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The commonwealth. : (Greenwood, Miss.) 1896-1923
Place of publication:
Greenwood, Miss.
Geographic coverage:
  • Greenwood, Leflore, Mississippi  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Commonwealth Pub. Co.
Dates of publication:
  • -v. 27, no. 52 (Dec. 26, 1923).
  • Began in 1896.
  • English
  • Greenwood (Miss.)--Newspapers.
  • Mississippi--Greenwood.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01219300
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Daily editions: Daily commonwealth (Greenwood, Miss.); Greenwood daily commonwealth.
  • Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 18 (Apr. 15, 1897).
  • Editor: <1897> James Kimble Vardaman.
sn 89065008
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The commonwealth. December 17, 1896 , Image 1


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The Commonwealth, The Daily Commonwealth and The Daily commonwealth

Originally known as Williams Landing, the Yazoo River port of Greenwood, Mississippi, was named after Choctaw chief and Mississippi state senator, Greenwood Leflore. Incorporated in April 1845, the town became the seat of newly created Leflore County in 1871. Greenwood was located at the eastern edge of the fertile Yazoo-Mississippi River flood plain known as the Delta, a prime cotton-growing region. Towards the end of the 19th century, the town witnessed commercial and industrial growth due to the establishment of railroads.

The Commonwealth (1896-1923) was a weekly newspaper established in Greenwood by attorney and Mississippi representative (1890-96) James Kimble Vardaman, a staunch Democrat, who had previously served as editor of the Winona Advance (1869-90) and the Greenwood Enterprise (1887-1919). In 1898, Vardaman served in the Spanish American War and entrusted the Commonwealth to his business manager, Henry Throne Crosby, Jr. The paper's June 2, 1898 issue contains Crosby's explanation of Vardaman's absence: "...since our editor has turned soldier, it will be impossible for me to leave...." By the end of 1899, Vardaman was once again running the paper after his second unsuccessful bid for governor. In 1903, he left the Commonwealth to focus on his political campaign and was finally elected as Mississippi's 36th governor (1904-08). Vardaman was known for his support of poor white farmers, government regulation of large corporations, and child labor laws; his opposition to the state convict lease system; and for his extremely racist views about African-Americans. Vardaman ended his political career with one term in the U.S. Senate (1913-19).

James Lee Gillespie, once owner of the Tupelo Ledger (1890-92), and later of the Greenwood Enterprise, bought the Commonwealth in1905. Gillespie ran the journal with his sons Sumter and Gordon. In addition to the weekly, Gillespie published a daily edition entitled the Daily Commonwealth (1916-19), later renamed the Greenwood Daily Commonwealth (1919-26). After James Gillespie's death in 1923, Sumter continued the daily edition, but not the weekly. The daily newspaper is still being published in 2017 as the Greenwood Commonwealth (1976-current).

Similar in content, the eight-page Commonwealth and the four-page Daily Commonwealth covered local and national news, town events, obituaries, marriage notices, advertisements, social callings, and local and state elections. With the advent of railroads in the area, farmers relied on trains to ship cotton instead of the Yazoo River. Plentiful advertisements for cotton seeds, cotton merchants, and freight shipment schedules underscore the importance of the crop and the new method of transporting it to market.

The Greenwood Daily Commonwealth covered the career of its founder, James Kimble Vardaman. It also reported on international news such as the "Great War," later called World War I, and its aftermath. Local impact of this global event was exemplified in an April 27, 1921 article detailing the re-interment in Greenwood of James Gillespie's oldest son, Gordon, who was killed in France in 1918. In the 1920s, Magnus Kettner's syndicated political cartoons were carried in the Commonwealth.

Provided by: Mississippi Department of Archives and History