The final issue of Freedom’s Journal appeared March 28, l829, with Russwurm’s valedictory. As he saw it, his efforts to disseminate useful knowledge, to raise the level of education and conduct, and "to improve the mass of coloured people" could not claim success. He deplored the failure of the masses "to rise from...ignorance and degradation." In the brief period of two years the odds against success were too formidable for his earnest endeavors. Prejudice was on the rise and would most likely continue unless a "general amalgamation" should stay its course. He closed with observations on the hazards of his craft, with an assessment of his own performance, and with a glance into the future:

...Generally speaking an editor's office is a thankless one and if so among an enlightened people: what could we expect? We are therefore not in the least astonished, that we have been slandered by the villainous that our name is byword among the more ignorant, for what less could we expect. Prepared, we entered the lists; and unvanquished to retire, with the hope that the talent committed to our care, may yet be exerted under more favorable auspices, and upon minds more likely to appreciate its value.6

Operational Matters

     During its two years Freedom's Journal identified in its masthead a total of 44 Authorized Agents who promoted fresh subscriptions and renewals in 11 coastal states, the District of Columbia, Canada, Haiti and England. Cornish was in charge of this operation as general agent for the 18 months following his departure from the post of senior editor. Ten of the agents served the full two years of the Journal's existence. Yearly subscriptions cost $3 with discounts for advance payments.

     The estimated weekly circulation of Freedom's Journal was 800. The figure is credible as we look at the census figures for free Blacks in the major cities with agents: Washington, 6,l52; New York, l5,000; Boston, l,800; Philadelphia, 9,000; Baltimore, l4,000, and New Orleans, ll,000. The figure does not appear as outlandish in view of the modest circulations of the dailies in l829, just prior to the zooming thousands realized after the introduction of the New York Sun and the penny papers a few years later. The New York Courier & Enquirer (formed by James W. Webb’s 1829 purchase and merger of Mordecai Noah’s Enquirer) was the largest daily in the city that year with a circulation of 4,000.7

 

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February 2000