Samuel Eli Cornish (Robert Case)

Speech given at the closing dinner of the Spring Conference for African American Journalists of Faith for the inaugeration of the Samuel Eli Cornish Memorial lectures (Atlanta, GA, April 30, 2005)

By Robert Case

Samuel Cornish was born in Sussex County, Delaware, in l795 to a free family.[1] In 1815 at the age of 20, he moved to Philadelphia, where he was picked to be tutored for the gospel ministry by members of Philadelphia’s Presbyterian leadership. The leader of these tutors was John Gloucester, an African-American minister who had come from Nashville to found the first black Presbyterian church in the United States, First African Presbyterian Church. Gloucester himself was privately tutored in Philadelphia by the great theologian Archibald Alexander, pastor of Third Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, who in a couple of years would begin Princeton Theological Seminary.[2] John Gloucester was gravely ill at the time with tuberculosis, which eventually killed him in 1822, so Cornish gained practical experience filling in for his mentor at First African Presbyterian Church.

Cornish was formally licensed to preach in Philadelphia in 1819, and then spent a year as a Presbyterian missionary to slaves in Maryland's Eastern Shore. In 1820 he was recruited by New York City evangelical Presbyterians to move to New York City to minister to poor blacks in the Bancker Street (now Duane Street) area of lower east side Manhattan. To give you an idea of the type of area in which Cornish was moving, in the late 1820s, the Bancker family took their name off the street because the neighborhood was declining so rapidly.

Cornish set up a rough-hewn church, held two or three services there on Sunday, conducted a Sunday school, gave theological lectures, held prayer meetings and visited families in their homes. In 1822, when John Gloucester died, Samuel Eli Cornish was formally ordained by the New York Presbytery and drew together 24 initial members into the New Demeter Street Presbyterian Church, the first African-American (“colored”) Presbyterian church in New York City. In 1824, with loans from the New York Presbytery and financial aid from Jacob P. Lorillard, New York City tobacco merchant, Cornish built and settled into a brick home on Elm Street near Canal Street in lower Manhattan with his new wife Jane. [3] The house also served as the church building. Elm Street is now Lafayette Street and there is an African-American burial ground and monument in the immediate area open to all.

Rev. Cornish soon tested the limits of white Presbyterian support when he refused to draw sharp lines between his theology and his political concerns. Preaching and writing out of a Christian worldview, Cornish began speaking out against the American Colonization Society (ACS)[4] and then in l827, when he was 32, he took an even more decisive step. For almost 10 years the city’s white press had cooperated with the ACS by refusing to print the anti-colonization resolutions passed by black gatherings in New York City. Cornish now met with a small group of prominent black pastors,[5] and in March 1827 the group launched Freedom’s Journal, the first black newspaper in the United States. By July, Freedom's Journal had over 1200 paid subscribers ($3/year) with perhaps several more thousand reading at least parts of each weekly issue. Eventually, the paper would be distributed in 11 states, Haiti and Europe by a team of sales agents numbering at times 45.

Freedom’s Journal covered activities in the broad African-American United States community. It was funded by advertisements (costing from 25 to 75 cents) from local black businessmen, as well as subscription revenue. Its pages presented a portrait of the African-American community strikingly at variance with the negative picture promulgated by the mainstream press, owned and edited by white Americans. It wasn't that Freedom's Journal denied the existence of a rougher element in the black community, but Cornish noted, among other verifiable facts, that whites constituted, a proportionately larger percentage of poor house residents than blacks.[6] As a Christian, Cornish deplored coarse conduct by unrefined and uneducated blacks, which he attributed to slavery, but he believed African-Americans should be edified, not exiled to Liberia like the ACS wanted. Freedom’s Journal exhorted its readers to eschew “loose and depraved habits” and cultivate sobriety, industry, honesty and self-discipline. Cornish hailed education and Christian conversion as a way to overcome economic deprivation. The paper ran inspirational biographies, published articles on the black revolution in Haiti, which it supported, and stated that “everything that relates to Africa, shall find a ready admission into our columns.” The paper still opposed repatriation or colonization to Africa.

