“A bold push in behalf of negro suffrage in the South has been made in Raleigh, N. C., by the establishment there of an out-and-out negro suffrage paper,” declared the New York Times on October 3, 1865. Publishers Edward P. Brooks (1843-1893) and John Quincy Adams Crane (1836-1885) entitled their “universal suffrage paper” the Journal of Freedom and proudly promulgated “equal rights before the law for all men.” The Journal had one thousand subscribers and only one advertiser at its outset. Early enthusiasm among the freed community could not combat increasing difficulties, and the paper dissolved after only five issues.
The Journal examined topics relevant to freed people such as the suffrage movement, Freedmen’s Bureau affairs, and military service, to name a few. It provided extensive coverage of the 1865 Freedmen’s Convention held in Raleigh from September 29 through October 3. The two full pages dedicated to the convention included such items as an open letter to North Carolinians by Horace Greeley, the constitution and preamble of the Equal Rights League, and summaries of all sessions. Brooks addressed the convention and promoted his paper and its goals. The Journal’s dedication to the interests of the freed people was endorsed by Abraham Galloway, one of North Carolina’s most prominent and influential Black civil rights leaders.
Prior to the Journal’s launch, both Brooks and Crane had been engaged in the newspaper business. In the early 1860s, Crane was a printer in Richmond and a member of a labor organization for typesetters called the Richmond Typographical Society. During the Civil War, Brooks served as adjutant for the Sixth Wisconsin Infantry. Confederate forces captured him three times during his war service, and Brooks was held at Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia, at a prison in Columbia, South Carolina, and for a short time at a district jail in Georgetown, South Carolina. His time as a prisoner of war took a toll on Brooks’s health, and he was discharged for disability in January 1865. After his discharge, Brooks served as a Raleigh-based correspondent for the New York Times and as an editor for the Raleigh [North Carolina] Daily Progress.
The Journal of Freedom was published from September 30 to October 28, 1865. During its short run, the paper suffered from a lack of advertisement sales, maliciously high rents, and general opposition to its message. Crane bowed out by the fourth issue for reasons unnamed, leaving Brooks to manage the paper alone. On October 28, a week after Crane’s departure, Brooks announced what was to be a temporary cessation of publication to allow him to acquire proper printing equipment. However, no further issues of Journal of Freedom were published.