Stephen Myers

Stephen Myers

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. "Stephen Myers. ; Willis A. Hodges." New York Public Library Digital Collections

Stephen Myers was born a slave in Hooksick, New York, in 1800. At age eighteen, he was emancipated and began to work on a commercial steam vessel that sailed back and forth between Albany and New York, New York.1 In 1827, he married Harriet Johnson, and together they had four children. Stephen Myers spent most of his life advocating for the emancipation and advancement of African Americans.

Apart from working in a steam vessel, he also worked as publisher of the short-lived abolitionist paper The Elevator, which was in production for two years. In that time, he had been building his reputation as a leading abolitionist in Albany. He later went on to become the editor of The Northern Star and Freemans’ Advocate, which merged with another publication. The Impartial Citizen was the result of this merger, and Myers served as its editor. His reputation as an eloquent and outspoken activist helped him attain this position, as he did not receive a formal education.2 Many important articles in The Impartial Citizen yielded attention to the political status of African Americans, igniting interest and garnering support for Black activism. The Impartial Citizen later became part of The North Star and Colored Farmer, and Samuel Ringgold Ward replaced Myers as editor. In 1856, Myers started publishing a six-column monthly called The Reporter. Provincial Freeman lauded the monthly paper and Myer’s reputation.

As member of the Albany Vigilance Committee, Myers appeared at many events and conferences to deliver speeches. The passing of the Fugitive Slave Laws compelled many African Americans, freed and enslaved, to flee to Canada via the Underground Railroad. Myers stayed in Albany, New York, as he was elected onto the executive committee for the American League of Colored Laborers, the first union for African Americans. He kept the position for two years until he went back to publishing; he started a paper called The Telegraph and [Temperance] Journal. The paper strongly advocated for Black voting rights and fought for affordable housing. In particular, it called for the repeal of the discriminatory and exorbitant property tax (250 dollars) African Americans were required to pay to buy a home. In 1855, Myers announced that The Telegraph and Journal would be incorporated in Frederick Douglass’ Paper.

Myers’s contribution to Black print and activism is invaluable. Throughout the course of his life, he published numerous articles and supported publications that inserted Black voice into a discourse that sought to silence it. Stephen Myers died in February 1870, five years after his wife died of natural causes.3


Submitted by Jeff Clampitt, English 110, Spring 2013, Taught by Professor James Casey, University of Delaware

Revised and Edited by Samantha de Vera and Kelli Coles, University of Delaware


[1] Mealey, Rich. "Myers, Stephen (1800-1870)." Myers, Stephen (1800-1870). Black Past, n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.

[2] Peter Williams, et al., “Letters from Negro Leaders to Gerrit Smith,” The Journal of Negro History 27:4 (October 1942); C. Peter Ripley, ed., The Black Abolitionist Papers, Vol. I, III, IV (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986).

[3] Correction: "Stephen Myers," Albany Evening Journal, February 16, 1870, American's Historical Newspapers. Myers's death was previously noted as October 29, 1870 based on the United States, Albany Rural Cemetary. Menands, New York, Albany Rural Cemetary Cards, 1791-2011. Albany: Albany Rural Cemetary, 1870. Web. 6 July 2013. Link



"THE IMPARTIAL CITIZEN." - The above title has just been as

"The Impartial Citizen." The North Star, 2 Feb. 1849. From Accessible Archives © 2016 Accessible Archives Inc. 

 The Free Democracy of the First Assembly District at Hudson

"The Free Democracy of the First Assembly District at Hudson.Frederick Douglass' Paper, 1 Oct. 1852. From Accessible Archives © 2016 Accessible Archives Inc. 


"Another Paper." Provincial Freeman, 6 Dec. 1856. From Accessible Archives © 2016 Accessible Archives Inc. 


"To the Readers of The Telegraph and Journal.Frederick Douglass' Paper, 4 May 1855. From Accessible Archives © 2016 Accessible Archives Inc.