Freedom’s Journal did not hesitate to criticize whites and denounce racism. The paper called for the abolition of property requirements for black voters and courageously condemned fellow Presbyterians for excluding blacks from some church-connected schools. Most controversially, Cornish demanded the immediate abolition of slavery. While Cornish did not advocate a slave rebellion, his 1827 call for immediate abolition of property requirements for African-Americans voters, was an advanced position—one that not even the white William Lloyd Garrison would adopt until 1830.

Cornish rejected colonization because he believed it was based on the conviction that African-Americans could never win the respect of their white countrymen: “To concede so much to prejudice is to deify prejudice.” Intent on setting the facts straight and rehabilitating the black race in the eyes of the world, Cornish presented arguments from a Christian perspective on the color of humankind in the creation account, the genealogical descent of black people in the Bible, and the ethnological status of the Biblical Egyptians.

Theodore S. Wright called Freedom's Journal a “clap of thunder” as a forum for free black thought. The discussion of racial subjects in Freedom's Journal set the broad outlines for African-American discourse on these subjects for decades. Indeed, within thirty years there would be over forty black-owned and edited newspapers in the United States.

Influential white Presbyterian clergymen were upset by Cornish’s denunciation of the ACS and by what they deemed his insufficient appreciation of their altruism. This created an awkward situation at a time when Cornish was visiting white congregations to solicit funds for his New Demeter Street Presbyterian Church.

In September 1827, having completed his agreed-upon six months as managing editor, Cornish resigned from the Freedom’s Journal and accepted a position as agent of the African Free Schools, in which he was to visit black families and impress upon them the importance of education, if need be, in separate black schools.

Several months later, in 1828, Cornish also withdrew as pastor of New Demeter Street Presbyterian Church and became an itinerant preacher and missionary. In 1830 he returned to Philadelphia and briefly pastored his old congregation at First African Presbyterian Church, where he had gotten his start over a decade earlier under John Gloucester.

Cornish was succeeded at New Demeter Street (later named Shiloh Presbyterian Church) by Theodore Sedgwick Wright (b. 1797). In 1825, Wright had been admitted into Princeton Theological Seminary, where he served as a Freedom's Journal sales agent. At Princeton, Wright studied under such prominent scholars as Archibald Alexander (1772-1851), Samuel Miller (1769-1850) and Charles Hodge (1797-1878). Alexander, Miller and Hodge were men of deep personal piety whose formal theology combined emphases of European Calvinism and the Scottish philosophic school of common-sense reasoning. Upon graduating in l828 (as the first African-American alumnus of a theological seminary in the United States and only the third alumnus from a U.S. college), Wright joined the Presbytery of New York and followed Cornish as the pastor of First Demeter Street Presbyterian Church.

Freedom’s Journal, meanwhile, had fared poorly after Samuel Cornish left. In l828, it ceased publication after 103 issues. Noting this, Cornish started a new paper to replace Freedom’s Journal called the Rights of All, but it lasted only six months. Before its demise, however, Rights of All blasted the colonization movement as being sub-Christian.

White New York City evangelicals joined the black anti-slavery ministers in part because they felt comfortable with their conservative religious values as well as their shared belief in temperance and self-improvement. In l833 for instance, Rev. Cornish and Rev. Wright founded the Phoenix Society of New York, declaring that the condition of “people of colour” could “only be meliorated by their being improved in morals, literature and the mechanical arts.”

This unusual degree of friendship between middle class black and white evangelicals in New York City helped galvanize the anti-slavery movement. In 1833, Black evangelical ministers in New York, including Cornish,[7] were brought together with white evangelical ministers[8] by New York silk merchant Arthur Tappan (brother of Lewis Tappan, and an early funder of the Sunday school movement) to lead an integrated anti-slavery organization called the New York Anti-Slavery Society with its own publication, The Emancipator.

In 1837, with ink still in his blood, Cornish started yet another newspaper called Colored American.  The Colored American was America’s most important African-American newspaper between 1839 and 1842. It was published in New York City (9 Spruce Street) but circulated in free black communities up and down the northern seaboard. The paper, heavily subsidized by Arthur Tappan,[9] editorialized in the first issue on a suitable name for the African American community.

