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Freeman's champion. [volume] : (Prairie City, Kanzas) 185?-18??
Place of publication:
Prairie City, Kanzas
Geographic coverage:
  • Prairie City, Kansas  |  View more titles from this: City State
Prouty & Willett
Dates of publication:
  • English
  • Prairie City (Kan.)--Newspapers.
  • Archived issues are available in digital format as part of the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 22 (May 13, 1858).
sn 95063180
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Freeman's champion. [volume] June 25, 1857 , Image 1


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Freemen’s Champion

The Freemen’s Champion was published weekly from June 25, 1857, until September 16, 1858, in Prairie City, Kansas. The paper was started by Salmon Stephen Prouty (1835-1889) in a “far famed tent, erected by the gallant ladies of Prairie City” using the printing press first brought to Kansas in 1834 by the printer-missionary Jotham Meeker.

The Freemen’s Champion set out “to be uncompromising, unflinching, bold and fearless in aiding to secure the triumph of Freedom over tyranny” in the Kansas Territory, and labored “assiduously for the Free State party.” Prouty continued in his first editorial “Justifying our name – Freemen’s Champion – we design to be a warrior in vindicating the rights of freemen. We hope to always be found on the side of freedom and an ardent friend of the oppressed and down trodden, a relentless foe of the tyrant, the demagogue and the doughface traitor.” Eleven issues were published and came to a stop on September 10, 1857, after inclement weather forced the newspaper to suspend publication and move out of its tent and into a building. Instead of reopening in three or four weeks as hoped, the Champion reappeared after three months on January 28, 1858, with the assistance of Oliver P. Willet who joined Prouty in assuming publishing duties. Their intent was to make the Champion “the sauciest, liveliest, most wide awake and most thoroughly independent paper in Kansas Territory.” 

Willett remained with the Champion until the May 27, 1858 issue in which an article reads: “a pro-slavery man was robbed one day last week by a gang of highway men under the lead of a person who gave his name as Capt. O.P. Willett.” The Champion denied the accusation and observed that most likely the “gang was composed of Pro Slavery desperadoes, sailing under the guise of Free State men.” Despite the paper’s claims, Willett was never credited in the publisher’s box again. In the same issue were also initial reports of the Marais des Cygnes Massacre which occurred May 19, 1858. Missouri border ruffians attacked antislavery settlers, and “murder and rapine was the order of the day in Lynkins, Lynn and Bourbon counties.” The following issue carried eyewitness accounts of the attack. The Champion continued until September 16, 1858, when publication ceased after the editorial note which read only: “No paper will be issued next week, and possibly none during the week following. The publisher is compelled to be absent on business connected with the office.”

Provided by: Kansas State Historical Society; Topeka, KS