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1800-1860: Communications: Chronology

1800-1860: Communications: Chronology





  • The westernmost post office in the nation opens in Natchez, Mississippi.


  • Jan. Medley, or Monthly Miscellany publishes its first twenty-page issue in Lexington, Kentucky. It is the first general magazine west of Pittsburgh, and Lexington soon becomes home to several other Western periodicals.


  • 5 Nov. News of Meriwether Lewis and William Clarks return to St. Louis from the Pacific is published in Bostons Columbian Centinel, more than six weeks after the actual event. The news travels through the mail from St. Louis to Baltimore and than to Boston.


  • The first newspaper published was of the Mississippi, The Missouri Gazette, begins operation in St. Louis.


  • Niles Weekly Register, a magazine based in Baltimore and Washington that came to have nationwide circulation, is founded


  • American troops under the command of Anderw Jackson repulse a British attack on New Orleans. Still in the pretelegraph era, however, both sides are unaware that the Treaty of Ghent, signed two weeks earlier, had ended the war.


  • The American Tract Society begins to circulate religious material on the frontier, promoting reading and education in the West.


  • Aug. William Gibbes Hunt, a scholarly New Englander living in Lexington, Kentucky, issues the first volume of a new montlhy, Western Review and Miscellaneous Magazine. Teh magazine published scientific articles, poetry, literary reviews, and political essays, reflecting the interests of its contributors, several of whom were professors at Lexingtons Transylvania University, a leading school in the region.


  • Western Reviews suspends publication.


  • Photography pioneer Matthew Brady is born in Warren Country, New York.



  • Henry Rowe Schoolcraft begins publication of The Muzzinyegun or Literary Voyager in Sault St. Marie, Michigan, a weekly magazine devoted to Native American issues, Western topics, and poetry. Schoolcraft writes many of the entries himself, using information from Ojibwa sources, including his Native American wife, Jane, and her family.


  • 16 Mar. Freedoms Journal, the first African American newspaper, is established in New York by John B. Russwurm (the first African American to graduate from a college in the United States) and the Reverend Samuel Cornish. The antislavery paper is founded in response to an attack on black leaders by the New York Enquirer. We wish to plead our own cause, the editors of Freedoms Journal declare. Too long have others spoken for us.


  • The Cherokee Phoenix begins publication in New Echota, Georgia. Editor Elias Boudinot prints the paper in English and Cherokee, using Sequoyahs eighty-six-symbol syllabary.


  • Freedoms Journal ceases publication.


  • July A new magazine for women, Godeys Ladys Book, appears. Publisher Louis A. Godey of Philadelphia increases the magazines circulation to an impressive twenty-five thousand after nine years by printing sentimental, uplifting stories and verse, material thought suitable for fair Ladies.


  • 1 Jan . William Lloyd Garrison begins publication of The Liberator in Boston. The newspaper soon becomes one of the most important weapons in the arsenal of abolitionists who aim to use Gods truth to expose the evils of slavery in the United States.


  • After living and writing in Europe for years, Washington Irving joins a government expedition to the American West. Irving travels as far as present-day Norman, Oklahoma, before turning back.


  • Irving publishes A Tour on the Prairies.
  • The first weekly newspaper, El Crepusculo (The Dawn), is published in Taos, a city once part of Spains American territory. Only four issues are published.
  • Mar. Baptist missionaries in Shawnee Mission, Kansas, begin publication of Siwinowe Kesibwi (or Shawnee Sun), the first periodical published entirely in a Native American language. The newspaper uses a Shawnee orthography developed by the missionary and printer Jotham Meeker.


  • Sarah J. Hale becomes literary editor of Godeys Ladys Book. Hale improves the quality of the writing in the magazine and promotes the training of women as teachers, seminarians, and doctors.
  • George Wilkins Kendall establishes the New Orleans Picayune. The Picayune is the citys first penny paper, which helps the new paper thrive. Kendall goes on to become a leading supporter of Texas independence and a war reporter during the Mexican War.


  • Oct . The Committee of the Oregon Provisional Emigration Society begins publication of The Oregonian, and Indians Advocate in Lynn, Massachusetts. The editors intend for their publication to educate and assist Native Americans as their lands are settled by whites, but the magazine ceases publication the next year.


  • Siwinowe Kesibwi ceases publication.


  • Siwinowe Kesibwi resumes publication.
  • The New York Weekly Tribune is founded by Horace Greeley and continues its pressrun until 1901.


  • Matthew Brady begins making daguerreotypes in New York City. Brady goes on to become one of the most important photographers of his day, documenting Civil War battlefields. Engravings based on his photographs become a regular feature of Harpers Weekly, an important nineteenth-century illustrated newspaper.
  • Samuel F. B. Morse, painter and inventor, sends the first telegraph message on a line between Washington and Baltimore, launching a communication revolution.
  • The Cherokee Advocate, a weekly newspaper published in English and Cherokee, begins operation in Tahlequah, Indian Territory. Editor William Potter Ross, a graduate of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), uses the paper to advance the intellectual and moral life of the Cherokees and to spread accurate information about the tribe to American readers.


