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Southern shield. [volume] : (Helena, Ark.) 1840-1874
Place of publication:
Helena, Ark.
Geographic coverage:
  • Helena, Phillips, Arkansas  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
W.L. & Q.K. Underwood
Dates of publication:
  • Began with Feb. 8, 1840 issue; ceased in 1874?
  • English
  • Arkansas--Helena.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01217973
  • Helena (Ark.)--Newspapers.
  • Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 8 (Mar. 28, 1840).
  • Suspended during the Civil War. Cf. Gregory, W. Amer. newspapers.
sn 82014892
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Southern shield. [volume] March 28, 1840 , Image 1


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Southern Shield

Helena is along the Mississippi River in Phillips County in eastern Arkansas. Currently, Helena is combined with West Helena as the county seat, though the two were founded as separate towns. West Helena began nearby as a railroad town incorporated in 1917. Helena and West Helena were fully united in 2006 into Helena-West Helena.

The area of Helena was originally part of a Spanish land grant settled by Sylvanus Phillips in 1815. The county was later named after Phillips, who died in 1830. Helena was incorporated in 1833 and named after Phillips' daughter, Helena Phillips, who died at age 15 just a year after her father's death. Helena was prosperous due to the port on the Mississippi River at the eastern edge of town. The northern border is Crowley's Ridge, on the west is the flat Mississippi floodplain, and to the south are lowland cypress swamps and oxbow lakes. As a steamboat stop between Memphis, Tennessee and Vicksburg, Mississippi, Helena experienced early growth. Later, cotton plantations and the timber industry were the main economic pursuits. By the mid-1850s, Helena had three newspapers, six private schools, and many social groups.

In 1840, Quincy K. Underwood, Sr. and his brother Washington L. Underwood established the Southern Shield in Helena. They published under the Q.K. Underwood & Bro. Publishing group, with Quincy Underwood acting as editor. Washington Underwood died in 1851, and Quincy continued on with the paper. Over the years, Quincy acted variously as sole publisher and in conjunction with others like Taylor and Wilkins. The Southern Shield suspended publication during the Civil War after secessionists burned Underwood's newspaper office in 1861. This was in retaliation for supporting a unified United States in his newspaper. He restarted the paper soon after the Civil War ended. Underwood remained with his paper until it ceased publication in 1874. Two years later, Underwood died in his home in West Helena in his mid-50s.

The Shield ran as a weekly paper and was typically published on Saturdays. The paper supported the Whig party, of which Underwood was a prominent member. Underwood was well-regarded nationally and supported by politicians who recommended him for various political offices. In a letter addressed to President Abraham Lincoln, Richard W. Thompson (Indiana congressman and later Secretary of the Navy) commended Underwood and wanted to appoint him as military governor of Arkansas. In other praise of Underwood, a Pittsburg newspaper wrote an article in support of making Underwood a U.S. Senator representing Arkansas. Despite these commendations, the only office Underwood appears to have held was as probate and county judge in Phillips County.

Provided by: Arkansas State Archives