Latest Postings to the Digital Repository
There are two new postings on UT’s Historical Newspapers page of its Digital Repository. The first is the Natchez Weekly Democrat from December 1876 to December 1878. For those of you who have become used to the newspapers of the early 1800’s, you will be surprised to find a column on the first page of the January 3, 1877, edition headlined, in dark black, ‘BY TELEGRAPH.’ No longer are editors limited to news furnished by letter or by other newspapers, they have the advantage of almost instantaneous news via telegraph. Despite this, the editors of the time had not misplaced their sense of humor. We are glad to hear that “Rex has issued orders for the proper celebration of Mardi Gras in New Orleans,” and that “The white whale in the New York aquarium devours half a bushel of eels daily. Fun for the whale.” We can also quickly grasp a notion of the state of the nation by this item: “The material out of which they make United States Senators in the bulldozed Southern States is not always the best kind. There is Corbin for instance, just elected by the Radical rump of South Carolina.” We are glad to know that “Gen. Stager, the new Vice-President of the Western Union Telegraph Company, is, like President Orton, and old printer.” And from this item, we conclude that a presidential election has just been contested: “It is strange that, with the electoral votes yet to be counted and a number of questions connected with them to be decided, with no agreement yet as to how the votes shall be counted, or how the questions they involve shall be decided, the Republicans talk about ‘inaugurating Hayes on the 5th of March.'” Like its predecessors, it is not above printing an anecdote about great men, in this case, about Abraham Lincoln: “President Grant has been telling Senator Gordon this story, which is not the worse for having been told before: When the three commissioners met us at Fortress Monroe, Mr. Stephens came swaddled up from top to toe, in an immense overcoat. Lincoln called me aside as Stephens was disrobing, and observed, ‘Grant, what does that performance of Stephens’ remind you of?’ I answered, ‘Mr. President, I do not know. But what does it remind you of?’ With one of his queer winks, Lincoln said: ‘It reminds me of the biggest shucks off the smallest ear I ever saw in my life.'”
The other posting adds more years to the file of the Charleston City Gazette: it is now available from January 1827 to December 1828, and from January to December of 1830. It pretty well lives up to its motto, “nothing extenuate, nor set down aught in malice.” It is probable that the editor of these years, James Haig, does not “in malice” oppose Andrew Jackson, but oppose him he does. He reports, on June 8, 1827, that “already the most efficient supporters of Gen Jackson (in Virginia) speak of him as their candidate for the Presidency, as ‘a choice of evils.’ . . .It will be perceived how easy the transition would be from such language to his abandonment altogether.” But he has the kindness to report, high in his editorial column of June 2, the presence of a shark, “eleven feet three inches long” taken within 100 yards “of the place usually resorted to by many of our young friends, to enjoy the pleasures of the salt water bath. . . . four or five of these animals have been seen at once, every day during the present week.” Haig’s predecessor, E. C. Thomas, was known for his insistence that the mails should run on time; Haig, also, notes irregularities: “We have received but a small portion of the papers due by last evening’s Northern Mail–and that more than usually destitute of interesting matter.” In the paper of June 5, the editor notes that the Salem Gazette “contains copious extracts from Calcutta papers . . .” whereupon he reprints the news via Salem from Batavia, Persia and China. But he also gives the news of the late heavy rains from the Columbia State Gazette.
About the Author
Mary Bowden is a researcher working at the Texas Collections Deposit Library at the University of Texas. A little-known but invaluable treasure of U.S. history and the history of American journalism is archived in the collection of bound United States’ Newspapers at the University of Texas at Austin. The collection began more than a century ago and has been stored in recent years in the Texas Collections Deposit Library on the campus of the University of Texas. The sizeable archive is currently in the early stages of being digitized before being moved to a more climate-controlled environment at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus of the University, on the north side of Austin.