The North Star Vol. I No. 37

About the Project

Frederick Douglass was born in 1808 as Frederick August Washington Bailey, the son of an enslaved woman and possibly her white enslaver in Maryland. Douglass emancipated himself at the age of 20. Over the course of his life, he shared his experiences of enslavement in three autobiographies. Douglass was a leader of the abolition movement, fighting against slavery through speeches and writings. He passed away in 1874 at his home in Washington D.C.

The North Star, later called Frederick Douglass' Paper, was an antislavery newspaper published by Frederick Douglass. First published on December 3, 1847, using funds Douglass earned during a speaking tour in Great Britain and Ireland, The North Star soon developed into one of the most influential African American antislavery publications of the pre-Civil War era. The name of the newspaper paid homage to the fact that escaping slaves used the North Star in the night sky to guide them to freedom. The paper was published in Rochester, New York, a city known for its opposition to slavery. The motto of the newspaper was, "Right is of no sex--Truth is of no color--God is the Father of us all, and we are brethren." Published weekly, The North Star was four pages long and sold by subscription at a cost of $2.00 per year 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 having to do with abolitionist issues; pages two and three included editorials, letters from readers, articles, poetry, and book reviews; the fourth page was devoted to advertisements. In the paper, Douglass wrote with great feeling about what he saw as the huge gap between what Americans claimed to be their Christian beliefs and the prejudice and discrimination he witnessed.

This issue, published September 8, 1848, contains several anti-slavery essays and letters, including a letter from Douglass to his previous enslaver Thomas Auld, titled [To My Old Master], as well as a critique of the Liberian colonization movement, news of the rebellion in Ireland, poetry, notices of anti-slavery society meetings around the region, and general advertisements.

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