The Philanthropist

The Philanthropist August 9, 1844

The Philanthropist July 9, 1842

 The Philanthropist, an anti-slavery newspaper, was published in Cincinnati from 1836 through 1847. (After 1843 it was titled Cincinnati Weekly Herald and Philanthropist.)    The paper is an invaluable primary source document for events that took place in Hamilton County during those years.

Its first hand accounts of anti-slavery conventions in Mt. Pleasant are our best documentation available on those meetings. The Philanthropist did not limit itself to local reporting; Birney and Bailey reported newsworthy items from around the country and even internationally. It started as an independent anti-slavery publication that achieved a wide circulation in the midwest. After the formation of the Liberty Party in Ohio, The Philanthropist  became the official publication of that organization.

“The Philanthropist occupies a peculiar position. In a certain sense, it is the organ of two State Anti-Slavery Societies, of the Ohio Liberty Party, and of the Ohio Ladies’ Education Society. That is to say, it is a journal through which Anti-Slavery people, of all sorts, can utter their sentiments, freely.”

In an effort to appear balanced and possibly defuse some of the intense hostility, editor Bailey went on the invite the pro-slavery interests to send in their articles in defense of slavery:

“Nay, more, – we offer our paper, in the same sense, as an organ to the slaveholders. In its columns, they shall be heard in defence of that which we abhor. ..If slaveholders find so little said in our columns in defence of their peculiar institiutions, they may thank themselves for it. We have again and again invited them to free discussion.” (Philanthropist, July 9, 1842)

The Philanthropist was co-edited by James G. Birney (1792-1857) and Gamaliel Bailey, Jr. (1807 – 1859) and published by Achilles Pugh. Pro-slavery mobs twice attacked the offices of The Philanthropist and damaged the printing press during 1836, but production was quickly resumed. So intense was the hostility toward anti-slavery in Cincinnati that Birney removed the offices of the paper for a short time to New Richmond, but before long returned to Cincinnati.

After a short time Bailey took over as sole editor of the paper, while Birney tirelessly moved around the country organizing anti-slavery associations and running for President on the Liberty Party ticket. In 1847, Bailey moved on to edit the abolitionist paper National Era in Washington DC. His offices were attacked by pro-slavery mobs and in 1848 the paper’s staff were trapped in the office by a mob for three days. This paper first published Uncle Tom’s Cabin in serial form in 1851-52. (Encyclopedia Brittanica)

Karen Arnett, February 2014


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