There were two newspapers in Troy with which Rev. Henry Highland Garnet was involved, the Clarion and the National Watchman. There is not a lot known about either newspaper, not even the years in which they were in operation; different texts make different claims.
The Afro-American Press and Its Editors (1893) by Irvine Garland Penn, for example, claimed that the National Watchman began in 1842 and that when it ceased to publish the Clarion began. Some even claim they were published simultaneously. A Masters thesis from several years ago claimed that no issues of either newspaper survive. However, a dissertation from several decades ago noted that an issue of the Clarion from October 1843 does survive.
Upon initial searches, the only mentions of the National Watchman in other newspapers seem to be from 1847 (two examples of quoted material from it in other papers appear below). Thus it would appear that the Clarion was the first of the two, not the other way around as is often claimed.
Rev. Mr. GARNET announces, in a neat and well written introductory, his connection with Mr. [William G.] ALLEN in the editorial department of the National Watchman. Both of these gentlemen are good writers and they will no doubt make an interesting paper.
Northern Budget [Troy, NY]. July 30, 1847: 2 col 3.
One of the most wicked and disgraceful forms in which prejudice against color manifests itself at the North, is in refusing ordinary travelling accommodations to colored passengers. On board one of the magnificent steamers of Long Island Sound, a few days since, we met a colored clergyman of the Episcopal Church, who assured us that he had been indebted to the compassion of a black waiter for a miserable night’s rest on a berth temporarily fitted up—the rules of the boat not allowing colored men to enjoy the privileges of the cabin. The editor of the National Watchman, a colored man, speaks of this custom in the following language:—
‘For meanness and absolute villainy, the steamboat proprietors and railroad conductors on the route from New York to Boston, via Stonington and Providence, certainly stand pre-eminent. With the sailor, we ask, ‘If the devil does not get these men, what use can there be of a devil?’
‘On the route, via Stonington, we last fall took passage from New York to Boston. Unable on any consideration to get passage in the cabin, we were compelled to remain on deck, and though somewhat secured from the inclemency of the weather, our situation was anything else than desirable. In company with us was a clergyman of New York city. This friend ordered supper, and accordingly, between ten and eleven o’clock at night, he was directed into the kitchen!—his supper served up on a shelf, and to this he had to stand like a horse to his fodder! On arriving at Stonington, we were shown into our appropriate places—the second class cars; and here, amid every variety of ruffianism, vulgarism, and loaferism, we sat it out till we reached the city of Providence.
‘Within the last week or so we took passage, via Norwich, from Boston to New York; and although we had procured a cabin ticket in Boston, when we arrived on board the steamboat, the clerk was desirous of paying us back a dollar, and compelling us to take the deck. Our talk at the office having attracted the attention of many, the man became finally so ashamed that we at last went down into the cabin, no one offering hinderance. We cherish hopes of this man. Shame is at least one step in the ladder of true reform.’
Liberator [Boston, MA]. August 13, 1847: 120 col 2.
☞ We have received ‘The Narrative of WILLIAM W. BROWN, a fugitive slave, written by himself, and published at the Anti-Slavery Office, No. 21 Cornhill, Boston.
The same sad story of wrongs and cruelties which a DOUGLASS and [Henry] BIBB and the CLARKS have told in the ear of sympathizing thousands, and which none can read or hear without feeling his whole soul aroused against a system of such vile oppression—such daring outrage upon humanity, and such an insult and mockery to Heaven—such blasphemy to the religion of Christ.—What a chapter will the narrative of American Slavery make in the book of God’s remembrance is the last great day! How awful, that ‘holy men,’ in his name, ‘give Scripture for the dead’!
‘Go teach us well
Of holy truth from falsehood born!
Of heaven refresh’d from airs of hell!
Of virtue nursed by open vice,
Of demons plagueing Paradise.’
Liberator. August 27, 1847: 1 col 6. [Poem is by John Greenleaf Whittier; “plagueing” should be planting.]
Curiously, there is a third paper that is sometimes named. The Negro Newspaper (1948) by Vishnu Vitthal Oak had identified “the People’s Press (1843) in Troy by Thomas Hamilton and John Dias.” The Black Press, 1827-1890: The Quest for National Identity (1972) by Martin E. Dann and In The Company Of Black Men: The African Influence on African American Culture in New York City (2001) by Craig Steven Wilder are among the others stating the same. The People’s Press appears, however, to have actually been a New York City-based newspaper:
By 1841, Thomas felt that he was ready, launching the People’s Press with his friend John Dias. In his own publication, Charles B. Ray praised the teens for their ingenuity and spirit:
The People’s Press is a new weekly published in this city, a little more than half the size of our own, under the direction of two young brethren, yet in their teens, the third number of which has been issued, and sent abroad, to tell its own story, and to be judged of by those who read. Suffice it to say that it is quite a spicy little sheet. Onward is the watchword. [NY Colored American, 30 October 1841]
Tripp, Bernell E. “Like Father, Like Son: The Antislavery Legacy of William Hamilton.” Seeking a Voice: Images of Race and Gender in the 19th Century Press. eds. David B. Sachsman, S. Kittrell Rushing, Roy Morris, Jr. IN: Purdue UP, 2009. 98-99.
