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American citizen. [volume] : (Canton, Miss.) 1851-1863
Place of publication:
Canton, Miss.
Geographic coverage:
  • Canton, Madison, Mississippi  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
J.F. Bosworth
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (Feb. 1, 1851)-v. 14, no. 37 (Nov. 14, 1863).
  • English
  • Canton (Miss.)--Newspapers.
  • Mississippi--Canton.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01219893
  • Also issued on microfilm from UMI.
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • None published, July 4-Sept. 11, 1863?
sn 83016736
Preceding Titles:
Succeeding Titles:
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American citizen. [volume] January 15, 1859 , Image 1


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Canton Herald and Mississippi Intelligencer, Canton Herald, Madison Whig Advocate, The Mississippi Creole, American Citizen, The Tri-Weekly Citizen and American Citizen

Cotton was the primary crop in Madison County, one of the richest farming sections of antebellum Mississippi. An important railroad center, Canton, the county seat, was the northern terminus of the New Orleans, Jackson, and Great Northern, and the southern terminus for the Mississippi Central lines. When fighting came during the Civil War, the railroads were the target. In 1874 the two lines were bought and reorganized by the Illinois Central. By the end of the 19th century, diversification added fruits and vegetables, shipped by rail to northern markets, as profitable agricultural products.

Canton's long-running American Citizen (1851-63, 1864-90) had several preceding four-page, weekly titles that supported the Whig Party: Canton Herald and Mississippi Intelligencer (1836?-37); Canton Herald (1837-39); Madison Whig Advocate, also known as the Madison County Whig Advocate (1839-41); and the Mississippi Creole (1841-51). During the Civil War, the Tri-weekly Citizen (1863-64) was just two pages long. Shortly after the war, the American Citizen paper appeared on a semiweekly basis (1865-66) before returning to its pre-war format and frequency of four pages published weekly.

Although clearly Southern in sentiment, the political affiliation of the papers was not always proclaimed. John F. Bosworth, who joined Creole editor John N. Montgomery in 1851, was a member of the short-lived, moderate Constitutional Union Party after the Whig Party's demise. The paper's motto in the early 1870s, "Bound by no Party's arbitrary sway, We follow Truth wher'er she leads the way," did not tie the American Citizen to any party doctrine. After Bosworth's death in 1873, other family members ran the enterprise, often with partners, most notably Bosworth's wife, Augusta. As a strong business manager, she successfully solicited advertisers from as far away as New Orleans and Memphis. Affiliation was hinted at briefly, from July 1874 through 1875, when the Republican Publishing Company published the paper. In its June 24, 1876 issue, the competing Democratic Canton Mail (1865?-82) pointedly noted that "the American Citizen styles itself a home democratic paper. It was only a few short months ago that it rejoiced in styling itself a Republican paper."

Available issues of the American Citizen's run give a rare look at almost continuous coverage of Mississippi history from 1837 until 1881. Discussion of the 1830s-40s banking crisis and events leading to secession in the 1850s was found in early titles. As one would expect, the Civil War was the most significant event covered by the Citizen. Throughout the war years, the paper included steady pleas for shoes, socks, pants, and blankets for Confederate soldiers, and food, bandages, and medicine for the hospital based in Canton. Entertainments for the troops, such as concerts, tableaus, and charades, were reported. Useful tips for dealing with shortages included how to make tallow candles and black dye using walnut leaves. When the newspaper's editors explained reductions in the size, quality and number of pages of their publication, they frequently mentioned the shortage and high price of paper. Most battle reports focused on Mississippi, including the September 19, 1863 issue that explained the two-month suspension of the Citizen and described the Union occupation of Canton and destruction of the railroads by Union troops. The Citizen estimated "the entire loss of railroad property . . . at $2,000,000."

After the Civil War, the American Citizen printed the typical late 19th-century mix of national news, general interest stories, fiction, and local concerns. Discussion of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and the Fifteenth Amendments reflected conservative southern attitudes, as did the Mississippi constitutional convention in 1868 and the possibility of reviving the national Ku Klux law in 1872. Unlike other Mississippi newspapers, however, the Citizen supported Republican Governor Adelbert Ames (1874-76) and Republican candidates in national elections. Closer to home, the Citizen reported on the railroads in Mississippi throughout the 1870s and on the 1878 yellow fever epidemic.

Provided by: Mississippi Department of Archives and History