African American Odyssey Introduction | Overview | Object List | Education Materials

The North Star

What’s the Main Idea?

Object Description

Probing Further

Frederick Douglass North Star, June 2, 1848

What's the Main Idea?

Object Description

Frederick Douglass, one of the best known and most articulate free black spokesmen during the antebellum years, was born a slave ca. 1817. After he ran away, Douglass tirelessly fought for emancipation and full citizenship for African Americans. Despite the failure of earlier African American newspapers, Douglass founded the The North Star in December 1847. The masthead contained the motto: "Right is of no sex; truth is of no color, God is the Father of us all--and all are brethren." In 1851 it merged with the Liberty Party Paper and soon changed its name to the Frederick Douglass Paper. A contemporary African American journalist observed that Douglass's ability as a newspaper editor and publisher did more for the "freedom and elevation of his race than all his platform appearances."

Probing Further

  1. What does the motto on the The North Star masthead mean?

  2. From as early as the mid-1700s, religious groups, and especially the Quakers, were among the first to protest the African slave trade. Study the printed pamphlets written by religious leaders, Benjamin Lay or Jonathan Edwards, the broadside The Negro Woman's Appeal to Her White Sisters, and a collection of songs titled the Anti-Slavery Harp. What is the message conveyed by these examples of abolitionists' literature?

  3. Write three short biographies on one white, black, and woman abolitionist, and comment on each one's methods toward abolishing slavery. Was there a difference in how a white, black, and woman abolitionist viewed African American's role in society?

  4. Sojourner Truth was one African American woman who fought fiercely for abolition of slavery and women's rights. How did she become such an important figure in speaking out on behalf of enslaved blacks, and women contesting for equal rights?


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