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The rights of all. [volume] : (New-York [N.Y.]) 1829-18??
Place of publication:
New-York [N.Y.]
Geographic coverage:
  • New York, New York, New York  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Samuel E. Cornish
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (May 29, 1829)-
Monthly <Aug. 7, 1829-Oct. 9, 1829>
  • English
  • African American newspapers--New York (State)
  • African American newspapers.--fast--(OCoLC)fst00799278
  • African Americans--New York (State)--New York--Newspapers.
  • African Americans.--fast--(OCoLC)fst00799558
  • New York (N.Y.)--Newspapers.
  • New York (State)--fast--(OCoLC)fst01210280
  • New York (State)--New York.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01204333
  • Microfilmed by the Library of Congress for the Committee on Negro Studies of the American Council of Learned Societies.
sn 83027094
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The rights of all. [volume] May 29, 1829 , Image 1


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The Rights of All and The Freedom’s Journal

The Freedom's Journal was the first African American newspaper in the United States published in New York, NY from 1827 to 1829. Supported by other leading free African American men in the city, Samuel E. Cornish and John Brown Russwurm started the paper. Cornish was a free African American Presbyterian minister from Delaware, and Russwurm was a formerly enslaved educator and journalist from Jamaica. They sought to use the weekly paper "to plead our own cause" and oppose the misrepresentation of African Americans in White newspapers and literature. Cornish and Russwurm highlighted important events and inventions of the time, abolitionist topics and movements. They also included poetry and literature columns and lifestyle editorials on individual and family improvement. The paper circulated advertisements showcasing African American businesses, boarding houses, and schools.

The paper had agents who collected subscriptions across the Northeast, South, Canada, England, and Haiti, including most notably, the abolitionist David Walker in Massachusetts. However, by 1829, debates about African colonization would lead to the end of the Freedom's Journal. In the paper's September 14, 1827 issue, Cornish resigned as editor after six months stating that he wanted to "remove to the country" and "devote [himself] exclusively to the work of the Ministry." He remained a subscription agent for the paper. He resumed his role as editor and renamed the paper to the Rights of All when Russwurm migrated to Liberia to work as the superintendent of schools for the American Colonization Society in 1829.

Under Cornish's editorship, the Rights of All became an eight-page, three-columned paper. It was published under the motto, "Righteousness Exalteth a Nation, Sin is a Reproach to any People." Cornish hoped to use the paper "to the general benefits of society" and "to the rights, & interests of the Coloured population" stated in its first issue on May 29, 1829. The Rights of All retained much of the content and many of the agents of the Freedom's Journal. It had expanded editorials on universal emancipation and anti-colonization. It also contained content on Christianity through religious columns and African American self-determination through agriculture columns.

Cornish used his editorials to argue for the benefits of farming for the improvement of African Americans. He fought for better training for African American Presbyterian ministers, and he highlighted the importance of education. Most importantly, he criticized the American Colonization Society. To Cornish, colonization was not wrong, especially if used as a missionary effort for recaptured and emancipated Africans. However, to use it to relocate African Americans and colonize Africa was to attack "the laws of God, and the case of justice and humanity" as the September 18, 1829 issue noted. Cornish proposed that philanthropists and "colonizationists" use their money to free enslaved people in the South. Then, they could move them West to work and purchase land for themselves.

Cornish wanted to publish the paper weekly, but the paper would only appear six times monthly before its last known issue on October 9, 1829. In this issue, the Rights of All reported that "owing to some arrangements to be made by the editor, the next number will not be issued until the last week in November or first in December." Cornish would return to journalism with the New York papers, Weekly Advocate in 1837 and the Colored American from 1837 to around 1842.

Note: A portion of the issues digitized for this newspaper were microfilmed as part of the Miscellaneous Negro newspapers microfilm collection, a 12-reel collection containing issues of African American newspapers published in the U.S. throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Creation of the microfilm project was sponsored by the Committee on Negro Studies of the American Council of Learned Societies in 1947. For more information on the microfilm collection, see: Negro Newspapers on Microfilm, a Selected List (Library of Congress), published in 1953. While this collection contains selections from more than 150 U.S. newspapers titles, for further coverage, view a complete list of all digitized African American titles available in the Chronicling America collection.

Provided by: Library of Congress, Washington, DC