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Publication Details

The Kansas herald of freedom.

More information about this newspaper title may be available on the source website.

Source: Chronicling America [US Library of Congress]

Country: United States

State: Kansas

City: Wakarusa, Kan. Territory

Issues of this title available in Elephind: 225

Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 901

Earliest Date: 21 October 1854

Latest Date: 17 December 1859


The Kansas Herald of Freedom

Published in Conneautville, Pennsylvania, the Kansas Herald of Freedom first appeared with the dateline Wakarusa, Kansas Territory, on October 21, 1854.  After a delay in the editor’s move and a name change from Wakarusa, the second issue was published in Lawrence, Kansas, on January 3, 1855, although it was dated as January 6, 1855. The Kansas Herald of Freedom remained in Lawrence for the next five years.

Its publisher George Washington Brown (1820-1915) practiced law for a brief time and then changed career paths, entering the publishing business as editor for the Conneautville Courier in Conneautville, Pennsylvania. While there, Brown supported the Free-Soil political platform through his editorials. After negotiations with the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company, Brown announced he would publish the Kansas Herald of Freedom, the first free-state newspaper in the new territory. Upon arriving in Kansas, Brown continued to promote the free-state cause to a wide readership through the Herald, which acted as the official organ of the rechristened New England Emigrant Aid CompanyThe Herald and another Lawrence paper, the Kansas Free State, were contemptuous of the proponents of slavery and the proslavery territorial government. The controversy came to a head in May 1856, culminating with the “Sack of Lawrence” on May 21. In early May a grand jury stacked with supporters of slavery declared the two newspapers and the Free State Hotel “nuisances” that “may be removed.” Acting on this authority, the proslavery sheriff of Douglas County led a group which destroyed the hotel and newspapers’ offices, as well as other businesses and homes. Brown was arrested on charges of high treason for which he was held for four months. After the case was dismissed and he was released, Brown returned to rebuild and publish the Herald, beginning on November 1, 1856.

Within a few months, however, rumors began to circulate that Brown had sold out to the Democratic Party, which opposed the free-state cause.  He engaged in bitter controversies with other free-state editors and supported Territorial Governor Robert John Walker, whom free-staters came to distrust. The once high number of subscriptions dropped due to Brown promoting Kansas’s entry in the union under the Lecompton Constitution which supported slaveholder rights. This move was seen as Brown betraying the free-state cause, and the Herald of Freedom was no longer seen as a free-state paper. Brown’s reputation in free-state circles was further diminished after he opposed the Leavenworth Constitution and, later, the Wyandotte Constitution, both of which would have banned slavery in Kansas. Brown served as editor of Kansas Herald of Freedom until its last issue appeared on December 17, 1859. Brown left journalism and Lawrence to pursue other interests, selling much of his equipment and supplies to Josiah C. Trask and Hovey E. Lowman, who began printing the Kansas State Journal in 1861. Brown eventually settled in Rockford, Illinois, where he engaged in the oil business, practiced medicine, and authored a biography of John Brown and histories of territorial Kansas.

Provided by: Kansas State Historical Society; Topeka, KS