Celebrated in life as co-founder of America’s first black newspaper, John Brown Russwurm was the embodiment of an Atlantic Creole. Born in Jamaica to a white American father and a black Jamaican mother, as a young man Russwurm moved to North America. Throughout his teens and twenties, his “home” was southern Maine, and he was given a good secondary education there. After finishing school, Russwurm taught in several black schools in Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston. It was in these cities that he came into contact with America’s free black leaders, some of whom supported the movement to colonize black Americans in West Africa or Haiti. After teaching for several years, he returned to Maine to attend college, and, in 1826, he became the first African American to graduate from Bowdoin College. By the time he graduated from college he had become a staunch supporter of the colonizationist movement. Initially he hoped to settle in Haiti, but, when that fell through, he moved across the Atlantic to the West African nation of Liberia, a settler colony for American blacks. In light of Russwurm’s transnational background, his ultimate relocation to Africa was a logical extension of his life’s trajectory. The author is an associate professor in the School of Humanities at Pennsylvania State University-Harrisburg. This article is part of his research on trans-Atlantic communication networks among nineteenth-century blacks. His most recent publication is “Tradition of Dissent: West Indians and Liberian Journalism, 1830-1970,” Ecquid Novi: African Journalism Studies, vol. 33, no. 2 (2012). He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Burrowes, Carl Patrick. "A Child of the Atlantic: The Maine Years of John Brown Russwurm." Maine History 47, 2 (2013): 162-189. https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/mainehistoryjournal/vol47/iss2/2