Commonplace


Just Teach One

Weekly Anglo-African And The Pine and Palm (1861-1862)

Spring 2018 – Just Teach One: Early African American Print no. 4
Edited and introduced by Brigitte Fielder, Cassander Smith, and Derrick R. Spires

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Weekly Anglo-African and The Pine and Palm (1861-1862)
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Introduction

Resolved, That we firmly, flatly, uncompromisingly oppose, condemn and denounce as unfair and unjust, as unwise and as unchristian, the fleeing, colonizing efforts urged by James Redpath, the white, seconded by George Lawrence, Jr., the black, who is employed by him.

Resolved, That we do not deny the right of Mr. James Redpath and a Boston firm of white gentlemen to give eleven hundred dollars for the “Anglo-African,” and for Mr. Redpath to bind Mr. Thomas Hamilton, the late proprietor thereof, not to issue another paper for circulation among the colored people; but we do declare that he is not justified in the deceptive policy of placing at the head of the paper, like the figure-head of a ship, the name of George Lawrence, Jr., a colored man, although he has him in his employ; nor is he justified as a professed anti-slavery man, in closing the columns of the paper to a discussion of matters of public and general interest to the colored people, neither in making personal attacks upon individuals without permitting a reply.
–The Christian Recorder, May 25, 1861

 

 

The Pine and Palm (1861-1862) is not a perfect example of a black newspaper, but rather a concentrated case study of all of the fault lines invoked in the terms “black press,” “black print culture,” and “black community.” In a way, the transition from the Weekly Anglo-African (1859-1861) to the Pine and Palm helped a contentious black print community (made up of newspapers, activists, readers, writers, and subscription agents) coalesce against a common enemy: James Redpath (1833-1891) and Haitian emigration. At the same time, this transition speaks to the precariousness of newspaper funding, as Thomas Hamilton (1823-1865) was forced to sell the Weekly Anglo-African to James Redpath, who then rebranded the Weekly for a new purpose. It speaks to the interracial and international character of the newspaper business more broadly and the importance of tracing financing. Hamilton, for instance sought funding for the Weekly Anglo-African from a wide range of sources: white abolitionist supporters such as John Jay, Jr, black activists such as James McCune Smith, selling books out of his offices, and borrowing against a life insurance policy he took out on himself for that purpose.[1] Throughout these efforts, no one questioned Hamilton’s status as the paper’s proprietor or the paper’s status as a black newspaper.

As the resolution published in the Christian Recorder suggests, the Pine and Palm is more difficult to pin down. The Haitian government financed the paper, Redpath, a Scottish-American abolitionist, was its proprietor, George Lawrence, Jr., was (nominal) editor and wrote many of the editorials out of New York, and the paper was printed out of Boston in the same building that housed Garrison’s Liberator. Despite its funding and Lawrence’s editorial presence, however, black activists questioned its legitimacy as a black paper, from its first issues. Was Lawrence, as the resolution suggests, simply a figurehead for Redpath’s paper, a black presence to give his plan and position with Haiti legitimacy? Had Redpath duped the Haitian government into trusting him? Or, did Lawrence seize an opportunity to establish a paper that could speak to his own disaffection with the United States and interest in building a “negro nationality.” Or did Haitian President, Guillaume Fabre Nicolas Geffrard, simply find in Redpath a well-positioned vector into the U.S. print public?

While these are all important questions, a closer look at the resolutions suggests a still another path focused less on who ran and financed the paper and more on how they ran it. The resolution invokes a ranging black public that saw in the Weekly Anglo-African an open space for debate, less a director of the public opinion and more a venue for “discussion[s] of matters of public and general interest to the colored people.” Staunch and vocal support from not just black individuals, but also black papers (Christian Recorder, Frederick Douglass’s Paper, and Provincial Freeman chief among them) speak to the importance they saw in the Weekly Anglo-African as a project not connected to a single individual or religious institution and their collective professional respect for Hamilton. The resolution suggests, and attempts to make real in the act of suggestion, that the Weekly Anglo-African had begun succeeding in doing something black activists had been attempting to do since the early days of the National Colored Convention Movement: create a unified black press that allowed black readers and writers of all stripes speak to and collective participate in creating a black print community. In this context, personal attacks were not an issue—the Weekly Anglo-African had published its fair share of them—instead, the committee took issue with the new editor’s not giving space for responses, as had been Hamilton’s practice. They wanted the paper to succeed as a space for open debate, and they saw the Redpath, Lawrence, and Pine and Palm as a threat to this ethos.

Yet, the Pine and Palm also reminds us that these communities were not bound to, nor necessarily centered on, the United States. The Pine and Palm was as much a Haitian paper as it was an “African American” paper. Its critics rightly noted the paper’s emigrationist shift. Through visual images, historical accounts, and an array of correspondences and literature, the paper shifts attempts to create a print community of a different sort. The character of that community, as the pages we reproduce here suggest, was and remains up for debate. Lawrence, Redpath, and Haitian officials each had a slightly different vision of African Americans’ relation to Haiti and Haiti’s role in the Atlantic world even as they agreed on one point: a strong Haiti would be vital to toppling the slave power and white supremacy.

