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John R. McKivigan

James Redpath was born in Berwick-upon-Tweed, on the English-Scottish border, the son of Ninian Davidson Redpath, a teacher, and Maria Main. The young Redpath immigrated to the United States in 1849 and soon found work as a reporter for the New York Tribune, published by the antislavery advocate and reformer Horace Greeley. In the mid-1850s Redpath made three journeys through the South, secretly interviewing slaves and publishing their accounts of slavery in abolitionist newspapers. After the third trip Redpath published the interviews and his impressions of the South in a book titled The Roving Editor; or, Talks with Slaves in the Southern States. The book proved controversial because Redpath allowed the slaves to voice their discontent and willingness to revolt. Frederick Douglass, a leading voice for abolition and himself a former slave, published lengthy excerpts from Redpath's book in his weekly newspaper.

In 1855 ...