“Let us and our friends unite in baptizing the term 'colored Americans' and henceforth let us be written of, preached of, and prayed for as such. It is a true term, and one which is above reproach.  Our brethren in Philadelphia are quarreling over trifles, while our enemies are robbing them of diamonds and gold…. While these sages are frightened to death at the idea of being called 'colored,' their friends and foes …call them nothing else but 'negroes,' 'negroes,' the 'negroes of Pennsylvania.' You are 'colored Americans.' The indians are "red Americans" and the white people are "white Americans" and you are as good as they and they are no better than you - God has made all of the same blood." (“Our Brethren in Philadelphia," 3/15/38).[10]

Cornish’s Calvinist theology shaped his social and political philosophy for he was more conservative in his views than many of his younger contemporaries. For example, in an 1837 Colored American editorial he was part of a minority opposing the use of demonstrations and force to resist the enforcement of the fugitive slave laws.[11] His theological understanding of the common fall and offer of redemption to all men caused an increasing divide between the pioneer spokesman and his acolytes.

Ever the family man, in 1838 Cornish moved his family to Belleville, New Jersey, hoping to raise his children in an environment less prejudiced than New York City. The story is told that Cornish was refused a cup of tea in a restaurant patronized by the editors of the American Bible Society, the Track Society and the workers who put out the New Evangelist on the excuse that the restaurant's "customers would not put up with" with drinking with a negro (Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol, Nell Painter, 1997). Tragedy struck, however, when his younger son Samuel drowned later that year. At the same time, the Colored American was in financial straits and Cornish's salary was unpaid. He eventually resigned the editorship in the middle of 1839,[12] and the Colored American ceased publication on Christmas Day, 1841.

Around 1840, Cornish moved to Newark, New Jersey, where he pastored yet another church for a brief time.

In 1844, after his wife Jane died, Cornish moved his family back to New York City where he organized Emmanuel Church, which he pastored until 1847. His older daughter Sarah died in 1846, and his younger daughter, Jane Sophia Tappan, became very ill in 1851 and died insane in 1855.  His elder son, William C.(b.1826) immigrated to Liberia in 1846 as a teacher. He lived in the Maryland section of Liberia until his death (African Repository, Vol. 22, No. 10, pg. 304).

In 1855, Cornish, in very poor health himself, moved to Brooklyn, where he died in 1858 at the age of 62.

Conclusion:

Historians argue that Samuel Cornish was primarily as an anti-slavery activist and leader. And he was.

So why does a journalism organization like the World Journalism Institute which equips journalists who are Christian to enter the mainstream newsrooms celebrate the life and example of Samuel Eli Cornish? And why should today’s Christian journalist appreciate the churchman Rev. Samuel Eli Cornish?

Let me offer four reasons he is important to us and you:

First, Cornish was a journalist who was a Christian who had the courage and convictions to engage the media culture of his day in order to report the truth to his community.

Second, Cornish was a man who loved the church and was never far from ministering to his community.

Third, Cornish was a journalist who believed that his theology informed his worldview and he boldly but lovingly acted on those Christian assumptions.

Fourth, those of us in the media who trace our theological understanding back to the 19th century Princeton Theological Seminary worthies are encouraged to know that one of us moved in those distinguished circles at the very beginning of that great institution.

As we evaluate what we know of Samuel Eli Cornish I believe that journalists who are Christian can take appropriate inspiration in this man's effort to integrate his Christian convictions and the calling of journalism. If you are a journalist and a Christian, the legacy of Samuel Cornish belongs to you.


 



[1] Early on, the number of free blacks in Delaware grew, representing the vast majority of Delaware's African-American population and a significant portion of the total state population. By 1790, Kent County registered 2,570 free African Americans, compared to New Castle County's 639, and Sussex County's 600. During the early 1800s, opposition to slavery led slaveholders to increase the numbers of those who were given their freedom. As a result of that trend, half of the black population (or 14% of the total state population of 1,800) consisted of free blacks. By 1810, Delaware supported a larger proportion of free people in its African-American population (76%) than New York or New Jersey.