The transition from Weekly Anglo-African to Pine and Palm, then, invites us to think about how black print communities envisioned themselves and the dynamics of responsibility and responsiveness—of ownership—they drew between themselves and black newspapers. The Weekly Anglo-AfricanPine and Palm moment offers a play-by-play account of a seismic shift in African America that had ramifications for the broader print culture and for the way we read it. These periodicals don’t suggest a world of hope or impending civil war; we see instead a world deep in existential crisis. Writers seem aware that they are on a threshold, and they were attempting, collectively, to determine not only the flow of events, but also their next moves within that flow.

 

 

Transition and Rebranding from the Weekly Anglo to the Pine and Palm

Thomas Hamilton (1823-1865) founded the Weekly Anglo-African on  July 23, 1859, out of his Beekman Street offices in New York as a weekly counterpart to the monthly Anglo-African Magazine, which had begun publication in January of that year. Hamilton described the Weekly as “a paper in which to give vent to our opinions and feelings, in which to compare notes with each other, in which to discuss the best plans to pursue, to sympathize if suffering come, to rejoice if victory come,” and his editorial practices reflected this sense of an open forum (December 15, 1860). The paper’s first year provided precisely that: an intense debate over the relation of “Anglo-Africans” to the United States, the ever-present mandate to end the enslavement, and the potential of political sovereignty in other lands. The debate featured a who’s who of black activism (James McCune Smith, Henry Highland Garnet, Lizzie Hart, Martin R. Delany, James W. C. Pennington, etc.) along with “Letters from the People” from across the country that challenged their leadership at every turn. The battle was as much over how to define a nation-state and who could participate in this process as over whether emigration was feasible and advisable. And it did, indeed, turn ugly. Though personally opposed to emigration, however, Hamilton restrained himself (and the paper) from siding with one group or the other. The effect was a sense of a vibrant (or acrimonious), geographically diverse, black American intellectual community.

Under Hamilton’s editorship, then, the paper provided a virtual (and circulating) communal hub if not a home even as its contributors debated about how a political and, as importantly, cultural, home might look. Even as the debate around emigration suggested an existential crisis the paper’s cultural production catalogued regenerative creativity and ongoing literary cultural histories. The paper gave space to reports from literary societies such as the Banneker Institute of Philadelphia and literature, including the full run of William Wells Brown’s novel, Miralda, his first serialized revision of Clotel. Indeed, Hamilton’s muted editorial voice made the Weekly Anglo-African a unique space that cultivated critical debate and a robust black expressive culture. The paper reveals a print community frantically searching for answers, but also a community defining itself through the contentiousness, not despite it.

Hamilton was well-suited for this task. As he noted in his January 1859 introduction for the Anglo-African Magazine: he had been “‘brought up’ among Newspapers, Magazines, &c.,” and, as a result, “he understands the business thoroughly.” His father, William (1773-1836), had been a fixture in New York black politics and the early National Colored Convention movement in the 1820s and 1830s. The Hamilton household was a hub of activist activity, and Thomas and his brother Robert, followed closely in their father’s footsteps. Both were students in New York’s Free African School. Thomas began a career the newspaper business as early as 1837, when he began working for the Colored American. His first paper, The People’s Press, began publication in 1841.

This background may have given Hamilton a degree of credibility as a professional editor among his peers that even Frederick Douglass couldn’t rival. The Anglo-African Magazine demonstrates the amount of cultural capital he had amassed by 1859. The magazine burst at the seams with a who’s-who of black cultural production: Frances Harper (including her first short story, “The Two Offers”), Martin Delany (including installments of Blake), Sarah M. Douglass, James McCune Smith, William J. Wilson, James T. Holly, and the list goes on. Yet, like many nineteenth-century newspapers publishers, Thomas and Robert struggled to keep the publications viable. In Thomas’s case, ill-health compounded the financial struggles. As a result, the magazine ceased publication three issues into its second volume, and Hamilton was forced to sell the Weekly Anglo-African to James Redpath. As Benjamin Fagan documents, he did so with the understanding that Redpath would maintain the paper’s impartial character, and Hamilton would not start a rival paper.

The transition from Weekly Anglo-African to Pine and Palm, and from impartial venue to emigrationist organ, began in the March 16, 1861 issue of the Weekly Anglo-African, when George Lawrence, Jr., an African American newspaperman, announced his taking over editorial and managerial duties for the paper. Like the Hamiltons, George Lawrence was part of the second generation of black activism in New York. His father, George, Sr., had been a trustee of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church and was active in New York activists circles, including the state convention movement. There are also early print connections between Lawrence and Hamilton. Among George, Jr.’s, early publications is the poem, “Lines to Cinque,” which appeared in the February 11, 1842 issue of The Liberator. The poem praised Joseph Cinque, the leader of the 1839 Amistad uprising and first appeared in Hamilton’s The People’s Press. By 1861, he had become the New York agent for the Bureau of Haitian Emigration.

