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The Alexandria herald. [volume] : (Alexandria [Va.]) 1811-1826
Alternative Titles:
  • Alexandria Columbia herald <May 2-Dec. 28, 1825>
Place of publication:
Alexandria [Va.]
Geographic coverage:
  • Alexandria, Virginia  |  View more titles from this: City State
J. Corse & N. Rounsavell
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (June 3, 1811)-v. 16, no. 2466 (Nov. 15, 1826).
Semiweekly <July 21-Nov. 15, 1826>
  • English
  • Alexandria (Va.)--Newspapers.
  • Virginia--Alexandria.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01206236
  • Also available online.
  • Also issued on microfilm from the Library of Congress, Photoduplication Service, and from West Virginia University Library Photoduplication section.
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Includes bibliographical references (Shaw & Shoemaker 22171; Brigham, C.S. Amer. newspapers, page 1110).
  • Publishers: Rounsavell & Pittman, <1821>-July 26, 1822; Henry Pittman, July 29, 1822-182<5>.
  • The word "Columbia" printed over the masthead ornament, May 2-Dec. 28, 1825.
sn 84024513
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The Alexandria herald. [volume] June 21, 1813 , Image 1


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The Alexandria Herald

The Alexandria Herald was established in Alexandria, Virginia, on June 3, 1811, as a predominantly local paper. Published semiweekly to triweekly, the six-page paper primarily covered financial and political news within the city, but it also broadcast national events, such as public addresses from then-President James Madison on the conduct of the War of 1812 against Great Britain.

One of Virginia's earliest English towns, Alexandria boasted a lucrative tobacco industry during the colonial period. On November 1, 1748, a petition was submitted to the House of Burgesses by Fairfax County representative Lawrence Washington, on behalf of "inhabitants of Fairfax (Co.) praying that a town may be established at Hunting Creek Warehouse on Potowmack River." Lawrence's younger brother, George Washington—then an aspiring surveyor—made a sketch of the Potomac's shoreline to demonstrate Alexandria's potential locational advantages for the tobacco trade. In 1791, during President Washington's administration, the County of Alexandria was ceded by the state to the U.S. government and incorporated into the newly established District of Columbia. In 1846, during a downsize of the nation's capital, a portion of Alexandria—excluding what is now Arlington County—was retroceded to the state of Virginia. The Herald demonstrated Alexandria's important social and political connection to Washington, D.C., with its masthead, "Columbia."

Over sixty years after Washington's successful petition, John Corse and Nathaniel Rounsavell began publishing the Alexandria Herald as a semi-weekly. Shortly thereafter, on November 4, 1811, they increased the paper's circulation to a tri-weekly, and they continued to co-publish the paper until 1820. Henry Pittman replaced Corse as Rounsavell's partner, and from 1820 until May of 1822, they jointly published. Pittman then became its sole publisher until its final issue on November 15, 1826. Thereafter, the Herald was consolidated with the Washington Gazette and continued as the United States' Telegraph, which was circulated in Alexandria and Washington, D.C. from 1826-1837. Throughout the Herald's tenure from 1811-1826, the city experienced the War of 1812 and later became one of the antebellum United States' principal slave-trading centers. As with most antebellum newspapers published in the South, the Alexandria Herald printed fugitive slave advertisements posted by enslavers, as well as jailers who held fugitive slaves. The ads were one tool, among many, used to police and control the movement of the enslaved.

In 1814, during the War of 1812, Alexandria was raided by the British fleet just days after its invasion and burning of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. The Royal Navy forced the city's surrender and looted its stores and warehouses. The Herald would report in great detail on these national events. While the paper published original articles, they were also quick to republish existing accounts from other newspapers - much like today's wire services - as the war covered massive distances, from Canada to New Orleans. For example, reporting on the Battle of Beaver Dam in July 1813, the Herald used a dispatch originally published in the Buffalo Gazette.

Provided by: Library of Virginia; Richmond, VA