Douglass published the North Star until June of 1851, when Douglass and Gerrit Smith agreed to merge the North Star with the Liberty Party Paper (based out of Syracuse, New York) to form Frederick Douglass's Paper.
Frederick Douglass’s thoughts toward political inaction changed when he attended the National Convention of Colored Citizens, an antislavery convention in Buffalo, New York in August of 1843. One of the many speakers present at the convention was Henry Highland Garnet. Formerly a slave in Maryland, Garnet was a Presbyterian minister in support of violent action against slaveholders. Garnets demands of independent action addressed to the American slaves would remain one of the leading issues of change for Douglass. During the two year stay in Britain and Ireland, several of Douglass’s supporters bought his freedom and assisted with the purchase of a printing press. With this assistance Douglass was determined to begin an African American newspaper that would engage the anti-slavery movement politically. Upon his return to the United States in March of 1847 Douglass shared his ideas of the North Star with his mentors. Ignoring the advice of the American Anti-Slavery Society, Douglass moved to Rochester, New York to publish the first edition. Upon questioning on his decision to creating the North Star Douglass is said to have responded,
I still see before me a life of toil and trials..., but, justice must be done, the truth must be told...I will not be silent."4With this conflict of interests, Douglass was able to achieve an unconstrained independence to write freely on topics that covered his analysis of the Constitution as an antislavery document, his desires for political action necessary to bring emancipation, and the support of the women’s rights’ movement.5
If the Emancipation Proclamation speaks to the central role of constituted authority - in the person of Abraham Lincoln - in making history, it speaks no less loudly to the role of ordinary men and women, seizing the moment to make the world according to their own understanding of justice and human decency.6The publication of the North Star was a considerable step in giving African Americans a voice in the abolitionist movement by providing an open forum for African American leaders in the community.
2. William S. McFeely, Frederick Douglass, (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1991), 84-206.
3. Ibid, 15-16
4. Ibid, 146-147
5. Ibid, 76-77
6. Ira Berlin, "Who Freed the Slaves; Emancipation and Its Meaning," in Blight and Simpson ed."Union and Emancipation; Essays on Politics and Race in the Civil War Era" (Kent, Kent State University Press, 1997),121.
The North Star Fund, a New York City community foundation that took its name from Frederick Douglass' newspaper. The North Star fund is dedicated to social change in New York City communities. It donates its benefits to the lower class sector of many of these communities.