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The Southern press. [volume] : (Washington City [i.e. Washington, D.C.]) 1850-1852
Place of publication:
Washington City [i.e. Washington, D.C.]
Geographic coverage:
  • Washington, District of Columbia  |  View more titles from this: City State
Ellwood Fisher and Edwin De Leon
Dates of publication:
  • Began in June 1850; ceased in Aug. 1852.
  • English
  • Washington (D.C.)--fast--(OCoLC)fst01204505
  • Washington (D.C.)--Newspapers.
  • Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 8 (Aug. 24, 1850).
sn 84020103
Related Titles:
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The Southern Press

On Monday, June 17, 1850, the Southern Press first appeared on the streets of Washington, D.C. Its establishment represented an extension of the Southern unity movement of 1847-52, a group of leaders seeking to resist Northern political, economic, and cultural influence. Concerned that Washington lacked a pro-South newspaper, a group of Southern congressmen appointed a committee to oversee the formation of such a publication.

Editors of the Southern Press were Ellwood Fisher and Edwin De Leon. Fisher was the senior editor and controlling power of the publication. De Leon had been editor of the Savannah (Georgia) Daily Republican. Issued daily its first year, the Southern Press was later published on a semiweekly and tri-weekly basis before returning to a daily schedule its third and final year.

According to a prospectus appearing in the June 18, 1850 issue, the Press was "devoted to the exposition and defense of southern rights and institutions, the dissemination of correct information as to northern policy, and the course of political affairs generally." In the first issue, Fisher and De Leon accused Northerners of having (1) disturbed the peace, (2) violated the fugitive slave law, (3) sought to monopolize the common territory, (4) slandered Southern domestic institutions, and (5) assumed a "sectional, unconstitutional, and anti-American" position. Fisher and De Leon also upheld Southern views on slavery, claiming that "wherever two races exist in the same community, or two classes whose moral condition is unequal, one must be subject to the other... Fisher and De Leon defended the right of secession, but did not support industrial or commercial development in the South.

From its inception, the Southern Press was an attractive newspaper of seven columns per page and the usual total of four pages, with advertising relegated to the back two pages. The editors claimed no particular political affiliation, and planned to disseminate a variety of news and information. Throughout its short life, the Press covered many topics, including general news of the day (both domestic and foreign). It also offered literary criticism and original essays- similar to what appeared in other city journals of the time. As noted, the paper focused on the question of slavery- with special emphasis given to the status of territories acquired during the Mexican-American War (1846-48) and the Compromise of 1850.

The demise of the Southern Press corresponded to the break-up of the movement for Southern unity begun in 1847. Although the newspaper ceased publication on August 9, 1852 (Fisher and De Leon claiming they were $40,000 in debt due to a lack of paying subscriptions), the Southern Press remains today an essential part of the history of Washington, D.C., and a mouthpiece for Southern perspectives during the antebellum period.


Provided by: Library of Congress, Washington, DC