Black Republican, 1865

A Newspaper to be Published in the City of New Orleans by American Colored Men

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by Kathryn Siefker, Associate Curator of Exhibition Content

This April 22, 1865, issue of the Black Republican is the second issue of the New Orleans based newspaper. A weekly paper distributed on Saturdays, it joined a small, but growing number of black-run newspapers in the South that emerged in the months following the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery in the United States.

The Black Republican and the other papers founded in 1865 are a record of the political organization taking place in black communities immediately following Emancipation. The newspaper's prospectus, printed in the top left corner, states that the paper was "devoted to the religious, moral, social, political and material advancement of the colored people." Not just for the people of New Orleans, its goal was to be a "true organ of the American colored people of Louisiana." It presented a combination of news and literature aimed to educate the state's newly free population. However, the newspaper had a unique challenge — how to reach its intended audience. Because it had previously been illegal to teach enslaved men, women, and children to read, the black population of Louisiana at the time suffered from illiteracy. The Black Republican hosted meetings at its office, during which the paper would be read and distributed free of charge. It is uncertain how long the Black Republican remained in print, but historians do know that it existed alongside several other black newspapers in New Orleans at the time, and that since 1862, New Orleans was never without an African American newspaper for more than a few months at a time.

The earliest Texas-based African American owned newspapers included the weekly Wharton Southern Monitor, begun in 1887, the Dallas Express (1892), and the Texas Freeman (1893). By 1900, there were over 20 in the state.

This object was one of more than 75 original artifacts on display in the special exhibition, Purchased Lives: The American Slave Trade from 1808 to 1865.

See this and other artifacts on the Interactive Texas Map

Black Republican, 1865 Artifact from New Orleans
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