Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Featured Book Reviewer
- Jan 7, 2013
- Long Island, NY
The South Carolina Leader and Missionary Record was one of the earliest black newspapers in the South. According to the Library of Congress:
South Carolina Leader and Missionary Record
The weekly Charleston Missionary Record (1868-79?), an African American-owned Republican newspaper “devoted to the interest of free labor and general reform,” established itself as a widely read and long-lasting news source in a time of scarce capital and increased hostility towards blacks in South Carolina. In 1869, the Missionary Record claimed a circulation of 2,000, with subscribers spread across Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The Missionary Recordtended to emphasize state and national news, especially on the topics of education and suffrage rights, over local coverage, but it also carried advertisements and notices of Charleston-based black businesses and fraternal societies.
The Missionary Record began in 1865 as the South Carolina Leader. In the inaugural issue, dated October 7, 1865, proprietors Timothy Hurley and Allen Coffin declared, “Our mission is to improve the whole people, by advocating equal rights to all … we are for the Union and the Constitution, and shall defend the flag against its enemies wherever found.” They chose for its motto a paraphrase from Mark 4:28: “First the blade, then the ear, after that, the full corn in the ear.” The paper was available at stores owned by Thomas Whitmarsh Cardozo, the son of a prominent family of African and Sephardic Jewish ancestry. In 1867, Richard Harvey Cain and Alonzo Jacob Ransier came into possession of the South Carolina Leader. They changed the name to the Missionary Record shortly thereafter.
Richard Cain and Alonzo Ransier had notable careers beyond their involvement with the Missionary Record. A native of Virginia, Cain served as South Carolina State Senator (1868-70), United States Representative from South Carolina (1873-75 and 1877-79), and as a delegate to the South Carolina Constitutional Convention in 1868. In 1880, he was appointed bishop to the First Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which encompassed the conferences of Bermuda, Delaware, New England, New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia. A native of Charleston, Alonzo Ransier served as a South Carolina state representative (1868-69), lieutenant governor (1870), delegate to the Republican National Convention (1872), and United States representative (1873-75).
In 1876, the South Carolina Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church took over publishing duties for the Missionary Record. Richard Cain continued his duties as editor. The publishers explained the newspaper’s change of direction: “The need of a medium of communication, among the ministers of that denomination … demands the establishment and continuance of a paper that shall speak their sentiments and disseminate such truths as shall enlighten the masses.” The American Newspaper Directory, published by George Presbury Rowell and Company, includes listings for the Missionary Record as late as 1879, but very few issues have ultimately survived. Almost nothing is known as to when and why the paper ceased publication. The last known issue is dated April 1, 1876.