Lawrence’s first editorial for the Weekly Anglo-African declared that he would not continue Hamilton’s “rather ominous silence” and would instead “define our position on every question that arises in which the welfare of our people is involved” (March 23, 1861). Over the next few issues, the paper’s content shifted from a debate format to a more overtly polemical tone as correspondences and letters gave way to reprinted speeches on Haiti, James Redpath’s reports on the Haitian economy and politics, and increasingly strident denunciations of the United States as an irredeemable nation. The April 13, 1861 issue (appearing a day after the attack on Fort Sumter) featured an article calling for volunteers, not for the Union effort, but rather for emigration:

We require a government that can not only catch slave-dealers and slaveholders, but will hang them so surely as they are caught.… We can make of Hayti the nucleus of a power that shall be to the black, what England has been to the white races, the hope of progress and the guarantee of permanent civilization…. From that centre let but the fire of Freedom radiate until it shall enkindle, in the whole of that vast area, the sacred flame of liberty upon the altar of every black man’s heart, and you effect at once the abolition of slavery and the regeneration of our race.

Here, as elsewhere, we can also see the complicated relationship between Lawrence, would be African American emigrants, and Haiti. Lawrence frames the venture as founding a new republic and generates a mythical, but attainable utopian landscape for African American appropriation. This approach was likely a great recruitment pitch to African Americans, but it also removes Haiti from its own history.

By April 27th of that year, Lawrence’s editorials (reproduced here) began appearing under a U.S. flag with the ribbon, “Emancipation or Extermination.” In the first, he argued: “the American flag is our flag; for we are Americans,” but, he continued, the creed behind the flag is so vile that “Withered forever be the hand, and paralyzed the arm of the colored American who lifts up either in support of the Federal Flag.” The next week, Lawrence announced that the paper was financially solvent (but did not mention Redpath’s purchase) and in the next sentence, renounced the name Anglo-African, for, “An Anglo-African is an Englishman of African decent, not a colored American at all.” (Lawrence was not the first to make a quip about the term; it had been a running joke of sorts in the Anglo-African Magazine since 1859.) Finally, on May 11th, Lawrence announced the paper’s new name: The Pine and Palm, which would appear the next week with a “supplement containing Wendell Phillips’ oration on Toussaint L’Ouverture.”

What we have here is a prolonged rebranding effort, as Lawrence found his voice as an editor (however briefly), and as he paved the way for the transition to James Redpath and full-throated advocacy for Haitian emigration. But even this shift is complicated. As McKivigan has noted, Redpath either dictated or strongly influenced at least some of Lawrence’s editorial work.[2] At the same time, Lawrence clearly supported Haitian emigration, and the ideas articulated in these early editorials differ tonally from those printed in the Pine and Palm, raising questions about the extent to which Lawrence was negotiating between his own vision and Redpath’s. Nevertheless, the shift, while appearing calculated in hindsight, must have appeared an abrupt betrayal of trust from the perspective of the Weekly Anglo-African’s readers.

Masthead of The Pine and Palm

When the paper appeared under its new masthead it listed Redpath, Lawrence, and Richard J. Hinton (British immigrant and Redpath associate) as its editors.[3]  Redpath had already appeared in the columns of the Weekly Anglo-African as an advocate of Haitian emigration. Beyond that, readers might have recognized him as the “roving editor” for the National Anti-Slavery Standard, writing of his travels in the slave states under the pseudonym, John Ball, Jr., and he wrote for a wide range of newspapers across the 1850s, including features on John Brown and the Kansas-Nebraska crisis. After Harper’s Ferry, Redpath published The Life of Captain John Brown (1860), which Hamilton sold out of his New York offices, and Echoes of Harper’s Ferry (1860), an edited collection praising Brown that included a letter from Frances Harper to Brown’s wife.[4] Redpath made several extended trips to Haiti during this time, and by 1860, he had been named Commissioner for Haitian Emigration from the United States and Canada.

Once Redpath took the helm officially, he moved the paper’s printing operations from New York to Boston, occupying the same 221 Washington Street offices that printed the Liberator.[5] The move likely leveraged Redpath’s connections to Garrison and the Liberator, but also would have given him more control over the final product. Under Redpath’s ownership, the Pine and Palm’s primary purpose was recruitment for the Haitian Immigration Bureau, but Redpath had much broader plans for the paper and the hemisphere. In his first editorial, Redpath laid out his vision for a “Cosmopolitan Government of the Future.” He weaves a familiar narrative of the redeemer or “chosen” (to borrow Benjamin Fagan’s term) empire into a utopian telos, not ending with the return of a Messianic Savior, but rather with “the Cosmopolitan Government of the Future”:

Yet we will not forget that, while the creation of a great Negro Commonwealth in the Antilles is necessary for the elevation of the African race here, and while the formation, also, of free tropical Confederacies is indispensable for the arraying of the physical forces of freedom against physical slavery, there is a higher possibility for humanity still—to which the world is tending, which America must inaugurate—the Cosmopolitan Government of the Future, which, superseding Nationalities and rendering war unnecessary, shall establish and secure forever, the ‘reign of peace on earth and good will to men.’”

The paper symbolized this hemispheric union, the connections between the “Pines” of North America and the “Palms” of the Antilles.

