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Maryland independent. [volume] : (Port Tobacco, Md.) 1874-current
Place of publication:
Port Tobacco, Md.
Geographic coverage:
  • La Plata, Charles, Maryland  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
  • Port Tobacco, Charles, Maryland  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
  • Waldorf, Charles, Maryland  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
John S. Button & Co.
Dates of publication:
  • Began in 1874.
Semiweekly Aug. 19, 1981-
  • English
  • Charles County (Md.)--Newspapers.
  • La Plata (Md.)--Newspapers.
  • Maryland--Charles County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01212000
  • Maryland--La Plata.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01211721
  • Maryland--Port Tobacco.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01221958
  • Maryland--Waldorf.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01229428
  • Port Tobacco (Md.)--Newspapers.
  • Waldorf (Md.)--Newspapers.
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 12 (Sept. 16, 1874).
  • Published at La Plata, Md., <1894>-Apr. 27, 1977; at Waldorf, Md., May 4, 1977-
sn 85025407
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Maryland independent. [volume] September 16, 1874 , Image 1


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Maryland Independent

The Maryland Independent was founded in 1874 by John S. Button (1840-1880), a printer based in the Charles County seat of government, Port Tobacco. The emergence of this paper paralleled the ascendancy of the Republican Party in Charles County, due to an African American majority in the population that voted overwhelmingly for the party of Abraham Lincoln. In 1877, Eugene Diggs, a local lawyer and former state's attorney, joined the Independent as editor and maintained the paper's advocacy for Republican candidates and policies. This position put it at odds with the Port Tobacco Times, the county's Democratic paper, and with the rest of southern Maryland, which had large Democratic majorities.

In 1879, a revolution of sorts occurred when a local Democratic leader, Vivian Brent (1831-1906) acquired the Maryland Independent, retaining Button as the business manager. Button's death the following year, and Brent's move to Washington, D.C. to work in the federal government, led to the sale of the paper to Adrian Posey (1857-1922) in 1882. Posey was a Republican lawyer and office holder who served in the Maryland House of Delegates, the Maryland Senate, and as the Charles County state's attorney. His son, F. Stone Posey (1885-1926) joined his father in publishing the Independent, which was sold to Thomas B.R. Mudd (1890-1965) after his death in 1926. Mudd came from another prominent Republican family in the county, but his tenure at the Independent was short. Ruey P. Bowling (1894-1973) and his brother Philip B. Bowling (1904-1974) were publishing the newspaper by 1930.

Adrian Posey was one of the leaders of the campaign to move the Charles County seat from Port Tobacco to La Plata. His bitter opponent was F. Marcellus Cox, publisher of the Port Tobacco Times. The route of the Pope's Creek branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad had bypassed the old colonial port town in 1873, and the stop at La Plata led to a dramatic growth in businesses and population. Posey himself founded the Southern Maryland National Bank to finance La Plata's building boom, and he relocated the Independent to the new town once county voters voted to move the courthouse to La Plata in 1895.

In addition to its political reporting and advocacy for moving the county seat, most of the news in the Maryland Independent was decidedly local in nature. The population of Charles County declined through much of the nineteenth century as farmers struggled with poor soils depleted by years of tobacco production. As early as the 1870s, the editors of the Independent were open to inviting European immigrants to repopulate the county, while also promoting modern agricultural methods. A frequent topic that set southern Maryland apart from elsewhere was the sport of jousting. Tournaments with "knights" competing for prizes followed by grand balls were featured throughout the warm weather months. The sport continued in popularity well into the twentieth century. Slot machines were another distinctive entertainment in Charles County. Gamblers began playing the slots on Potomac riverboats that served as aquatic speakeasies during the Prohibition years. By the 1930s, illegal slot machines were a common sight in local taverns. The Independent's pro-Republican stance meant it generally supported the legalization of the slots, which eventually occurred in 1949.

Provided by: University of Maryland, College Park, MD