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About Constitutional Whig. [volume] (Richmond, Va.) 1824-1832
Richmond, Va. (1824-1832)
- Constitutional Whig. [volume] : (Richmond, Va.) 1824-1832
- Alternative Titles:
- Richmond Whig
- Place of publication:
- Richmond, Va.
- Geographic coverage:
- Pleasants & Butler
- Dates of publication:
- Vol. 1, no. 1 (Jan. 27, 1824)-v. 9, no. 105 (Dec. 28, 1832).
- Richmond (Va.)--Newspapers.
- Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
- Publisher varies: Pleasants & Du-Val, 1824-1825; J.H. Pleasants, 1825; Pleasants & Jones, 1825-1826; J.H. Pleasants, 1826; Pleasants & Smith, 1826-1829; Pleasants & Co., 1829; Pleasants, Abbott & Co., 1829-1830; Pleasants & Abbott, 1830-<1832>.
- Triweekly during the State Convention, <1829>.
- sn 83045110
- Succeeding Titles:
- Related Titles:
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- First Issue Last Issue
Constitutional Whig, Daily Richmond Whig, Daily Richmond Whig & Public Advertiser, and Richmond Whig
John Hampden Pleasants, born in Goochland, Virginia in 1797 and educated at William and Mary, practiced law before becoming a newspaper publisher in Richmond when he started the Whig in February of 1824. Initially published as a semiweekly under the title the Constitutional Whig, Pleasants' newspaper competed with the Democratic Richmond Enquirer, published by his political nemesis, Thomas Ritchie. The discord between the two editors was so intense that it culminated in a duel on Feb. 27, 1846, an encounter that led to Pleasants' death at age 49. Though its founder was gone, the Whig carried on for many years.
A daily edition of the Daily Richmond Whig began in 1828 with several title fluctuations throughout its lifespan, until it was absorbed by Richmond's The Daily Times in 1888. Except for a suspension during the Civil War, a weekly edition of the paper was also published from 1841-1888. With the motto, "Democracy, the Constitution, and State Rights," the Whig initially supported states' rights and opposed national banks, but by the 1830s, had shifted its support to the Second National Bank. By the mid-nineteenth century, Richmond was a Whig stronghold, in spite of the rest of the state being solidly Democratic, which kept the paper a popular choice for local readers.
On the subject of slavery,the Whig endorsed gradual emancipation, until its unpopular position forced it to tone down its anti-slavery editorials. As sectional tensions grew and Civil War loomed, the Whig encouraged remaining in the Union, but when Lincoln called for a standing militia in the aftermath of Fort Sumter in April 1861, the Whig joined the call for succession. Though it was supportive of the Confederacy throughout the war,the Whig's columns often voiced harsh criticisms of Jefferson Davis and his administration.
In May 1862, the Daily Richmond Whig stopped printing a title on its front page and went from four pages to a half sheet format in an effort to conserve paper. "The Whig presents itself this morning with diminished proportions," it explained on May 15, 1862, "In thus accommodating ourselves to the exigencies of the times, the disagreeableness of the necessity is relieved by the fact that the amount of reading matter will be immaterially, if at all, diminished." As the war carried on and the South's prospects of victory diminished, the Whig tried to boost morale by ignoring Union successes on the battlefield.
After Federal troops occupied Richmond, the Whig was the first newspaper in the city to be operational again and was transferred to William Ira Smith, who changed its motto to, "The Union, the Constitution, and the Enforcement of the Law." With the May 1, 1865 issue, Smith asked readers, "Will the men and women of Virginia fold their arms and maintain a sullen silence, or will they, with generous and cordial effort, do what they can to restore happiness and peace to our country?" In the aftermath of war, the Whig became Richmond's voice for the Union.
Provided by: Library of Virginia; Richmond, VA