The first issue featured an engraving of Toussaint L’Ouverture, the next of General Joseph Lamothe, Secretary of State of the General Police of Hayti (included here).  Subsequent issues carried images of Haitian currency and biographical sketches by William Wells Brown of “Celebrated Colored Americans,” such as Madison Washington, who led a rebellion aboard the ship Creole in 1841.  And throughout, the paper reprinted debates in Congress over recognition of Hayti and Liberia as sovereign states. Taken as a whole, the paper continued the Anglo-African’s dedication to probing configurations of empire and the nation-state in terms of how variously configured black empires could dismantle the slave power, but the Pine and Palm unmoored this project from U.S. soil. Haiti would provide the basis for a hemispheric revolution that would not only result in immediate emancipation, but would also change the nature of government and politics in the hemisphere as a whole.

Neither the Pine and Palm nor its vision of emigration to Haiti lasted long, however. Most of the roughly 1600 African Americans who were part of the initial wave of immigrants returned, because of a combination of under-preparedness, political instability, and the changing scene at home. The start of the Civil War changed the landscape. Douglass, who had intended to visit Haiti to ascertain the viability of emigration, disavowed the movement. The War saw even the staunchest black supporters of emigration (Delany, Henry Highland Garnet, and Mary Ann Shadd Cary among them) advocating for black enlistment and making sure the nation understood that the Civil War would be a war to free enslaved people, whether the North and South wanted it to be or not. On the Haitian front, questions of corruption and fraud swirled continuously around Redpath until he resigned as Emigration Commissioner and closed the Pine and Palm on September 4, 1862. Geffrard’s regime had never been as stable as Redpath and Lawrence’s writing suggested. He faced several conflicts in the decade, until he was finally overthrown in 1867.

At the same time, a revived Anglo-African returned with a vengeance. Thomas and Robert Hamilton saw Redpath’s sharp turn to emigration as a breach of their original agreement. They brought the Anglo-African back in July 1861 with funding from James McCune Smith, Martin R. Delany, and others. The new paper joined Frederick Douglass’s Paper and the Provincial Freeman in levelling a  full-throated assault on Redpath and emigration.

Hamilton founded the Weekly Anglo-African as a black paper, run by black Americans for black Americans. Lawrence and Redpath produced a black paper, owned by a white agent, and financed by the Haitian government. Its articles and iconography centered Haiti, not the United States; its sense of citizenship was based in region, not a nation-state as such. Beyond the facts of publication, however, the swirl of events and writing surrounding the Weekly Anglo-African and Pine and Palm provide fruitful questions for the study of black periodicals, African American emigration movements, and black politics around the Civil War.

 

 

Emigration Movements in African American Politics and Culture

In its transition and rebranding, The Pine and Palm took up as one of its quintessential concerns black American emigration, but this was not the first time African Americans had taken up emigration in general or emigration to Haiti in particular.  By 1861 there had been several African American emigration movements. One of the earliest occurred in the wake of the American Revolutionary War and was spearheaded by English abolitionists such as Granville Sharp and Thomas Clarkson. After the war, England experienced a migratory influx of formerly enslaved black Americans, those loyalists who had fought on the side of the British and had been promised their freedom for doing so. Many of those new immigrants struggled to find work. They turned up homeless and destitute on the streets of London in the 1780s. Among the proposals bandied about by English philanthropists was the idea of creating a colony on the coast of what is today Sierra Leone where the population they termed the “Black Poor” could start over with land and opportunity. Canada also experienced an influx of black Americans. Again, after the Revolutionary War, some black Loyalists opted to relocate to Nova Scotia, where they experienced similar hardships as their counterparts in London. In the 1790s, many of them made their way to Sierra Leone. By the mid-19th century, the British had succeeded in constructing a viable space for black Americans to relocate – and extend their imperial reach.

In 1816, in the United States, the American Colonization Society (ACS) formed. Although the members of the organization had widely different reasons for supporting black emigration (some racist in nature), they eyed Sierra Leone as a potential space for relocating free-born and newly manumitted black Americans. Despite protests from some free-born black Americans, Paul Cuffee, the famed mixed-race Quaker and sea merchant, transported nearly 40 black American emigrants to Sierra Leone in 1816 with the intention of transporting more in subsequent years.[6] Ultimately, the ACS in 1822 chose to create its own colonies south of Sierra Leone that would become the independent country of Liberia 25 years later.

Throughout the early nineteenth century many black activists who had contemplated emigration previous to the founding of the ACS, including Richard Allen, vehemently protested emigration afterward, because the ACS premised emigration on the assumption that African descended people were inferior to and incompatible with the burgeoning white republic. David Walker famously dissected this logic  in his 1829 Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World, and the first Colored Conventions of the 1830s took the ACS as one of their primary targets. Nevertheless, Alexander Crummell, Mary Shadd Cary, and others found emigration to Liberia, Canada, and elsewhere a more promising alternative to hoping that the United States would abolish slavery. The passage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act accelerated emigration to Canada, and by the mid 1850s, both Martin R. Delany and Henry Highland Garnet had become vocal advocates of emigration even as they vehemently repudiated the ACS’s racist assumptions. Delany organized a National Emigration Convention in Cleveland, OH, in 1854 and led an expedition into Central Africa, while Garnet explored Jamaica as a potential new home before founding the African Civilization Society in 1858. Though its acronym was unfortunate, the African Civilization Society advocated for both emigration to and missionary work in Africa.

