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Berkeley and Jefferson intelligencer. [volume] : (Martinsburg, Va.) 1802-1810
Place of publication:
Martinsburg, Va.
Geographic coverage:
  • Martinsburg, Berkeley, Virginia  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
  • Martinsburg, Berkeley, West Virginia  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
John Alburtis
Dates of publication:
  • Began by Jan. 1802?
  • Ceased in 1810.
  • English
  • Martinsburg (W. Va.)--Newspapers.
  • West Virginia--Martinsburg.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01224867
  • Description based on: Vol. 4, no. 41 (Jan. 7, 1803).
  • Latest issue consulted: Vol. 10, no. 32 (Dec. 30, 1808)= whole no. 500.
  • Supplements accompany: Aug. 3, 1804, Dec. 20. 1805, Apr. 1, 1808.
sn 85059525
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Berkeley and Jefferson intelligencer. [volume] January 7, 1803 , Image 1


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Berkeley and Jefferson Intelligencer

Located in the northeastern panhandle of current day West Virginia, the Berkeley and Jefferson Intelligencer provided residents of Martinsburg, Virginia with a range of news coverage, from local store openings to international correspondence regarding conflicts like the First Barbary War. In 1802, 24-year-old John Alburtis founded the paper in response to political differences with his former supervisor and colleague Nathanial Willis, Sr. at the Potomak Guardian. The Intelligencer reflected Alburtis's Federalist political leanings, referring to Democrats as "deadly and unprincipled enemies" in its reporting (January 11, 1805). Born in Baltimore in 1778, Alburtis, his second wife, Nancy, and their four children lived most of their lives in Martinsburg and enslaved a number of people, including children. Upon his death, Alburtis's will detailed that the people his family enslaved were to be manumitted upon turning twenty-eight years old; until that time, they were to continue to serve Nancy.

The weekly periodical circulated as the Berkely and Jefferson Intelligencer every Friday in Martinsburg until 1810 when Alburtis changed its title to the Martinsburgh Gazette. Typically four pages in length, each issue of the Intelligencer began with local updates on court cases, estate sales, dry goods shipments, and debtors notices. The paper's next section often took up any international news its publisher deemed noteworthy, including the First Barbary War and the dramatic encounters with pirates that surrounded it; the issue of British impressment of American sailors, including the Chesapeake-Leopold Affair in June 1807; conflict in Europe between Great Britain and France; and the many turns of the Haitian Revolution. Often the Intelligencer covered these events by printing excerpts of public officials' correspondence and Presidential proclamations.

The Intelligencer covered national news, including the Louisiana Purchase, issues of Ohio statehood, and prominent coverage of Aaron Burr's trial for treason in 1807. More mundane national reporting included regular synopses of both the House and Senate's agendas through Alburtis's Federalist lens. These topics involved the issue of slavery in Illinois and Indiana, issues of trade and governance in New Orleans leading up to the Louisiana Purchase, and issues of White settler encounters with Native American nations as settlers seized Native land.

The last pages of each issue of the Intelligencer included local listings of land and farm equipment for sale, apprentice postings, school enrollment announcements, and even brief inclusions of poetry and pithy colloquialisms. These listings also included announcements regarding the sale of enslaved people and provide a comparison in value between people held in bondage as property with other perceived commodities like horses and other livestock. The paper also included ransoms and rewards for stolen livestock and self-manumitted enslaved people along with vivid descriptions of their appearance and character. Taken broadly, the Intelligencer provides researchers a window into some of the ways that local, national, and international politics were reported on in the Early Republic alongside particular details of life, culture, and trade in northeastern West Virginia. In 1810, Alburtis changed the Intelligencer's name to the Martinsburgh Gazette and continued to publish the paper until selling it to Washington Evans in 1822.

Provided by: West Virginia University