Edward E. Cooper was born in Florida in 1859. He founded short-lived Colored World in Indianapolis in 1878, which was later revived as the Indianapolis World. He founded the Indianapolis Freeman in July 1888 as a politically independent, national newspaper. Within a few months, he expanded and changed the paper's format, making the Freeman the nation's first African American illustrated newspaper. The paper’s satirical cartoons were so pointed that they sometimes drew criticism from the African American community. In 1893, Cooper left as Freeman editor to found the Colored American in Washington, DC.