In contrast to emigration movements in Canada and West Africa, the advertisements, editorials, short stories, and circulars that filled the pages of The Pine and Palm focused almost exclusively on Haiti.[7] By 1861, Haiti had been an independent, majority-black nation for more than half a century, the first in the Western hemisphere. For those advocating emigration, Haiti was an ideal location for a number of reasons. Among them was its proximity to the United States. Black Americans would not have to travel far. Proponents also touted its natural resources. In their opening statement about the emigration question, The Pine and Palm editors describe Haiti as “the most fertile island in the New World” (2). They go on to call it a “natural paradise,” that needs only labor to “develop its exhaustless resources” (2). In a sense, they resurrected the rhetoric of New World “discovery” initiated by the likes of Christopher Columbus. Haiti, comprising half of the island that Columbus named Hispaniola (which also includes the Dominican Republic), was among the very first of those lands Columbus encountered and claimed on behalf of Spain in 1492. In his diary, Columbus describes Hispaniola as filled with “lofty and beautiful mountains, large cultivated tracts, woods, fertile fields, and every thing adapted to the purposes of agriculture.”[8]

Although Columbus imagined Hispaniola as a glittering jewel for Spain, the French actually capitalized on the region’s natural resources after usurping control in 1660. Over the course of more than two centuries, Haiti was the most lucrative of France’s American colonies, with extensive slave plantations that produced sugar, coffee, and cotton. The revolution that ended French domination of the island began in 1791 and concluded in 1804 with the emergence of the Republic of Haiti. For many onlookers, especially those black Africans scattered throughout the African Diaspora, the Haitian Revolution symbolized the potential for black African liberation, especially in the Western hemisphere. Haiti was a mother-country, the Queen of the Antilles beckoning her black children unto her liberatory bosom. In Haiti, black populations could enjoy in equal measure fertile land and liberty.

“The Coins of Hayti” from The Pine and Palm

Haitian emigration, though, was more than a call for a black nationalism. For some proponents, like Redpath and Lawrence, a successful all-black self-governing nation was a means – not an end unto itself – to dismantle racism and enslavement. For Redpath, the success of an independent Haiti would combat notions about the inferiority of black Africans and illustrate their intellectual, rational capacities. Europe and the United States would see this, he rationalized, and accept black Africans as racial equals. Beyond that, as Lawrence rationalized, Haiti’s economic influence could undercut the dominance of the U.S. cotton industry.

To entice black Americans to move to Haiti, in 1859 the Haitian government, with the support of agents (Redpath and Lawrence among them) and other advocates in the United States, provided a number of incentives. For example, they offered farmers and skilled workers deferred fares for their ship passage. If they stayed in Haiti for a minimum of three years and lived without government subsidies, their passage was free. Even the unskilled could get assistance with passage fare and their “first necessities” upon arrival in Haiti. Would-be emigrants were offered allotments of land and assistance with housing. All were promised paths to citizenship, or naturalization, within one year (16).

Of course, the question of emigration to Haiti did not begin with The Pine and Palm. Throughout the first half of the 19th century, black Americans contemplated and/or enacted emigration plans, especially in the 1820s when Haiti was under the rule of Jean-Pierre Boyer, who was president of Haiti from 1818 to 1843.[9] Two years after the Revolution ended and as a result of the assassination of the infant country’s first ruler, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Haiti split into halves with the Kingdom of Haiti in the north and the Republic, or State, of Haiti in the south, led by King Henri (Christophe) I and President Alexandre Pétion, respectively. Upon the deaths of these leaders, both of whom had been key figures in the Revolution, Boyer assumed power and unified the country under one rule in 1821.[10] As president, he welcomed the immigration of black Americans to Haiti. In 1824, he collaborated with the American Colonization Society to transport some 6,000 black Americans, most of them free-born, to Haiti. The plan met with mixed success as many of those who migrated chose to return to the United States in a matter of years. They did so for a number of reasons, which included economic instability in Haiti and the fact that many black Americans identified with the United States and ultimately gravitated back toward their native homes. These same reasons made emigration a debatable point, rather than a foregone conclusion, in the pages of The Pine and Palm in 1861.

 

 

Black Heroism and Haiti in the Pine and Palm

With its emigrationist orientation, The Pine and Palm sought to keep its readers abreast of the current efforts of the Haytian Bureau of Emigration, sanctioned by President Guillaume Fabre Nicolas Geffrard and headed by Redpath. We can see that Redpath, himself, continued to have a prominent voice in the pages of the newspaper. Circulars of the Emigration Bureau and Laws on emigration and naturalization appear in our selections here, as well as a call for emigration penned by Haiti’s Secretary of State of Justice, François-Élie Dubois. Frederick Douglass’s proposed trip to Haiti was significant and Douglass’ prominence as a black intellectual makes his appearance in The Pine and Palm unsurprising.