No issues of it seem to have survived, though some pieces from it were reprinted in other newspapers of the time. Though not a Troy paper, it can be stated that the People’s Press was read in the area:
THE PEOPLE’S PRESS.—We have read with great pleasure the last, as well as subsequent numbers of the above paper, and recommend it as worthy of the patronage of the public in general, but more especially of our colored friends, for whose interest and instruction it is mainly devoted. It is truly gratifying to perceive its increasing interest. May success attend it.
Northern Star and Freeman’s Advocate [Albany, NY]. March 17, 1842: 35.
Congress has the power to make a remedy, but will it exercise that power? No! A body, ruled by slaveholders, a body which has denied the right of freemen to petition for the abolition of slavery on their own domain, will never enact any law which may delay the slaveholder in seizing upon his prey. ‘Get free papers,’ said a friend, ‘and let every colored person carry them with him.’ The only kind of free papers that could be effectual against a kidnapper’s claim, would be a pair with wooden stocks and iron barrels, well loaded to the muzzle. Since, therefore, we are liable to be kidnapped, and the State laws cannot, and the Congress of the United States will not protect us, we are compelled, and in duty bound, to take measures to PROTECT OURSELVES. There is not a moment to be lost; the blood-hounds, let loose, are already on our track, and ere another day has elapsed, some father, or mother, or son, or daughter, will be hunted down, and throttled, and manacled, and borne away to the fields of blood and death!
Let us then PROTECT OURSELVES! Let us meet and organize, firmly and efficiently, to RESIST TO THE DEATH, and every attempt to kidnap any of our brethren. Let us publish our determination far and wide, that the kidnapper may know that we are prepared for him, and will rush, one and all, by day or at midnight, at a known signal, to snatch from his hands the victim of his cupidity. Let us organize for this great, this holy purpose, and let us petition the Legislature for a grant of power to protect our own bodies from slavery. We must organize, or we must perish. Let our young men begin to move. They that are forming clubs and other associations, in order to eat and drink and dance in their chains—let them form a club which shall extend from the Aristook to the Mississippi, from Mason and Dixon’s line to the lakes, and let them enroll every one able to shriek out Kidnapper! Kidnapper!
We know that we are treading on what some may call dangerous ground and inflammatory language. We appeal to our past calmness, in proof that we are not lightly moved to strong expressions. In what we say, we simply obey the irresistible dictates of our bosoms. We cannot, at such a crisis, disgrace the PEOPLE’S PRESS, by neglecting ‘TO CALL UPON THE PEOPLE TO COME TO THE RESCUE!’
NOTE.—Since writing the above, we have seen the Decision. It throws the mode of arresting a fugitive slave upon the old Congress Law, which declares that the claimant shall carry the fugitive before a magistrate in the State where he is seized, &c. If this law had been efficient to protect their colored citizens from kidnappers, the States would never have enacted the Trial by Jury Law. Nor would there ever have occurred those old time mobs for the rescue. As we are thrown back upon the same law of Congress, we are placed in the same danger now as we were in them. And if, at the first arrest of an alleged fugitive, there is no gathering, we shall be compelled to believe that there is not a ‘healthy state of public feeling,’ at present, in existence.
The Liberator [Boston, MA]. March 18, 1842: 42  col 3.
Prospect of War.
Whilst we look forward with some degree of curiosity to learn in what manner our Secretary of State will sneak out of the bullying position into which his late despatch has placed him, we cannot shut our eyes to the fact, that the decision of the British Parliament, neither to indemnify, nor to deliver up the self-liberated slaves of the Creole, may lead to war. And as it is well ‘in time of peace to prepare for war,’ let us seriously and solemnly ask our brethren to make up their minds now, as to the position they may assume in such a catastrophe.
If war be declared, shall we fight with the chains upon our limbs? Will we fight in defence of a government which denies us the most precious right of citizenship? Shall we shed our blood in defence of the American slave trade? Shall we make our bodies a rampart in defence of American slavery?
We ask these questions, because there is no law in existence which can compel us to fight, and any fighting on our part, must be a VOLUNTARY ACT. The States in which we dwell have twice availed themselves of our voluntary services, and have repaid us with chains and slavery. Shall we a third time kiss the foot that crushes us? If so, we deserve our chains. No! let us maintain an organized neutrality, until the laws of the Union and of all the States have made us free and equal citizens.
The Liberator [Boston, MA]. April 1, 1842: 1 cols 2-3.