Tag Archives: Chronicling America

Virginia’s “last” duel

Hocking Sentinel, Logan, Ohio, 10-14-1897

Dueling, a trend that emerged in the middle ages as a way to settle disputes among European nobility, persisted among members of the American press, particularly in the South, long after the practice came to be regarded as barbaric to most Americans.  The rules for dueling were laid out in 1777, in an Irish document called the “Code Duello”. In 1838, South Carolina Governor John Lyde Wilson wrote  The Southern Code of Honor, which was very similar to the Irish code although Wilson claimed not to have seen a copy until after writing his own code. In the North, dueling was already out of fashion around the time of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr’s famous meeting in 1804.  This was not the case in the South, where the practice would not see a decline in popularity until the Civil War. To refuse a duel in the South meant suffering a “posting”, a public notice accusing the refuser of cowardice and other shaming offenses.

Joke from the Staunton Spectator, 1-17-1860. It is hard to imagine that dueling could have been so commonplace as to be the source of light humor such as this. Actually, this joke is quite similar to the result of the duel between Henry Clay and John Randolph in 1826.

19th century newspapers were often aligned with a particular political party, sometimes naming themselves for the party such as the Richmond Whig, the paper edited by William Elam which found itself the target of editorial attacks lobbed by Richard Beirne. Beirne, stalwart Funder and vitriolic editor of the State, was embarrassed by a dueling blunder and determined to prove his courage on the “field of honor”.  He aimed an editorial loaded with a racial epithet and charges of … read more »

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Virginia Citizen

Published every Friday between 1891 and 1913, the Virginia Citizen (Check digitized issues at Chronicling America.) was the first paper to serve Lancaster County, part of the Northern Neck region of Tidewater Virginia. The paper’s office in Irvington—located on an inlet from the Rappahannock River and Chesapeake Bay—was just across the street from a landing for the Rappahannock River Line, one of several steamer services linking the region’s many villages and transporting farm produce and seafood between eastern Virginia and processing plants in Baltimore. From 1897 until 1913, the newspaper proudly stated its mission: “A Weekly Journal Devoted to the interests of Lancaster County in particular, the Northern Neck and Rappahannock Valley in general, and the world at large.” By the early 1900s, circulation totaled 1,827, a heady number considering that Irvington had but 750 residents and the county 8,949. In hard times, though, the editor was not above accepting vegetables or a load of hay—almost anything other than soft-shell crabs, strawberries, or peas—in lieu of cash.

Editor since 1892, W. McDonald Lee brought considerable prestige to the paper. Lee had served as county Commissioner of Revenue and president of the Virginia Press Association in the late 1890s and during the early 1900s served as a commissioner for Virginia fisheries and president of the National Association of Fisheries Commissioners. He was particularly interested in promoting the county’s oyster (“the succulent bivalve”) industry and the welfare of “the toiling masses of Virginia oystermen.”

Lee also brought a strong, sometimes sensational, editorial fervor to the Virginia Citizen—favoring the Democratic Party, the total abstinence of alcohol, and evangelical Christianity. His mastheads mirrored these positions. An 1897 banner-line declared that the paper was “Conservative in All Things, Neutral in Nothing.” He also vigorously prodded the paper’s readers never to be “mealy-mouthed or bashful.” … read more »

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Using Chronicling America

Check out this series of video podcasts to learn how to use Chronicling America. Big thanks to the Ohio Historical Society for creating these helpful podcasts.

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Episode Title Host URL (YouTube)
NDNP Podcast 1 About the “Using Chronicling America” Podcast Series Jenni Salamon & 

Kaylie Vermillion

http://youtu.be/6NKMwneZF20
NDNP Podcast 2 What Is Chronicling America? Jenni Salamon http://youtu.be/Bvg73KAyTDA
NDNP Podcast 3 How Do I Browse? Kaylie Vermillion http://youtu.be/a9mD5A-c5jg
NDNP Podcast 4 How Do I Perform A Basic Search? Jenni Salamon http://youtu.be/cIB_Eso44B0
NDNP Podcast 5 What Will My Search Results Look Like? Jenni Salamon http://youtu.be/lzKLUwgzTuA
NDNP Podcast 6 How Do I Perform An Advanced Search? Kaylie Vermillion http://youtu.be/rEs4YgtpqB8
NDNP Podcast 7 How Do I Use The Image-Viewing Screen? Jenni Salamon http://youtu.be/iHvdqCOd4hw
NDNP Podcast 8 How Do I Zoom On An Image? Jenni Salamon http://youtu.be/Au-XwW50hJw
NDNP Podcast 9 How Do I Print An Image? Jenni Salamon http://youtu.be/NlguUm8agBE
NDNP Podcast 10 Overcoming Historical Language Barriers & Learning Alternatives To Controlled Vocabulary Jenni Salamon http://youtu.be/L_SBG7RLQIs
NDNP Podcast 11 Understanding Keyword Searching Kaylie Vermillion http://youtu.be/Dhf8Sx0ap-Q
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