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*On this date in 1847, The North Star newspaper began publication.
This was a nineteenth-century anti-slavery newspaper published by abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The North Star's slogan was "Right is of no Sex, Truth is of no Color. God is the Father of us all, and all we are Brethren."
Douglass was first inspired to publish The North Star after subscribing to The Liberator, a weekly newspaper published by Wm. Lloyd Garrison. Douglass's thoughts toward political inaction changed when he attended the National Convention of Colored Citizens, an antislavery convention in Buffalo, New York, in August 1843. One of the many speakers present at the convention was Henry Highland Garnet. Formerly a slave in Maryland, Garnet was a Presbyterian minister who supported violent action against slaveholders. Garnet's demands of independent action addressed to the American slaves remained one of Douglass's leading change issues.
During a nineteen-month stay in Britain and Ireland, several Douglass' supporters bought his freedom and assisted with purchasing a printing press. With this assistance, Douglass was determined to begin a Black newspaper that would engage the anti-slavery movement politically. On his return to the United States in March 1847, Douglass shared his ideas about The North Star with his mentors. Ignoring the advice of the American Anti-Slavery Society, Douglass moved to Rochester, New York, to publish the first edition. When questioned on his decision to create The North Star, Douglass is said to have responded, “I still see before me a life of toil and trials..., but justice must be done, the truth must be told...I will not be silent.”
The North Star title referred to the directions given to runaway slaves trying to reach the Northern states and Canada: "Follow the North Star." It was published weekly and was four pages long. It is sold by a $2 per year subscription to more than 4,000 readers in the United States, Europe, and the West Indies—the first of its four pages focused on current events concerning abolitionist issues. Douglass supported the nonviolent approach to the emancipation of slaves by education and moral suasion. The New England Anti-Slavery Society hired Douglass as an agent, touring with Garrison and telling audiences about his experiences as a slave. Under the guidance of the abolitionist society, Douglass became well acquainted with the pursuit of the emancipation of slaves through a New England religious perspective.
Douglass worked with another abolitionist, Martin R. Delany, who traveled to lecture, report, and generate subscriptions to The North Star. In covering politics in Europe, literature, slavery in the United States, and culture generally in both The North Star and Frederick Douglass' Paper, Douglass achieved unconstrained independence to write freely on topics from the California Gold Rush to Uncle Tom's Cabin to Charles Dickens's Bleak House. Besides Garnet, other Oneida Institute alumni who collaborated with The North Star were Samuel Ringgold Ward, Jermain Wesley Loguen, and philanthropist Gerrit Smith. Philanthropist Gerrit Smith assisted Douglass. The paper ceased publication as The North Star in June 1851 when it merged with Gerrit Smith's Liberty Party Paper (based in Syracuse, New York) to form Frederick Douglass' Paper.