[2] The first black Presbyterian preacher was John Chavis, who was taught on his master’s plantation. This was at the end of the 18th century. Soon afterwards, John Gloucester, who would later become the pastor of the first American black Presbyterian congregation (1807) and Samuel Cornish’s mentor, earned his freedom. Gloucester was the first missionary sent out from New Providence Presbyterian Church (Maryville, Tenn.) to Philadelphia in 1807. He was an emancipated slave educated by Gideon Blackburn and ordained as a minister in the Presbytery of Union in 1810. White Presbyterians worked to obtain Gloucester's release from slavery. This achievement was partially due to the efforts of Dr. Benjamin Rush (1745-1813), a white physician and American founding father, who wanted to help the black community and who believed that it was cheaper and better to build them churches than to build them jails. The Rev. Archibald Alexander, pastor of Third Presbyterian Church, wished to help create a separate African-American Presbyterian church as early as 1806, and began training Gloucester. After being set free by Rev. Blackburn and undergoing strict biblical teaching from Dr. Alexander, Gloucester founded the First African Presbyterian Church, which erected its first building in 1810. By touring Europe and giving lectures on the perils of American slavery, Gloucester was able to raise the necessary funds to purchase his wife out of bondage. Before his death in 1822, Gloucester had four sons; each trained for the ministry at Princeton. His eldest son, Jeremiah, founded Second African Presbyterian Church in 1824. In 1844, his second son, Stephen, founded Central Presbyterian Church (later, Lombard Street Central Presbyterian Church).

[3] In 1824 Cornish married Jane Livingston (d. 1844). The couple had four children: Sarah Matilda (1824-1846), William (b. 1826), Samuel (1828-1838), and Jane Sophia Tappan (1833-1855).

[4] The War of 1812 against England ended in 1815. An anti-slavery movement erupted right after the war ended. One manifestation was the organization of manumission societies which promoted voluntary release of slaves to freedom. Each side was overwhelmed with a sense of urgency, believing the foundation was being laid for either the eventual elimination or the permanent entrenchment of slavery.

The Presbyterian General Assembly of 1815 responded immediately by issuing a pronouncement that buying and selling of slaves is inconsistent with the spirit of the gospel. The Southern clergy generally in the immediate post-war era was promoting the elimination of slavery. The pro-slavery faction had the advantage of the Constitution on its side since the elimination of slavery would require a constitutional amendment. This happened eventually in December 1865 through the 13th amendment. The only two proposals which the anti-slavery forces could offer in 1815 were voluntary manumission and repatriation of slaves in Africa. Dr. Samuel Hopkins (pastor of First Congregational Church of Newport, Rhode Island) is recognized as the father of the anti-slavery movement in America. In 1776 he proposed to transport as many slaves as possible to a colony in Africa. In 1816 President James Monroe, Daniel Webster, and Henry Clay promoted the formation of the American Society for the Colonization of Free People of Color in the United States. The Congress purchased land in what became Liberia.

In 1819 the Presbyterian General Assembly endorsed the colonization organization. The planter class coveted for slavery all the new territories that might be created. An immediate major issue was the slavery status of additional prospective states in the Louisiana Territory. In 1818, America began committing itself to compromise on the slavery issue as the Congress began debate on the Missouri Compromise. Since 1812 Dr. Isaac Anderson had been the pastor of New Providence Church in Maryville, Tenn. He had been a student under Dr. Samuel Carrick, a strong Calvinist who built the first Presbyterian church in Tennessee and who was the founding president of the University of Tennessee. Since then Dr. Anderson had become a Hopkinsian under the indoctrination of his predecessor at New Providence Church, Dr. Gideon Blackburn (who had earlier freed John Gloucester).

