Tag Archives: Spotsylvania County

The Free Lance

Located in Spotsylvania County, 61 miles north of Richmond and 60 miles south of Washington, D.C., between the Tidewater and Piedmont regions of Virginia, Fredericksburg was a major port on the Rappahannock River, a significant crossroads during the late 18th and early 19th centuries and an important center of trade and commerce. The town was also the scene of fierce fighting and considerable destruction during the Civil War.

In an attempt to offer an alternative voice in postwar Virginia and to help boost the slowly recovering regional economy, the Free Lance was established in Fredericksburg in 1885 under the leadership of William E. Bradley and John W. Woltz, a former chairman of Virginia’s Republican delegation. Thirty-four stockholders also contributed to the operations of the paper as investors in the Free Lance Newspaper and Job Printing Company. It was apparent from the earliest issues of the Free Lance that the war was deeply imprinted on people’s minds and that political divisions in the South were still bitterly contentious. The Free Lance characterized itself as an “Independent” paper “devoted to Agricultural, Commercial and Manufacturing Interests of Fredericksburg and its Vicinity.” Its chief competitors, the Fredericksburg Star and the News, were decidedly Democratic. The Star immediately questioned the political leanings of Woltz and the paper’s stockholders, prompting the Free Lance in its second issue to reply: “We repeat, we see enough already to convince us that the Star is disposed ‘to pick a quarrel’ with the Lance, which we shall be slow to enter, and which we now proclaim will be unprofitable, unwise and which, we shall avoid if possible and permitted.”

In fact, the Free Lance defended its mission–and its stockholders–with vigor. “Republicans, (even though they be unnatural human beings from the standpoint of the Star), don’t feel like … read more »

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