As The Pine and Palm celebrated Haiti, it also highlighted the nation’s revolutionary history and its founding. In a context in which black accomplishment was seldom celebrated, documented, or taught by mainstream white educators, nineteenth-century African American writers were foundational authors of early black history. Biographies of famous black people appeared throughout the black press, and Toussaint L’Ouverture was a popularly-featured icon. William Wells Brown’s 1863 The Black Man: His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievement and 1867 The Negro in the American Rebellion are examples of early black histories detailing “Celebrated Colored Americans.” Before then, his sketches of L’Ouverture and Madison Washington appeared in the Pine and Palm. Both entries, when contextualized in the Pine and Palm, connect Haiti and emigration to Haiti to a long black revolutionary tradition.

As with the need for written histories, the need for other kinds of black representation was evident in a landscape in which black people more often appeared in white-created derogatory representations that caricatured black people. Educator and activist William J. Wilson imagined a gallery of black-created art in the “Afric-American Picture Gallery,” a series published in seven installments in the Anglo-African Magazine in 1859.[11] Wilson’s imagine gallery included busts of famous black leaders, including L’Ouverture. Also responding to this need for a non-derogatory “picture gallery” of black people, the portraits that appeared on the front pages of The Pine and Palm for May 18 and 25 and June 15, 1861 offer visual representations of prominent black military and political icons, a new set of “founding fathers.” The editors called the first of these, a portrait of Toussaint L’Ouverture, “the only correct likeness of him ever published in America.” This image was taken from an engraving Redpath may have gathered during his time in the country.[12] Other images reproduced in the selections here included Geffrard and General Joseph Lamothe. In addition to Haitian dignitaries, the front page of the June 8, 1861 issue also provided images of Haitian currency. These images and narratives, then, were both edificatory and educational: raising a black nationalist consciousness even as it educated readers on Haitian history and governance and economics.

 

 

Poetry and Fiction: The Literary “Parlor” and Literature in the Black Press

 

In addition to their political and historical importance, the Weekly Anglo-African and Pine and Palm offer case studies for thinking about the centrality of periodicals to the production and dissemination of literature. Nineteenth-century newspapers often contained a variety of genres, from news stories, essays, and editorials, to brief histories, biographical sketches, and advice columns, to short stories, serialized novels, and poetry. Newspapers published well-known and celebrated authors’ work as well as pieces that appeared under pseudonyms and sometimes  anonymously. Periodicals of the era also practiced what Meredith McGill has called a “culture of reprinting,” widely circulating texts beyond their original venues, sometimes with and sometimes without attributing their original sources.[13] Occasionally, a piece’s first publication would be noted by a phrase such as “Written for The Pine and Palm.” Such is the case with Harper’s “Household Words” and Brown’s sketch of Madison Washington.

Like other nineteenth-century U.S. periodicals, African American periodicals of the era published a breadth of genres and participated in the culture of reprinting texts from other publications. Black newspapers, including the Pine and Palm and Weekly Anglo-African, also sometimes reprinted white-authored texts, offering interesting recontextualizations of these when considered in the context of African American print culture.[14] Still, early African American newspapers like the Weekly Anglo-African and The Pine and Palm were dedicated to highlighting the work of black writers. Authors such as William Wells Brown and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper would have been well-known to readers of the black press at this time.

The literature that appeared in the Weekly Anglo-African and The Pine and Palm represents some of the most important African American literature of the nineteenth century. In part due to its short form and the ease of including it in the pages of a newspaper, poetry appeared regularly in early African American newspapers and in nineteenth-century newspapers, more generally. While many poems were published anonymously, others included the by-lines of well-known poets.[15] Harper was the best known African American poet of the century. Her work was widely circulated in the black press and elsewhere. Longer-form literature like novels also frequently appeared, in serialized form. Not all novels that were serialized in nineteenth-century newspapers were subsequently published in monograph book form. Some serialized novels appeared as monographs only much later, as such work was “recovered” or “rediscovered” by later readers, sometimes by academics who produced scholarly editions of such texts for classroom teaching in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. Because well-funded libraries and archives that collected newspapers were usually white-run and collectors did not value black newspapers in the same ways that they valued white publications, there are not complete archived runs of many nineteenth-century African American newspapers, including the Christian Recorder, the Weekly Anglo-African, and The Pine and Palm. As a result, some novels that were published in serialized form (like Frances Harper’s novels published in the Christian Recorder) are missing chapters that appeared in the issues we no longer have. This is the case for Martin Delany’s novel, Blake, or the Huts of America, which was serialized in the Anglo-African Magazine in 1859 and the revived Anglo-African between 1861 and 1862 and was not published in book form until 1970. William Wells Brown’s novel, Miralda; or, the Beautiful Quadroon, was serialized in the Weekly Anglo-African from December 15, 1860, to March 16, 1861. Miralda was a revision of Brown’s 1853 novel, Clotel; or the President’s Daughter, which he also revised in two other monograph editions, published in 1864 and 1867.[16] At the time of this writing, Miralda still does not exist in monograph form.