The slavery controversy reached a grand climax in the General Assembly of 1818. The emotion of the issue had been brewing in the General Assembly since 1815 when a young Virginia Presbyterian minister, George Bourne, had published in 1815 a rabid anti-slavery book. Bourne was a fiery, bitter, intransigent, and indomitable opponent of slavery. Two of his beliefs were that slave-holding members should be ejected immediately from the church and that slave-holding ministers were blasphemous. William Lloyd Garrison claimed he received more inspiration from Bourne's book than any other book except the Bible. After the publication of his book, Bourne's Virginia presbytery deposed him. The Bourne case came to the General Assembly in 1816. The assembly remanded the case to presbytery for further study. The presbytery and synod deposed Bourne again. The case was taken up again in an early session of the General Assembly of 1818. After a long debate, the General Assembly sustained the Presbytery this time. Rev. Bourne was deposed for heresy.

The docket for the 1818 General Assembly also included a strong anti-slavery resolution containing the following main points: slavery is a violation of the social rights of human nature, is utterly inconsistent with the Law of God, and is irreconcilable with the principles of the gospel of Christ. The GA exhorted Christians to efface the blot on holy religion of slavery anywhere. It urged the instruction of slaves and the discontinuance of cruelty, particularly in the separation of families. It forbade a Presbyterian church member to sell any slave without the slave's consent.  The anti-slavery resolution was scheduled in a late session. A side agreement arose in the assembly to pass the resolution unanimously. As for the pro-slavery delegates who had led the effort to depose Bourne: those who could not conscientiously vote for the resolution left the assembly early to avoid voting; some were willing to vote for anything after Bourne was deposed; and some who objected to Bourne's radical tactics could conscientiously vote for the resolution. The recorded vote on the resolution was unanimous in favor. However, this really just covered up a very serious rift in the assembly on the slavery issue.

In 1819 a resolution to support returning slaves voluntarily to Africa was passed.

But there was such a rift that no Presbyterian General Assembly took up the slavery issue for nearly thirty years after 1819. The seeds of the later separation of the Presbyterian Church into the Old School (Southern Presbyterians) and the New School (Northern Presbyterians) were already planted by 1818.

[5] That included John Russworm (the first African-American to earn a U.S. college degree), William Hamilton (1773-1836, pastor of AME Zion Church) and Peter Williams, Jr. (1786-1840, pastor of St. Philips African Episcopal Church).

[6] And while he conceded that the per capita number of blacks in prison was higher than whites, he argued that “the coloured man’s offense, three out of four, grows out of the circumstances of his condition, while the white man’s most generally, is premeditated and vicious.”

[7] Such Black Presbyterians as Cornish, Theodore Wright, James W.C. Pennington, Henry Highland Garnet, and the Episcopalian Peter Williams:

James W.C, Pennington (1809-1870) was pastor of a Presbyterian church in Brooklyn. He had started as a slave in Maryland. He fled as a young man to Connecticut because slavery had been abolished here, and he eventually became a minister at the Talcott Street Church, Hartford, Conn. He studied at Yale and also later during a stay at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. Pennington was an abolitionist lecturer, and a representative of the Connecticut Anti-Slavery Society and Union Mission Society.  One of Pennington's efforts was his publication of an anti-slavery newspaper called The Clarksonian. The first issue was published in 1843, and it was intended as a means to keep in touch with fellow abolitionists during his travels. The first issue began with a long letter to Thomas Clarkson of Ipswich, England, and hence the name, Clarksonian. He notes that “many [white Christians] who are not avowedly abolitionists are ashamed of direct opposition." Pennington wrote, "I am still more seriously convinced of the necessity and obligation resting upon colored men to speak and write freely for themselves." He felt that the first step was to persuade churches and ministers to preach that slavery was sinful. Again, the engines of change were the moral arguments of the elite rather than the solidarity of ordinary blacks. (Note: Frederick Douglass: “We were married by Rev. J. W. C. Pennington, then a well-known and respected Presbyterian minister. I had no money with which to pay the marriage fee, but he seemed well pleased with our thanks.”)

