Against the swelling tide of hate, abuse, slander, and ridicule thrust at the Black man in the North, there was much that his own newspaper could do for him in his plight. Before Cornish helped to found Freedom's Journal he had done some newspaper writing himself. His essay, called "Remonstrance Against the Abuse of the Blacks," appeared in several papers, including The Genius of Universal Emancipation.

     There he struck a theme that he later repeated in editorials and speeches; namely, that stereotypes of Negroes as ill-mannered and uncouth ignored the existence of refined, educated, and often well-to-do Blacks who themselves deplored the poor behavior not only of their lower-class brethren but also of lower-class whites, whose conduct, wrote Cornish, usually turned out to be far worse.

     In his article Cornish dwelt briefly upon an issue which a year later came prominently to the forefront in the operation of Freedom's Journal. Many of those identified with the anti-slavery cause believed that the best way to end slavery was to move the Negro from American soil and to transport him back to Africa and allow him to colonize the country. The Colonizationists, as these adherents were called, were opposed sharply by the Emancipationists -- those who favored freeing the slaves for life on American soil. In his article Cornish wrote that poor Negro behavior derived from slavery rather than from emancipation, as some who favored colonization would have the public believe.

     Like Cornish, John Brown Russwurm came into the world Black and free. He was born October l, l799, at Port Antonio in Jamaica. It was the year that New York State enacted one of several laws calling for the end of slavery, three months after the birth of Freedom's Journal. Russwurm's parents were John Russwurm, a white Virginian educated in England and settled in Jamaica as a planter, and his Black mistress or housekeeper. The mother has remained nameless in the records since there was no marriage. Ordinarily the mulatto offspring of such unions studied, like gentlemen's sons, in England. However, not desiring to send the youth that far, the senior Russwurm sent his eight-year-old son to Quebec for early schooling.


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February 2000