the British treatment of all colonists.

Friends and Fellow-Subjects: When a Nation, lead to greatness by the hand of Liberty, and possessed of all the Glory that heroism, munificence, and humanity can bestow, descends to the ungrateful task of forging chains for her friends and children, and instead of giving support to Freedom, turns advocate for Slavery and Oppression, there is reason to suspect she has either ceased to be virtuous, or been extremely negligent in the appointment of her Rulers.

After 1777, Jay took a more active leadership role in the movement to abolish slavery. Between 1777 and 1785, two laws abolition laws he drafted failed to pass. Almost every member of the New York legislature had voted for some form of emancipation in 1785, but they were unable to agree on which rights to give the newly free black New Yorkers.

Aaron Burr also called for immediate abolition, and numerous slaveholders independently freed their slaves after the Revolution, but thousands were held in New York City alone.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.
(more…)


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