Periodicals also provide a wealth of writing by women and children’s literature for which we have yet to fully account. Many nineteenth-century newspapers included “Parlor” or “Women’s Corner” sections, with content specifically aimed at women readers. Such sections might include advice columns, religious writing, fiction, poetry, news stories, discussions of domestic concerns, or writing intended for children. The call, by women, for such a section to be created in The Pine and Palm is therefore fitting with other newspapers’ practices of the time. Selections provided here include such calls from women writing in to The Pine and Palm, and they invite us to think about the ways women framed and organized themselves in print communities. Women-authored contributions, however, were not simply relegated to “women’s” or “parlor” portions of the paper, however, even in newspapers that designated such sections. As a single copy of the newspaper would be shared by several members of a household or even across households, reading practices most definitely resulted in readers’ consumption of various content even from sections of the paper not explicitly intended or framed for them based on assumptions about gender or age.

 

 

*          *          *

 

 

The histories of the first iteration of the Weekly Anglo-African and the Pine and Palm remind us that newspaper publication was (and continues to be) a messy business, and we need not smooth out that messiness. Rather than reconcile these tensions—in editorship, mission, financing, politics, articulations of blackness, etc.—the selections we offer here invite us to probe them for what they can teach us about an intensely active and highly collaborative black print public.

 

Further Reading

On African Americans and Emigration Movements

Dillon, Elizabeth Maddock and Michael J. Drexler, eds. The Haitian Revolution and the Early United States: Histories, Textualities, Geographies. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016.

Dixon, Chris. African America and Haiti: Emigration and Black Nationalism in the Nineteenth Century. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2000.

Durrance, Ashley; Hannah Harkins; Nicholas Palombo; Leslie Rewis; Melanie Berry; Christy Hutcheson; Eli Jones; and Morgan Shaffer; Curators. “To Stay or Go: The National Emigration Convention of 1854.” Taught by Benjamin Fagan. Edited by Samantha Q. de Vera, Simone Austin, and Sarah Patterson. Colored Conventions: Bringing Nineteenth-Century Black Organizing to Digital Life. Fall 2016. http://coloredconventions.org/exhibits/show/conventions-black-press.

Fanning, Sara. Caribbean Crossing: African Americans and the Haitian Emigration Movement.  New York: New York University Press, 2015.

McKivigan, John. Forgotten Firebrand: James Redpath and the Making of Nineteenth-Century America. Cornell University Press, 2008.

Power-Greene, Ousmane K. Against the Wind and Tide: The African American Struggle Against the Colonization Movement. New York: New York University Press, 2014.

 

On Haiti, the Haitian Revolution, and Early African American Literature

Bernier, Celeste-Marie. Characters of Blood: Black Heroism In The Transatlantic Imagination. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012.

Clavin, Matthew J. Toussaint Louverture and the American Civil War: The Promise and Peril of a Second Haitian Revolution. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania University Press, 2010.

Daut, Marlene Tropics of Haiti: Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1789-1865. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2015.

Dayan, Colin (Joan). Haiti, History, and the Gods. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Dubois, Laurent. Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005.

—. A Colony Of Citizens: Revolution & Slave Emancipation In The French Caribbean, 1787-1804. Chapel Hill: University Of North Carolina Press, 2004.

Foster, Frances Smith. “How do you Solve a Problem Like ‘Theresa?’” African American Review 40.4 (Winter 2006): 631-645.

Levine, Robert S. Dislocating Race and Nation: Episodes in Nineteenth-Century American Literary Nationalism. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008.

Nwankwo, Ifeoma. Black Cosmopolitanism: Racial Consciousness and Transnational Identity in the Nineteenth-Century Americas. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.

 

 

On the Weekly Anglo-African, the Hamilton Brothers, and Early African American Periodicals

Bacon, Jacqueline. Freedom’s Journal: The First African American Newspaper. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007.

Bullock, Penelope L. The Afro-American Periodical Press, 1838-1909. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981.

Capshaw, Katharine and Anna Mae Duane, eds. Who Writes for Black Children? African American Children’s Literature before 1900. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017.

Chiles, Katy. “Within and without the Raced Nation: Intratextuality, Martin Delany, and Blake; or the Huts of America.” American Literature 80 no. 2 (2008): 323-352.

Clifton, James. The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988.

Ernest, John. Liberation Historiography: African American Writers and the Challenge of History, 1794-1861. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

Gardner, Eric. Black Print Unbound: The Christian Recorder, African American Literature, and Periodical Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.

—. Unexpected Places: Relocating Nineteenth-Century African American Literature. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2009.

Jackson, Debra. “A Black Journalist in Civil War Virginia: Robert Hamilton and the ‘Anglo- African.’”Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 116.1 (2008): 42–72.

—. “‘A Cultural Stronghold’: The Anglo-African Newspaper and the Black Community of New York.” New York History 85.4 (Fall 2004): 331-357.

Penn, I. Garland. The Afro-American Press and Its Editors. Salem, New Hampshire: Ayer Company, Publishers, 1891.

Pride, Amistead S. and Clint C. Wilson. A History of the Black Press. Washington, DC: Howard Univ Press, 1987.

Soderberg, Laura. “One More Time with Feeling: Repetition, Reparation, and the Sentimental Subject in William Wells Brown’s Rewritings of Clotel,”American Literature 88.2 (June 2016): 241-267.

Tripp, Bernell E. “Like Father, Like Son: The Antislavery Legacy of William Hamilton,” Seeking a Voice: Images of Race and Gender in the 19th Century Press. Edited by David B. Sachsman et. Al. Purdue University press, 2009:  97-106.

