The Black Newspaper and the Chosen Nation

Benjamin Fagan

How the pre-Civil War black press defined the fight for freedom among African Americans


"Fagan reads newspapers as a central vehicle for nineteenth-century black Americans' religious and political self-expression. . . . [I]n focusing on the ideological and religious values that propel the early black press, Fagan usefully builds on the work of scholars such as Frances Smith Foster, Carla Peterson, John Ernest, and Eric Gardner, who have emphasized the Afro-Protestant press's central role in nineteenth-century black print culture. . . . Fagan's book nimbly balances analysis of political and religious newspaper content alongside attention to each paper's historical context."
—Andrea M. Williams, American Periodicals Review

The Black Newspaper and the Chosen Nation is a well-written, original, and thoughtful book that makes a significant contribution to the study of the early U.S. newspaper, the early black press, and early African American print culture, writ large.”
—Joseph Rezek, Early American Literature

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The Black Newspaper and the Chosen Nation shows how antebellum African Americans used the newspaper as a means for translating their belief in black “chosenness” into plans and programs for black liberation. During the decades leading up to the Civil War, the idea that God had marked black Americans as his chosen people on earth became a central article of faith in northern black communities, with black newspaper editors articulating it in their journals.

Benjamin Fagan shows how the early black press helped shape the relationship between black chosenness and the struggles for black freedom and equality in America, in the process transforming the very notion of a chosen American nation. Exploring how cultures of print helped antebellum black Americans apply their faith to struggles grand and small, The Black Newspaper and the Chosen Nation uses the vast and neglected archive of the early black press to shed new light on many of the central figures and questions of African American studies.

A Sarah Mills Hodge Fund Publication

Page count: 200 pp.
12 b&w images
Trim size: 6 x 9

Read more about The Civil War in Georgia at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.


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Benjamin Fagan is an associate professor of English at Auburn University.