First Abolitionist Publications
Backstory and Context
Elihu Embree (1782-1820), a Quaker from Pennsylvania that moved to Washington County in eastern Tennessee had originally been a farmer and involved in iron manufacturing. Due to both his poor business managerial skills and growing anti-slavery attitude (perhaps to do a guilty conscience since he was a slave owning Quaker), he free his slaves in 1812.
After having been a member of the local branch of the Manumission Society of Tennessee, Embree gain approval of the Society to publish a paper in 1819. The first was The Manumission Intelligencer. The first issue was published in March of the same year. Of 50 issues, only about a dozen survive today, so little is known about the Intelligencer, which had served as a weekly paper.
In April of 1820, The Emancipator was published as a monthly paper and took the place of the previous paper. In both papers, slavery and slave owners were condemned and the general public was informed on the system of slavery and encouraged abolitionism in the nation. The paper only lasted 8 months due to Embree's death at the age of 38 of 'bilious fever'. Despite the short life-span of the paper, it was very popular with over 2000 subscribers and mainly covered Kentucky and eastern Tennessee.