Freedom's Journal – First Editorial
It is our earnest wish to make our Journal a medium of intercourse between our brethren in the different states of this great confederacy; that through its columns an expression of our sentiments, on many interesting subjects that concern us, may be offered to the public; that plans which apparently are beneficial may be candidly discussed and properly weighed; if worthy, receive our cordial approbation; if not, our marked disapprobation.
Useful knowledge of every kind, and every thing that relates to Africa, shall find a ready admission into our columns; and as that vast continent becomes daily more known, we trust that many things will come to light, proving that the natives of it are neither so ignorant nor stupid as they have generally been supposed to be.
And while these important subjects shall occupy the columns of the Freedom’s Journal, we would not be unmindful of our brethren who are still in the iron fetters of bondage. They are our kindred by all the ties of nature; and though but little can be effected by us, still let our sympathies be poured forth, and our prayers in their behalf, ascend to Him who is able to succor them.
From the press and the pulpit we have suffered much by being incorrectly represented. Men whom we equally love and admire have not hesitated to represent us disadvantageously, without becoming personally acquainted with the true state of things, nor discerning between virtue and vice among us. The virtuous part of our people feel themselves sorely aggrieved under the existing state of things – they are not appreciated.
Our vices and our degradation are ever arrayed against us. But our virtues are passed by unnoticed. And what is still more lamentable, our friends, to whom we concede all the principles of humanity and religion, from these very causes seem to have fallen into the current of popular feeling and are imperceptively floating on the stream-actually living in the practice of prejudice, while they abjure it in theory, and feel it not in their hearts. Is it not very desirable that such should know more of our actual condition, and of our efforts and feelings, that informing or allocating plans for our amelioration, they may do it more understandingly? In the spirit of candor and humility we intend by a simple representation of facts, to lay our case before the public, with a view to arrest the progress of prejudice and to shield ourselves against the consequent evils. We wish to conciliate all and to irritate none, yet we must be firm and unwavering to our principles, and persevering in our efforts.
If ignorance, poverty and degradation have hitherto been our unhappy lot; has the eternal decree gone forth, that our race alone, are to remain in this state, while knowledge and civilization are shedding their enlivening rays over the rest of the human family? The recent travels of Denham and Clapperton in the interior of Africa, and the interesting narration which they have published; the establishment of the republic of Hayti after years of sanguinary warfare; its subsequent progress in all the arts of civilization; and the advancement of liberal ideas in South America, where despotism has given place to free governments, and where many of our brethren now fill important civil and military stations, prove the contrary.
The interesting fact that there are five hundred thousand free persons of colour, one-half of whom might peruse, and the whole be benefitted by the publication of the Journal; that no publication, as yet, has been devoted exclusively to their improvement – that many selections from approved standard authors, which are within the reach of few, may occasionally be made – and more important still, that this large body of our citizens has no public channel- all serve to prove the real necessity, at present, for the appearance of the Freedom’s Journal.
It shall ever be our desire so to conduct the editorial department of our paper as to give offense to none of our patrons; as nothing is farther from us than as to make it the advocate of any partial views, either in politics or religion. What few days we can number, have been devoted to the improvement of our brethren; and it is our earnest wish that the remainder may be spent in the same delightful service.
In conclusion, whatever concerns us as a people, will every find a ready admission into the Freedom’s Journal, interwoven with all the principle news of the day.
And while everything in our power shall be performed to support the character of our Journal, we would respectfully invite our numerous friends to assist by their communications, and our coloured brethren to strengthen our hands by their subscriptions, as our labour is one of common cause, and worthy of their consideration and support. And we do most earnestly solicit the latter, that if at any time we should seem to be zealous, or too pointed in the inculcation of any important lesson, they will remember, that they are equally interested in the cause in which we are engaged, and attribute our zeal to the peculiarities of our situation, and our earnest engagedness in their well being.