You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

March 9: The Abolitionist

March 9, 2014
lincolnMoritz Pinner, founder of a bilingual abolitionist newspaper, The Kansas Post, and an early activist within the Republican Party, was born in the Grand Duchy of Posen (Poland/Germany) on this date in 1828. He emigrated to the United States at the age of 24 and mastered English very quickly, as within five years of his arrival in Baltimore he was writing against slavery for several different newspapers. Because of his opposition to slavery, he moved from New York to Boston, a hub of abolitionist activity, and then to the contested territories of Kansas and Missouri. He founded his Kansas newspaper when he was 31, and was “bitterly attacked and reviled,” according to Max J. Kohler in an 1896 lecture, “and attempts were made to frighten him away, but he stood by his post and did good service to the cause.” Pinner was elected as a Missouri delegate to the 1860 Republican Party Convention, which nominated Abraham Lincoln (not Pinner’s choice; he supported a more overtly abolitionist candidate). He had a correspondence with abolitionist Wendell Phillips between 1860 and 1875; ten of these letters can be read online. After Lincoln’s election, according to Moritz, the President offered him a diplomatic post in Honduras, but Pinner enlisted instead in the Union army, serving as captain and quartermaster. He also invented “Pinner’s Ambulance-Kitchen” which he patented in 1863 as a tool, he wrote, to “lessen the sufferings of the wounded on the battle-field... May others prove as diligent in its use as I have endeavored to be in its construction.” “[H]e became a member of the committee of thirty-nine, which distributed gratuitously in the South 100,000 copies of Helper’s book, The Impending Crisis, designed to show that slavery was, economically considered, an evil, as well as morally.” —Max J. Kohler, The Menorah Journal