Friday, February 18, 2011

Free Soil Press in Slave States

While this article is obviously pre-Civil War, coming in the October 29, 1859 edition of the Covington Journal, I found it to be fascinating. It is a reprint from the New Orleans Crescent.

Clearly, the assumption of who the next President would be was wrong, but I find it remarkable that a newspaper was complaining that free speech and free press would be protected. I guess when those freedoms brought an anti-slavery message, they did not seem so important.

Also note that none of the examples listed in the article came from the deep south. Virginia and Missouri certainly had more than their share.

Freesoil Press in Slave States
No phase of the growth of Black Republicanism is more alarmingly significant than the establishment of newspapers advocating freesoil principles in slave commonwealths. A few years since, such attempts would have been regarded as dangerous and incendiary. Now, in many of the border slave States, freesoil publications are not only tolerated, but looked on with an eye of favor by many of the population, all of which is ample evidence of the decrease of the strength of the institution of the institution in those States, truly foreshadowing early ultimate abolition there.


There are, proudly remarks a Northern freesoil contemporary, now ten Black Republican journals printed in English, and eight in German, making eighteen in all, published in slave States, distributed as following:


The Missouri Democrat, St. Louis, Missouri; The Free Democrat, St. Joseph, MO; The Sentinel, Kansas City, MO; The Free South, Newport, Ky.; The Wheeling Intelligencer, Wheeling Va.;  The Wellsburg Herald, Wellsburg, Va.; The Ceredo Crescent, Ceredo, Va.; The National Era, The Republic, Washington D.C.; The News and Advertiser, Milford, Del.


German - Der Anzeiger des Westens, Die Westliche Post, St. Louis, Mo.; Der St. Charles Demokrat, St. Charles, Mo.; Die Deutsche Zeitung, St. Joseph, Mo.; Die Missouri Post, Kansas City, Mo.; Der Louisville Anzeiger, Louisville, Ky.; Der Baltimore Wecker, Baltimore, Md.


We are of opinion that several more ought to be added to the above list, but "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." We shouldn't be surprised if moderate freesoil journals were published in this city in three years. With Seward as President the "freedom of speech and the press" would probably be protected. At all events Seward would make the attempts and with the officeholders and power and patronage of the Federal Government to back him, he might be successful.

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Of course, the presence of such newspapers in the border states was not as easy and accepted as this article makes it seem. Here is a link to a report on the Free South of Newport, Ky, and some of the challenges it faced to stay in existence.

The article transcribed above also fails to mention previous attempts at such newspapers in the region such as  Cassius Clays  The True American, published in Lexington, Ky and the opposition it aroused, as well as Elijay Lovejoy's murder that happened because of his continued attempts to publish abolition information in Missouri and southern Illinois.

Other papers, both mentioned and neglected above likely faced opposition in the slave states. Despite that, however, this article as reprinted in the Covington Journal does provide an interesting view of how at least one part of the deep south viewed the border states and how slavery was faring in those locales.

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