Henry Highland Garnet (1815-1882) was born into slavery in Kent County, Maryland, on December 23, 1815. His father, George Trusty, allegedly was the son of a Mandingo warrior prince, taken prisoner in combat. The family group made its way to New Hope, Pennsylvania, where Garnet had his first schooling.  In 1825 the Garnets moved to New York City where George Trusty changed the  name of the family to Garnet. Henry Highland Garnet entered the African Free School in Mott Street in 1826. In 1828 Garnet made several voyages and on his return, he learned that the family had been scattered by the threat of slave catchers. Since Garnet had to support himself, he was bound out to Epenetus Smith of Smithtown, Long Island, as a farm worker. In the second year there, when he was 15, Garnet injured his knee playing sports so severely that his indentures were canceled. The leg never properly healed, and he used crutches for the rest of his life. After 13 years of suffering and illness, the leg was finally amputated at the hip in December 1840. Sometime between 1833 and 1835 he joined the Sunday school of the First Colored Presbyterian Church. There Garnet became the protégé of Theodore Sedgewick Wright, the first black graduate of Princeton's theological seminary, who brought about Garnet's conversion and then encouraged him to enter the ministry. Wright baptized Garnet, and Garnet later preached Wright's funeral sermon.

In 1835 Garnet went to the newly-established Noyes Academy in Canaan, New Hampshire. A vocal minority of local townspeople were determined to close down the school and drive away the 14 blacks enrolled. In early 1836 Garnet went to the Oneida Institute in Whitesboro, New York. In September 1840, he graduated from Oneida with honors and settled in Troy, New York. Even though Garnet was not yet ordained, he had been called as minister to the newly established Liberty Street Presbyterian Church at Troy, New York. In 1842 Garnet was licensed to preach and in the following year ordained a minister. He assisted in editing The National Watchman and later edited The Clarion, which combined abolitionist and religious themes.

Just as Garnet was in the vanguard of the blacks who began to seek remedies in political action and even revolution, he also led the way in proposing emigration as a solution for black plight in the United States as proposed by the American Colonization Society. Since 1817 most American blacks had condemned the American Colonization Society and were suspicious of the society's aims and of its creating the nation of Liberia, which became independent in 1847. Garnet moved from Troy to Geneva in 1848 and then to Great Britain in 1850.

In 1855 he was called to Shiloh Presbyterian Church in New York City, where he became the successor of his mentor, Theodore S. Wright. A side effect of Garnet's support of emigration and his trip to England in 1861 was an attempt of the board of trustees of Shiloh Church to force him out as pastor. The controversy ended in 1862 when the congregation accepted the resignation of the entire board by a wide majority. Garnet's prominence made him one of the prime targets of a white working-class mob during the July 1863 draft riots in New York City when blacks and leading abolitionists were , assailed. In March 1864 Garnet became pastor of the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church of Washington. D.C. There he delivered a sermon in the chamber of the House of Representatives on February 12, 1865, the first black to do so. Garnet accepted the presidency of Avery College in Pittsburgh in 1868, but returned to Shiloh Church in New York in 1870. He went into a physical and mental decline about 1876. In this mood, Garnet actively lobbied for the position of minister to Liberia, which he obtained. He preached his farewell sermon at Shiloh on November 6, 1881. He landed in Monrovia on December 28, and died on February, 12, 1882. At his eulogy in Washington, D.C., Frederick Douglass, was a platform guest.

[8] Such white Presbyterians as William Goodell, Joshua Leavitt, George Bourne, Henry Ludlow and Samuel H. Cox:

 

William Goodell (1792-1878) wrote extensively and edited a long list of antislavery and reform newspapers, including the Genius of Temperance, the Emancipator, the Friend of Man, the American Jubilee, the Radical Abolitionist, and Principia. Upon moving to Honeoye, New York, in 1843, he founded a nonsectarian church based on temperance and antislavery principle. Convinced that even those churches which remained neutral on the slavery issue were anti-Christian, Goodell argued that successful reforms must "begin at the house of God." He therefore urged abolitionists to withdraw from existing churches in his doctrine of "Come-Outerism." Goodell shared common ground with both camps of American abolitionism. Although he differed with the Garrisonians over the value of political abolitionism, the proslavery character of the Constitution, and various theological matters, Goodell shared old organization views on nonviolence and the necessity of attacking slavery on religious grounds.