  • The phrase manifest destiny is printed for the first time in the popular press. Commenting on the annexation of Texas, John Louis OSullivan, editor of the United States Magazine and Democratic Review, notes that the annexation defeated the European powers who had operated with the avowed object of thwarting our policy and hampering our power, limiting our greatness and checking the fulfillment of our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.
  • The Californian begins publication in Monterey, the first newspaper in California.
  • Several popular Western guidebooks begin to appear, including The Emigrants Guide to Oregon and California by Lansford Warren Hastings.
  • 3 June Cassius M. Clay establishes The True American in Lexington, Kentucky, a newspaper dedicated to the cause of abolishing slavery in the United States. Clay is attacked from the start, and he moves the paper to Louisville as the Examiner, where it ceases publication the next year.


  • Overton Johnson and William H. Winter publish Route across the Rocky Mountains, with a Description of Oregon and California.


  • The Chicago Tribune is founded.
  • Frederick Douglass, the most famous former slave in antebellum America, begins The North Star, an antislavery newspaper in Rochester, New York. The first issue declares Right is of no SexTruth is of no ColorGod is the Father of us all, and we are all Brethren. However, Douglasss enemies disagree, burning his house and destroying his papers.


  • The New York Herald reports the discovery of gold at Sutters Mill in California, helping promote gold fever around the nation.
  • May David Hale of the New York Journal of Commerce calls a meeting of New Yorks most important publishers. His purpose is to form a cooperative news-gathering effort, saving each of the six newspapers represented the cost of expensive telegraphic news. The meeting leads to the organization of the New York Associated Press, which soon hires Alexander Jones, a physician-turned-reporter, as its first general agent. Eventually several regional news-gathering cooperatives are organized, including the Western Associated Press.



  • Frederick Douglass renames his paper Frederick DouglassPaper and continues to publish it until 1860.
  • The phrase, Go West, Young Man. Go West!, originally written by editor John Soule of the Terre Haute Express, is popularized by New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley, one of the most enthusiastic promoters of Western expansion in the nineteenth century.


  • The Columbian newspaper is founded in Olympia, Washington.


  • The Kansas Weekly Herald, the first newspaper in Kansas, begins publication under an elm tree on the townsite of Leavenworth, before any buildings are erected. The paper continues under two other names until 1861.
  • 3 Aug. A ninety-page novel, The Life and Adventures of joaquin Murieta, the Celebrated California Bandit, is published in San Francisco. The author is John Rollin Ridge, a Cherokee Indian from Arkansas who came West during the Gold Rush. Finding little gold, Ridge became a California journalist and one of the first Native American novelists.


  • Frank Leslies Illustrated Newspaper begins publication in New York City. Leslies and Harpers Weekly are pioneers of visual communication, turning artists sketches and photographs into impressive and popular wood engravings. Both papers send artists west to document American expansion.
  • Joseph Medill and Charles Ray purchase the Chicago Tribune and transform it into one of the most important newspapers in the United States.


  • Congress authorizes the postmaster general to secure bids for an overland stage service to carry mail and passengers from Missouri to San Francisco. The Brigham Young Carrying and Express Company, known as the XY Company, wins the contract. The first mail delivery from Independence, Missouri, to Salt Lake City takes twenty-six days. The federal government cancels the contract after only six months.
  • A rail line between St. Louis and New York City is completed, inspiring dreams of a transcontinental railroad.


  • 17 Aug. England and America are connected for the first time by the Atlantic telegraph cable; it breaks within a few weeks.


  • William N. Byers launches The Rocky Mountain News, a modest newspaper that he uses to boost the fortunes of Denver.
  • Horace Greeley begins a trip across the country, sending dispatches about his journey to the New York Tribune. Greeley attests to the rich land and resources in the West and scouts the best route for the transcontinental railroad. He is less impressed with the Indians he encounters along the way, calling them children.
  • Mar. Arizonas first newspaper, the Weekly Arizonian, is printed in Tumac. The papers press was shipped around Cape Horn to California and then by wagon to the town.


  • Godeys Ladys Book reaches a national circulation of 150,000.
  • Bret Hart, writer for the Union (now Arcata), California, Northern Californian, is forced to resign from the paper by angry citizens after writing an editorial criticizing white citizens for killing Native Americans.
  • Publisher Irwin Beadle begins his series of dime novels with Maleska: The Indian Wife of the White Hunter, written by Ann Sophia Stevens.
  • Feb . Frank Leslies Illustrated Newspaper claims a circulation of 164,000; that of Harpers Weekly is about 100,000.
  • 3 Apr . A Pony Express rider heads west out of St. Joseph, Missouri, with forty-nine letters and a special newspaper edition in his saddlebag. Ten days later the last in a two-thousand-mile line of riders reaches Sacramento, California, where a boat takes the mail, rider, and horse on to San Francisco. The Pony Express captures the nations imagination, but it is doomed from the start. The service closes on 26 October 1861, two days after Western Union opened its transcontinental telegraph line.

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