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The free South. [volume] : (Beaufort, S.C.) 1863-1864
Place of publication:
Beaufort, S.C.
Geographic coverage:
  • Beaufort, Beaufort, South Carolina  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Stickney, Latta & Reed
Dates of publication:
  • Ceased in 1864.
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (Jan. 10, 1863)-
  • English
  • Beaufort (S.C.)--Newspapers.
  • Beaufort County (S.C.)--Newspapers.
  • South Carolina--Beaufort County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01209379
  • South Carolina--Beaufort.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01216715
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Available on microfilm from The University of South Carolina.
  • Latest issue consulted: Vol. 2, no. 41 (Nov. 19, 1864).
  • Publishers: James M. Latta & Co., 1863; J.G. Thompson, 1863; Wilkes & Thompson, 1863-1864.
sn 84026962
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The free South. [volume] January 17, 1863 , Image 1


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The Free South

On November 7, 1861, the Union Navy seized control of Port Royal Harbor in Beaufort County, South Carolina, securing a beachhead for a new kind of journalism-the occupation newspaper. Whereas many of the homegrown South Carolina newspapers like the Abbeville Press, Camden Weekly Journal, and Edgefield Advertiser defended secession and championed the military victories of the Confederate States Army, the Republican newspapers that sprang up in Beaufort County during the Civil War aimed to bolster the Union cause. They appealed primarily to Northern missionaries and soldiers, who may have used them in lieu of letters to keep their families informed on their whereabouts.

The Port Royal New South appeared first, in March 1862. On January 10, 1863, federal treasury agents James Melyn Latta, Hiram Reed, and Lyman Stickney established a second paper, the weekly Beaufort Free South. Historians have speculated that their motivations were primarily commercial in nature, and indeed, an estimated quarter of all columns in the Free South were filled with notices of federal tax sales. James Gordon Thompson meanwhile contributed fiery editorials that would have hardly endeared the Free South to any native Southerners. On May 16, 1863, he wrote, "A rebel has but two rights-a constitutional right to be hung and a divine right to be damned. We hope 'our southern brethren' will all avail themselves of their rights." Interestingly, Thompson stayed in South Carolina after the Civil War and worked for several Reconstruction-era newspapers, including the Beaufort Republican and Columbia Daily Union-Herald.

If the proprietors of the Free South had envisioned it as a profit-making venture, they were disappointed. In June 1863, James Latta sold his share in the Free South to Joseph Wilkes and relocated to Florida, where he accepted a position as assistant district tax commissioner and started the weekly Fernandina Peninsula. In August 1864, James Thompson contacted United States Secretary of State William Henry Seward, seeking to procure a contract to publish federal laws and, presumably, to save the newspaper. The contract was instead awarded to the New South, and the Free South folded in November. In December 1864, John E. Hayes, a wartime journalist working for the New York Daily Tribune, bought the press and used it to start printing the Savannah Republican.

Provided by: University of South Carolina; Columbia, SC