The Philanthropist was an anti-slavery newspaper first published in Mount Pleasant, Ohio, in September 1817. Its first editor was Charles Osborn. He was a member of the Society of Friends who were often called "Quakers." Osborn called for an immediate end to slavery. He hoped his paper would educate white Northerners about slavery's injustice.
The paper was the first anti-slavery gazette newspaper in the United States. Osborn emerged as one of the leading abolitionists in Ohio because of the paper. Other prominent abolitionists joined The Philanthropist, including Benjamin Lundy, who contributed several articles. In October 1818, Elisha Bates acquired the newspaper from Osborn. He continued to publish it until 1822. The Philanthropist enjoyed a wide circulation, principally in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Osborn flooded southern Ohio with copies of the paper. Many southern Ohioans had migrated there from slaveholding states. A few of these people continued to own slaves although this was a violation of the Ohio Constitution.
The paper remained true to Osborn's Quaker faith. It strongly opposed the enslavement of African Americans. The Philanthropist also encouraged its readers to abstain from drinking. Under Osborn's leadership, the paper rejected a gradual end to slavery as proposed by the American Colonization Society and other abolitionists of that time. Osborn contended that only the immediate emancipation of the slaves was acceptable. Upon Bates's becoming the editor, the paper continued to support the temperance and the anti-slavery crusades. The Philanthropist also devoted space to other issues concerning Ohioans such as internal improvements and public education. Bates also called for fair treatment of the Native Americans.
In 1822, Bates stopped publishing the newspaper. In 1836, James Birney began to publish a new paper titled The Philanthropist in Cincinnati. Birney, like his predecessors, advocated an immediate end to slavery. He also believed that African Americans were entitled to equal rights and opportunities with white people. Many Cincinnatians opposed Birney's views. Some of these people were former slave owners and believed that African Americans were inferior to whites. Other people opposed slavery but believed that African Americans would move to the North and deprive white people of jobs. To prevent Birney from printing, a mob of white Cincinnatians destroyed the newspaper's printing press on July 12, 1836. Undeterred, Birney remained in Cincinnati and continued to publish his newspaper.