The Black Press and the Northern Press

The black press was not vocal on the revival. For many years, it had been mostly preoccupied with the domestic slave trade and Freedom's Journal, for example, had stated that the suppression of the internal trade was of more pressing concern:

In our humble opinion, the thousands which are annually appropriated for the suppression of the foreign slave trade, is to be considered but a secondary object, while our domestic slave trade is suffered to be carried on from one State to another. We may declaim as much as we please upon the horrors of the foreign slave trade, but we would ask, are the horrors of the internal trade less — are the relations of life less endearing in this country than in Africa — are the Wood folks of the South less cruel than the slavers on the coast?

But in 1854, the Provincial Freeman, a black weekly newspaper published in Toronto, Canada West, denounced the New York Day Book for supporting the international slave trade as a "civilizing and christianizing" process. The northern Day Book later went on to declare, "Of course no one can suppose we doubt the right of bringing negroes from Africa if they are needed. It is simply a question of expediency, and there can be no doubt our laws making it piracy must be blotted out of the Statute Books. They are not only ridiculous, but utterly and wholly contemptible."

In the same vein, the New York-based Harper's Weekly could affirm, "If in the North our supply of foreign labor were suddenly cut off, the country would receive a shock in comparison with which the late revulsion would seem utterly insignificant. Yet the natural increase of our laboring population is greater than that of the negroes."

The thought of reopening the slave trade was thus not circumscribed to the South but also found support in some northern circles. New York was, after all, the hub of the illegal slave trade that outfitted and insured slave ships doing business with Brazil, Cuba, and the Deep South. But generally, the revival was rejected in the Free States.