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Sword and shield. : (Clinton, Miss.) 1885-1888
Place of publication:
Clinton, Miss.
Geographic coverage:
  • Clinton, Hinds, Mississippi  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
  • Jackson, Hinds, Mississippi  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
R.D. Gambrell
Dates of publication:
  • Began in 1885; ceased with Jan. 28, 1888 issue.
  • English
  • Clinton (Miss.)--Newspapers.
  • Mississippi--Clinton.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01219460
  • Mississippi.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01207034
  • Prohibition--Mississippi--Newspapers.
  • Prohibition.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01078761
  • Temperance--Mississippi--Newspapers.
  • Temperance.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01147309
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Vol. 3, no. 5 (Feb. 7, 1885).
  • Published in Jackson, Miss. after Dec. 12, 1885.
  • The masthead contains the words "justice" and "protection."
sn 87065018
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Sword and shield. February 7, 1885 , Image 1


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Sword and Shield

Founded in 1883 in Clinton, Mississippi, the Argus (1883-84) was published by Dr. Wilson Alexander Hurt of Winona. In 1885, Hurt sold the paper to 20-year-old Roderick Duhl Gambrell. A resident of the state capitol, Jackson, Gambrell changed the name of the paper to the Sword and Shield. An ardent prohibitionist, Gambrell published it as a temperance journal. Gambrell's view of liquor as a source of evil from which others must be shielded was reflected in the paper's new motto: "Justice and protection. Whatever concerns the people interests us." In the March 7, 1885 issue, Gambrell made it known to his readers that no one was safe from being exposed as corrupt: "…if [any man] gives aid or comfort to the liquor traffic, we intend that the facts shall be known."

The Sword and Shield published articles that highlighted tragedies resulting from the consumption of liquor, prohibition petitions, news and activities of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and snippets from other temperance papers. In many of his editorials, Gambrell argued that local liquor profits did not benefit towns as many anti-prohibitionists claimed. Gambrell displayed great temerity, calling out prominent citizens of Jackson suspected of supporting the sale of alcohol. True to his word, Gambrell went after a minister, who was also a physician, who refused to sign a prohibition petition; the minister's response appeared on the front page of the February 17, 1885 issue of the Sword and Shield.

While Prohibition was the focus of the Sword and Shield, the newspaper also covered political corruption, a growing concern in Mississippi, as evident in the convict lease system. After the Civil War, there was a demand to repair infrastructure such as railroads; it was thought that convicts would serve well as laborers for these projects. The state leased convicts out to private contractors who were officially responsible for their care. However, many convict laborers were overworked, underfed, and inadequately clothed. Because the Black Code law required freedmen to find employment or be jailed, many of the leased prisoners were African Americans. In the Sword and Shield, Gambrell repeatedly accused Governor Robert Lowry of leasing convicts to his friends with little or no compensation to the state. From 1886 to 1887, Gambrell published articles attacking state political leaders guilty of using convicts for private projects.

On May 5, 1887, Gambrell was shot and killed by Hinds County State Senator Jones Stewart Hamilton (1884-88). Formerly the part owner of the state-wide Clarion, Hamilton was running for reelection and had been repeatedly accused by Gambrell of abusing the convict lease system. The May 7, 1887 issue of the Sword and Shield gave an account of the shooting and stated that "The paper will continue . . . as though no murderous attempts had been made to crush it out of existence." The last known issue of the Sword and Shield was published on January 28, 1888.

Provided by: Mississippi Department of Archives and History