Samuel Ringgold Ward was an American abolitionist, journalist, editor, and minister.
He worked in Windsor with Mary Ann Shadd to found The Provincial Freeman, a newspaper established for the Black community of Upper Canada.
Samuel Ward was born in the state of Maryland on October 17, 1817. His parents were Black slaves who managed to escape with their son to Greenwich, New Jersey in 1820. The family moved to New York in 1826, where Samuel was educated by Quakers and later became a teacher. Ward was licensed to preach in May of 1839 by the New York Congregational (General) Association, ministering from 1841 to 1851. He was also appointed an agent of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1839.
In 1844 Ward set out on his first tour to lecture at abolition, temperance, and peace societies. Ward was editor of the True American and Religious Examiner from 1845 to 1848, and for The Impartial Citizen from 1849 to 1850. In 1850, along with Frederick Douglass, Ward organized the first black American labor union: the American League of Colored Laborers.
Ward fled to Toronto, Ontario in late 1851 to escape arrest for his involvement in the escape of fugitive slave William Henry. That same year, Ward was appointed to the executive committee of the new Anti-Slavery Society of Canada. During 1852, Ward embarked on a speaking tour of Canada West, during which he helped organize branches of the Anti-Slavery Society of Canada in Grey County, Hamilton, Kingston, and Windsor. He traveled to England in 1853 on behalf of the Society, raising funds to help the influx of fugitive slaves escaping to Canada West.
In 1853, Ward co-founded the The Provincial Freeman, a newspaper established for the Black community of Upper Canada. The first issue was published in Windsor on March 24, 1853. While attributed as the paper’s editor on the masthead, Ward shared editorial duties with the paper’s co-founder Mary Ann Shadd. By 1860, the paper ceased publication due to financial pressure. In 1855, Ward would publish his book Autobiography of a Fugitive Negro: His Anti-slavery Labours in the United States, Canada and England. In late 1855, Ward moved to Kingston, Jamaica, where he spent the last years of life as a minister and farmer before his death in 1866.
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