The Works of James M. Whitfield: America and Other Writings by a Nineteenth-Century African American Poet

By James M. Whitfield; Robert S. Levine et al. | Go to book overview

REPORT ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A PERIODICAL,
TO BE THE ORGAN OF THE BLACK AND COLORED
RACE ON THE AMERICAN CONTINENT 64

Your Committee, to whom was referred the duty of enquiring into the expediency of establishing a literary periodical, which should at the same time be the organ of the National Board of Commissioners, 65 would respectfully submit, that they have investigated the subject as thoroughly as the limited time allowed them would permit.

It is evident to every one that a well-conducted and well supported press, is a most potent instrument in the moral and intellectual culture, and elevation of any people. This is emphatically a reading age and country. Elaborate works, which in former ages were only within the reach of the wealthy few, by popular and cheap editions, are brought within the reach of the most humble individual, or the most limited purse. While reviews, magazines and newspapers cover the land, authors, editors, essayists and critics have become a numerous class, and by no other class, in an enlightened country, is so great an influence exerted upon the characters of their fellow men, and the future destinies of the race. Theirs is the silent influence which goes with the divine into his study, and dictates the character of the doctrines and precepts which he must impress upon the minds of his hearers; it mounts the rostrum with the orator, and paints each glowing period

64. The report was presented to the National Emigration Convention of Colored People, which met in Cleveland, 24–26 August 1854. The committee consisted of Whitfield, James T. Holly, and William Lambert of Michigan. According to the Proceedings of the National Emigration Convention of Colored People, prior to the convention, Whitfield “sent in” a paper on “the subject of establishing a Quarterly Repository” (17). The committee’s report probably drew heavily on that paper, and it was printed in the Proceedings itself (28–31), which is the source of the text here.

65. The convention proposed a national leadership council consisting of nine members. As reported in the Proceedings, the National Board of Commissioners would be “the first and only practically useful and comprehensively intelligent organization, unselfish in its motives and designs, ever established in this country among the black inhabitants of the republic” (5).

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