Mary Ann Shadd Essay

On By In 1

This weekly newspaper was edited and published by negroes in the Province of Canada West (now called Ontario) where many fugitive slaves from the United States had settled. The first number, intended as a specimen, was issued at Windsor, dated March 24, 1854. The editor was Samuel A. Ward.

Mary Ann (Shadd) Carey was born on October 9, 1823, into a prominent black family in Wilmington, Delaware, the eldest of thirteen children. When she was ten years old, her parents moved to West Chester, Pennsylvania, where she attended a Quaker school for 5 years. Early in her life she became dedicated to the promotion of self-reliance and independence among black Canadians. She helped found the Provincial Freeman and became the first black North American female editor and publisher, with the purpose of transforming black refugees into model citizens. In 1856 she married Thomas F. Carey of Toronto, and the couple lived in Chatham, Canada, until his death in 1860. Mary Carey ultimately moved to Washington, D.C. where she opened a school for black children and in 1870 she became the first black woman lawyer in the United States.

Mary Ann Shadd Cary

The Provincial Freeman was devoted to Anti-Slavery, Temperance and General Literature, and was affiliated with no particular Political Party. Its prospectus stated, “it will open its columns to the views of men of different political opinions, reserving the right, as an independent Journal, of full expression on all questions or projects affecting the people in a political way; and reserving, also, the right to express emphatic condemnation of all projects, having for their object in a great or remote degree, the subversion of the principles of the British Constitution, or of British rule in the Provinces.” In July, 1856, the office was seized for debt and publication was suspended until Nov. 25, when issue number 16 was published. The volume was closed with issue number 49, August 22, 1857.

The Browse and/or Search links below are for visitors on networks with institutional access to this collection. Individuals with personal subscriptions must login at accessible.com to access the Browse and Search features.

BrowseSearch

Notes

  • Provincial Freeman, Chatham, Canada West – Complete 1854–1857
Other Collections

Mary Ann Camberton Shadd Cary, educator, publisher, abolitionist (born 9 October 1823 in Wilmington, Delaware; died 5 June 1893 in Washington, DC).

Mary Ann Camberton Shadd Cary, educator, publisher, abolitionist (born 9 October 1823 in Wilmington, Delaware; died 5 June 1893 in Washington, DC). The first Black female newspaper publisher in Canada, Shadd founded and edited TheProvincial Freeman. She also established a racially integrated school for Black refugees in Windsor, Canada West. In 1994, Shadd was designated a Person of National Historic Significance in Canada.

Early Years

Born to free parents in Delaware, a slave state, Mary Ann Shadd was the eldest of 13 children. She was educated by Quakers and later taught throughout the northeastern United States, including New York City. Following in the footsteps of her activist parents, whose home was a safe house (or “station”) on the Underground Railroad, Shadd pursued community activism upon settling in Canada.

Move to Canada West

On 10 September 1851, at St. Lawrence Hall, Shadd attended the first North American Convention of Coloured Freemen held outside of the United States. The event was presided over by Henry Bibb, Josiah Henson, J.T. Fisher, as well as other prominent figures, and was attended by hundreds of Black community leaders from all over Canada, the northern United States, and England. Many Convention delegates encouraged enslaved Americans and refugees from enslavement to enter Canada. The year before, the United States had passed the Fugitive Slave Act, which allowed slave owners to recapture escaped enslaved persons in states where enslavement had been abolished.

At the Convention, Henry and Mary Bibb, activists and publishers of the newspaper Voice of the Fugitive, met and convinced Shadd to take a teaching position near their home in Sandwich (now Windsor), Canada West. After settling there in 1851, Shadd set up a racially integrated school that was open to all who could afford to attend (education was not publicly provided at that time). The school was opened with financial support from the American Missionary Association.

Shadd wrote educational booklets that outlined the advantages of Canada for settlers moving north, including A Plea for Emigration; or Notes of Canada West (1852). About this time, Shadd, who opposed segregated schools for Black children, engaged in a heated debate with Henry and Mary Bibb, who favoured segregation. The dispute informed many editorials written by the Bibbs and Shadd in Voice of the Fugitive. As a result of the public dispute, Shadd lost funding from the American Missionary Association for her school.

The Provincial Freeman

An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 freedom-seekers — born free or enslaved — reached Canada through the Underground Railroad. In 1850, over 35,000 Black persons lived in Canada West. To promote emigration to Canada, Shadd publicized the successes of Black persons living in freedom in Canada through The Provincial Freeman, a weekly newspaper first printed on 24 March 1853. This made Shadd the first Black woman in North America to publish a newspaper, and one of the first female journalists in Canada. “Self-Reliance Is the True Road to Independence” was the paper’s motto.

Co-edited by Samuel Ringgold Ward, a well-known public speaker and escaped enslaved person living in Toronto, the paper was published from Windsor (1853–1854), Toronto (1854–1855) and Chatham (1855–1857). While Ward was listed as editor on the paper’s masthead, Shadd did not list her own name, or take any credit for articles written by her, thus concealing the paper’s female editorship. By 1860, the paper had succumbed to financial pressure and folded.

Later Years; Return to the United States

After spending the first few years of the American Civil War as a schoolteacher in Chatham, Shadd returned to the United States and began work as a recruitment agent for the Union Army. Later, she moved to Washington, DC, where she worked as a teacher. Years after, Shadd pursued law studies at Howard University and in 1883 became one of the first Black women to complete a law degree.

0 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *