Dec. 3, 1841

Frederick Douglass circa 1879 Credit: Wikipedia

Frederick Douglass founded and edited his first antislavery newspaper, “The North Star,” in Rochester, New York. The publication title referred to Polaris, the bright star that helped guide Black Americans escaping slavery: “To millions, now in our boasted land of liberty, it is the STAR OF HOPE.” 

He explained in this first issue that he desired to see “in this slave-holding, slave-trading, and negro-hating land, a printing-press and paper, permanently established, under the complete control and direction of the immediate victims of slavery and oppression … that the man who has suffered the wrong is the man to demand redress,—that the man STRUCK is the man to CRY OUT—and that he who has endured the cruel pangs of Slavery is the man to advocate Liberty.” 

The publication also sought to “promote the moral and intellectual improvement” of people of color. He championed not only for the freedom of those enslaved, but for women’s rights as well with the motto, “Right is of no sex. Truth is of no color. God is the father of us all, and all we are brethren.” 

In 1851, the paper merged with the Liberty Party Paper from Syracuse and became known as Frederick Douglass’ Paper. The paper closed during the Civil War, and in 1870, he moved from Rochester to Washington, D.C., and became part owner of the New National Era, which attacked the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and the mistreatment of and violence against Black Americans throughout the nation. His sons ran the newspaper until it folded in 1874. Because of a fire, no known collection exists of all of Douglass’ newspapers.

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