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The Rodney telegraph. : (Rodney, Miss.) 1838-1840
Place of publication:
Rodney, Miss.
Geographic coverage:
  • Rodney, Jefferson, Mississippi  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Thomas Brown
Dates of publication:
  • Ceased in 1840.
  • Vol. 1, [no. 32] (Dec. 22, 1838)-
  • English
  • Mississippi--Rodney.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01261879
  • Rodney (Miss.)--Newspapers.
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
sn 87065543
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The Rodney telegraph. January 19, 1839 , Image 1


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Southern Telegraph and The Rodney Telegraph

Created in 1799 and the second oldest county in the Mississippi territory, Jefferson County (originally named Pickering) is located in southwest Mississippi. From the loess bluffs along the Mississippi River to the light pine soil in the east, cotton plantations, many with large African-American slave populations, predominated. An early settlement, first known as Petit Gulf and renamed Rodney in 1828, became the county's commercial, trading, and social center and a major Mississippi River port between St. Louis and New Orleans in its heyday in the 1840s and 50s. Now several miles inland due to the river's westward migration in the 1870s, Rodney is virtually a ghost town.

One of Mississippi's earliest newspapers, the four-page weekly Southern Telegraph (1834-38), published by the Thomas B. Palmer Company, was a Whig organ. While there was no prospectus, the February 5, 1836 issue made clear the paper's political stance: "We have and shall advocate the claims of [Whig] Hugh L. White, of Tennessee, for the Presidency, because we are desirous to defeat the candidate of incendiaries, and the former champion of anti-slavery fanatics, Martin Van Buren . . . ." Between November 1837 and April 1838, when John M. Duffield was publisher, the newspaper was known as the Rodney Standard (1837-38); the name reverted to the Southern Telegraph when Thomas Brown and partner took over the paper. The Southern Telegraph and Rodney Standard motto "He that will not reason, is a bigot; he that cannot, is a fool; and he that dare not, is a slave," appeared in the front page masthead. When Brown became sole publisher, the title changed to the Rodney Telegraph (1838-40) and the motto became the "Union of the Whigs for the sake of the Union." In the 1840 presidential election, the Rodney Telegraph supported the successful Whig candidate, William Henry Harrison. The title changed one last time to the Jefferson Whig (1840-41) when Brown moved the operation 20 miles southeast to Fayette, Mississippi.

The majority of content in the Telegraph run consisted of political news:  editorials promoting Whig candidates, Congressional proceedings, state legislative acts, election results, and addresses and letters from politicians. An example is the inaugural address of Governor Charles Lynch to the state legislature, printed in the January 22 and 29, 1836 issues of the Southern Telegraph, in which he commented on the needs of the state: "The general revision of a code of laws- the laying off of the country lately acquired from the Chickasaws into counties- the increase of banking capital- the disorganized state of the militia- provisions for a school system-[and] for a penitentiary . . . ." A frequent topic of national news was Texas's battle for independence from Mexico, as seen in the May 13, 1836 issue which announced the defeat and capture of General Santa Anna ending the war. In addition to covering events like steamboat accidents and Whig rallies, posting for meeting announcements for the Tippecanoe Club and the Temperance Society, and reporting on nearby Presbyterian school Oakland College, local news included notices about some of the many notable Mississippians from Jefferson County, such as the August 27, 1840 obituary and the September 12, 1840 resolution honoring state military hero and politician General Thomas Hinds. Other content included stories, poems, and general interest news, followed by newspaper prospectuses, advertisements, and legal notices.

Provided by: Mississippi Department of Archives and History