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Edwardsville spectator. [volume] : (Edwardsville, Ill.) 1819-1826
Place of publication:
Edwardsville, Ill.
Geographic coverage:
  • Edwardsville, Madison, Illinois  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Hooper Warren
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (May 29, 1819)-v. 7, no. 52 (Oct. 20, 1826).
  • English
  • Antislavery movements--Illinois--Edwardsville--Newspapers.
  • Antislavery movements.--fast--(OCoLC)fst00810800
  • Edwardsville (Ill.)--Newspapers.
  • Illinois--Edwardsville.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01219176
  • "Anti-Slavery."
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Available on microfilm;
  • Not published June 21-July 23 and Dec. 24-31, 1825; Feb. 11 and Mar. 18, 1826.
sn 82015374
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Edwardsville spectator.

The Edwardsville Spectator was a weekly antislavery newspaper that ran from 1819-1826 in recently-incorporated Edwardsville, Illinois. Founded a year after Illinois was admitted to the United States, it was created by George Churchill and Hooper Warren, veteran printers who had previously worked together at the Missouri Gazette. Senator—and later, governor—Ninian Edwards invited them to Edwardsville to start a newspaper, financed by him, that would serve Edwards's agenda. Churchill only stayed on for a year, but Warren continued to print the paper and authored editorials in almost every issue. The Spectator found its purpose in battling pro-slavery politics, especially the Missouri Compromise in 1820 and the convention to amend the state's constitution in 1824. Despite having illegally enslaved people until at least 1815, Edwards surprisingly did not object to this focus, and he even wrote letters and editorials for the paper. His support was possibly because the Spectator was anti-slavery, as opposed to actively abolitionist: it lobbied against the further expansion of slavery, but it still ran advertisements selling enslaved people and promising rewards for the capture of fugitives. The political turmoil surrounding the question of slavery in Illinois and Warren's passionate editorials against it helped make the Spectator the most widely read paper in the state, but also earned it powerful enemies. Senator Theophilus Smith, who established the pro-slavery Illinois Republican in 1823 to oppose the Spectator and frequently traded barbed editorials with it, once entered the paper's offices and attempted to assault Warren with a whip and knife before being driven out.

The Spectator lost most of its momentum after 1824, when Illinois voters rejected a constitutional convention that might legalize slavery in the state. In 1825, Warren sold the paper to Thomas Lippincott and Jeremiah Abbot, purchased half of the National Crisis, and in November, moved to Cincinnati to work on it. Alas, the Spectator lasted only another year as delinquent subscribers meant the paper quickly ran out of money; it announced it was going on hiatus in October 1826. Warren returned to Illinois shortly thereafter, and at Governor Edwards's urging, moved the press and equipment to Springfield to found the Sangamo Spectator in 1827. That quickly folded, and Warren moved to the mining town of Galena, IL in 1829 to edit the Galena Advertiser, which lasted less than a year. After a dark winter (and many despondent letters to Edwards) Warren accepted a clerkship in Putnam County in 1831, and he resolved never to make a living by printing again. He stayed true to his word, but the press called him back. Around 1840 he came out of retirement to edit the state's first explicitly abolitionist title, the Genius of Liberty; its successor, the Western Citizen; and the Commercial Advertiser. At the end of his long career, Warren had worked on nine papers across six Illinois counties, most of them working to abolish slavery. He died in Henry County in 1864, less than a year before the Civil War ended.

Provided by: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL