Samuel Cornish was a leader in a small free black community in New York City. Cornish was also a pastor that formed the first black congregation in the free black community. Cornish was a founder of the American Anti-Slavery Society and also an editor for Freedom’s Journal, the first black newspaper in the U.S.
After becoming a pastor in 1822, Cornish formed the first official black Presbyterian church in New York City. Cornish pastored a few other churches as well. Cornish was also one of twelve founders of the American Bible Society and American Missionary Association in 1846.
In 1847 Cornish became an editor for Freedom’s Journal, the first black newspaper in America, which was the same time when slavery was abolished in New York. The newspaper represented the views of the several hundred free blacks in New York and opposed racism in other local newspapers. Freedom’s Journal also fought for the rights of African Americans to participate in politics and vote and other similar issues.
Cornish was one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society. When the society expanded its focus to include more than just anti-slavery efforts, Cornish and a few other leaders formed a new organization called the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. This organization focused solely on freeing slaves.
Cornish was also involved in the education system. Cornish zealously advocated for African Americans to advance their education in free black schools. Charles C. Andrews stated that Cornish searched "into the condition of every coloured family in this city… [Cornish’s] services have been of essential use, in stimulating the parents to send their children to school, and in furnishing more minute information relative to our coloured population."
CENTERED ON CHRIST
Cornish became a Christian at a young age and described himself as an evangelical Calvinist. He was dedicated to sharing the gospel when he could. After getting a license to preach, Cornish ministered to slaves on the Eastern shore of Maryland. Cornish was led by his faith in all that he did.
Cornish once wrote, “Our mind is entirely at rest, in respect to the ultimate result of abolition efforts. The cause is God’s and it is entirely under his control.”