Wilson, Ivy G. “The Brief Wondrous Life of the Anglo- African Magazine: Or, Antebellum African American Editorial Practice and Its Afterlives.” Publishing Blackness: Textual Constructions of Race since 1850. Eds. George Hutchinson and John K. Young. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013: 18–38.

Bullock, Penelope L. The Afro-American Periodical Press, 1838–1909. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981.

Fagan, Benjamin. The Black Newspaper and the Chosen Nation. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2016.

 

Primary Sources

American Society of Free Persons of Colour (1830: Philadelphia, PA), “Constitution of the American Society of Free Persons of Colour, for improving their condition in the United States; for purchasing lands; and for the establishment of a settlement in upper Canada, also, The Proceedings of the Convention with their Address to Free Persons of Colour in the United States,” ColoredConventions.org, accessed April 4, 2018, http://coloredconventions.org/items/show/70.

Brown, William Wells. 1863. The Black Man, His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements. New York: Thomas Hamilton. Documenting the American South. Chapel Hill: University Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1999. http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/brownww/brown.html.

Delany, Martin R. Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People in the United States Politically Considered. Philadelphia: King and Laird, 1852.

National Emigration Convention of Colored People (1854: Cleveland, OH), “Proceedings of the National Emigration Convention of Colored People Held at Cleveland, Ohio, On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, The 24th, 25th, and 26th of August, 1854,” ColoredConventions.org, accessed May 24, 2018, http://coloredconventions.org/items/show/314.

Redpath, James. A Guide to Hayti. Boston: Haytian Bureau of Emigration, 1861.

—. The Roving Editor, Or, Talks with Slaves in the Southern States[1859], ed. John R. McKivigan. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996.

“To Emigrate or Remain at Home? 1773-1833” in Early Negro Writing, 1760-1837, edited by Dorothy Porter, 249-307. Baltimore: Black Classic Press, 1995.

 

[1] See Thomas Hamilton to John Jay, 27 May 1859, Black Abolitionist Papers, ed. C. Peter Ripley (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press), 26-27; and Fagan, Black Newspaper, 122-125.

[2] McKivigan, Forgotten Firebrand, 69.

[3] This triumvirate might be deceptive in its representation of a collaborative relationship, though. John McKivigan’s biography of Redpath suggests that Redpath was dictatorial in approach to his correspondents—an apparent polar opposite to Hamilton. His biography is the best source of information on Redpath. See McKivigan, Forgotten Firebrand, 69-82.

[4] Redpath’s publisher was Thayer and Eldridge, who also published the 1860/61 edition of Leaves of Grass.

[5] George T. Garrison, William Lloyd Garrison’s brother, likely printed both papers.

[6] Cuffee died a year later. The ACS, while it managed to convince several thousand black Africans to migrate to Liberia over a 20-year period, failed ultimately to effect its mass colonization plan. Many African Americans were skeptical and cynical about black emigration and colonization, among them the abolitionist-writer David Walker and, later, Frederick Douglass.

[7] This makes sense because, as mentioned earlier, the newspaper was an outlet for the Haitian Emigration Bureau.

[8] See Columbus’s Personal Narrative of the First voyage of Columbus to America. (Boston: Thomas B. Wait and Son, 1827), 243.

[9] As one example, when the former slave and merchant Denmark Vesey plotted a slave revolt in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1822, the plot included the mass emigration of the city’s black population to Haiti. Vesey assumed the country would welcome them as refugees. The revolt failed and Vesey was executed.

[10] For a brief period, beginning in 1822, he unified all of Hispaniola, including present-day Dominican Republic.

[11] Ethiop (William J. Wilson), “Afric-American Picture Gallery,” Just Teach One: Early African American Print no. 2 (Fall 2015), edited and introduced by Leif Eckstrom and Britt Rusert.

[12] Matthew J. Clavin, Toussaint Louverture and the American Civil War: The Promise and Peril of a Second Haitian Revolution, (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania University Press, 2010), 46.

[13] See Meredith McGill. American Literature and the Culture of Reprinting, 1834-53. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003).

[14] Eric Gardner examines this phenomenon with relation to material reprinted in the “children” and “family” sections of the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s weekly newspaper, the Christian Recorder. See Eric Gardner, “Children’s Literature in the Christian Recorder: An Initial Comparative Bibliography for May 1862 and April 1873” in Who Writes for Black Children: African American Children’s Literature before 1900. Ed. Katharine Capshaw and Anna Mae Duane (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017), 225-245.

[15] On poetry in nineteenth-century American newspapers, see Ryan Cordell and Abby Mullen, ““Fugitive Verses”: The Circulation of Poems in Nineteenth-Century American Newspapers.” American Periodicals: A Journal of History & Criticism, vol. 27 no. 1 (2017): 29-52. Project MUSE, muse.jhu.edu/article/652267.

[16] For a comparison of these editions, see Samantha Marie Sommers, “A Tangled Text: William Wells Brown’s Clotel (1853, 1860, 1864, 1867).”  Undergraduate Thesis, Wesleyan University, 2009 and Clotel: An Electronic Scholarly Edition, Ed. Christopher Mulvey, (University of Virginia Press, 2006.)

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