Joshua Leavitt (1794-1873) graduated from Yale in 1814, was admitted to the bar in 1819, and began to practice law in Putney, Vermont, in 1821. In 1823 he abandoned his profession for the study of theology, and was graduated at Yale Divinity School in 1825. He settled the same year at Stratford, Connecticut, where he had charge of a Congregational church until 1828. In 1819, while a student of law, in Heath, Mr. Leavitt organized one of the first Sabbath schools in western Massachusetts, embracing not only the children, but the entire congregation, all of whom were arranged in classes for religious instruction. In 1828 he removed to New York City as secretary of the American seamen's friend society and editor of the Sailor's Magazine. In 1831 he became editor and owner of the newly established Evangelist, which under his management soon grew to be the organ of the more liberal religious movements. He undertook reporting in full the revival lectures of Charles G. Finney. The financial crisis of 1837 compelled him, while erecting a new building, to sell the Evangelist. In 1837 he became editor of the Emancipator, which he afterward moved to Boston, and he also published in that city The Chronicle, the earliest daily anti-slavery paper. In 1848 Mr. Leavitt became office editor of the New York Independent, and was connected editorially with it until his death. Besides the works already mentioned, he published a hymnbook for revivals, entitled the Christian Lyre (1831).

George Bourne (1780-1845), clergyman and abolitionist, moved from England to Baltimore in 1804. After six years as a journalist and local politician, he moved to the Harrisonburg area of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, where he became the pastor of a Presbyterian church. Bourne's exposure to the plantation system in Virginia caused him to become violently opposed to slavery. His controversial stance on the issue led to his expulsion from the church. Bourne left Virginia, and after living briefly in several different New England states, he settled in New York City in 1829. He was a founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society and a frequent contributor to the Liberator.

Henry Ludlow (1797-1867) was one of the more radical and emotional of the abolitionists; one source has him "[going] so far as to appeal to all Northern negroes for support, and to defend intermarriage between whites and blacks." One of the churches where he preached was partially demolished in 1834 in a night of anti-abolitionist rioting, and on another occasion he complains in a letter to his brother that he was "mobbed and egged... in broad day light... in the presence of approving and assenting justices of the peace and other officers of the town set to preserve the Constitutional rights of its Citizens."

[9] A story is told concerning Arthur Tappan and Cornish. Tappan was a pew holder in Rev. Samuel Cox’s Laight Street Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. One Sunday morning on his way to church, Tappan encountered Cornish on the street. As Cox’s church was nearby – 2 miles closer to Cornish’s home than where Cornish usually worshipped – Tappan invited him in and the two sat together in Tappan’s pew. This led to a tremendous row with some church members threatening to resign and the elders insisting that Tappan not repeat the offense. Rev. Cox, however, chided his congregation for its intolerance. Cox argued that as Christ was probably of a dark Syrian skin hue, Jesus might well have been rejected along with Samuel  Cox denounced “nigger pews” and called for an integrated congregation. He was instantly subjected to citywide attack.

[10] His associate on the paper was Philip A. Bell, later a noted California newspaper editor who started the Weekly Advocate in 1827.

[11] This controversial opinion led to his estrangement from the activist wing of the anti-slavery movement.

[12] The paper was launched in 1836, by Samuel Cornish, Philip Bell, and Charles Bennett Ray. The paper was a weekly, running between four and six pages. Pronouncing its editorial mission as "the moral, social and political elevation of the free colored people; and the peaceful emancipation of the slaves," the Colored American gave prominent coverage to abolitionist activity and to civil rights issues in the north. By 1839, Ray had taken over as the paper's sole owner and editor. Ray was an African-American Massachusetts native who had been ordained as a minister in 1837. In 1837 the executive committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society urged its members to support the paper and solicited subscribers. Even so, the paper frequently teetered on the brink of financial collapse. Its primary readership—the northern free black community—was chronically hard-pressed for cash. Occasional cash infusions from prominent white allies enabled the paper to survive through 1841.