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The same year that hydraulic gold mining began in Volcano, California, Thomas A. Springer published the town’s first paper, the Volcano Weekly Ledger. Debuting on October 27, 1855, the Ledger appealed to the community’s interests by covering issues unique to mining and by advocating that the Amador County seat be moved from nearby Jackson to the burgeoning town of Volcano. In the end, the county seat remained the same, the population of Volcano dwindled with its gold supply, and Springer set up shop in Jackson, debuting the Weekly Ledger on April 18, 1857. Published every Friday, the newspaper became the Amador Weekly Ledger on October 24, 1857. Though the campaign to move the county seat had failed, the Ledger maintained its political bent, supporting the North in the Civil War as a decidedly Republican paper. A competing area newspaper, the Amador Dispatch, supported the South, leading Federal authorities to arrest its editors in 1865. Republican politics carried Springer to elected office, becoming State Printer in 1871, and the Amador Weekly Ledger to success under new ownership and a new name. In 1875, the paper dropped “weekly” from its title (though still printing only once a week) to become the Amador Ledger.
The Amador Ledger entered the twentieth century with a change of ownership, but with its long-held politics in place. On January 2, 1900, the Amador County Publishing Company acquired the Amador Ledger and discontinued the Amador Republican, which it had owned for several years. The paper continued to advocate for Republican politics and to report on issues of import to the community in general, in particular the status of the local mining industry. Another transfer of ownership and editorship put Richard Webb at the helm of the Amador Ledger on June 8, 1901, along with “some of the wealthiest and most prominent men in [the] county.” Under Webb’s guidance, the Amador Ledger claimed the county’s largest circulation by the end of the decade, with the masthead touting: “It pays the business man to advertise in the Ledger.” The paper’s business friendly stance extended to its coverage of local issues, with heavy criticism of miners’ efforts to unionize.
The Amador Ledger merged with the Amador Record in 1921 to become the Amador Ledger and the Amador Record. On June 7, 1989, the paper joined with its one time enemy, the Amador Dispatch, and became the Amador Ledger-Dispatch, the title it continues to operate under today.
Provided by: University of California, Riverside; Riverside, CA