Maryland Gazette

Not to be confused with The Gazette (Maryland).
Maryland Gazette
Type Daily newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Founder(s) William Parks, Jonas Green
Founded September 1727 (1727-09)

The Gazette, founded in 1727 as The Maryland Gazette, is one of the oldest newspapers in America. It's modern-day descendant, The Capital, was acquired by The Baltimore Sun Media Group in 2014.[1] Previously, it was owned by the Capital Gazette Communications group, which published The Capital, Bowie Blade-News, Crofton-West County Gazette, and Capital Style Magazine.

The Gazette and their sister publications have a long history, having been composed and printed in numerous locations, all in the Annapolis area, for more than 270 years. The company has moved headquarters seven times, including from 3 Church Circle to 213 West St. in 1948, and then to 2000 Capital Drive in 1987.

18th century

William Parks

The Maryland Gazette was founded in Annapolis in 1727 and published through 1734[2] by William Parks.[3][4] Parks moved to Virginia in 1736.[5]

John Peter Zenger

John Peter Zenger, who learned the trade of a newspaperman as an indentured servant and apprentice printer for the Gazette, later became a New York City editor.[6] His 1735 trial established in American law that printing the truth is not libel or sedition, a key forerunner to the First Amendment to the Constitution and the concept of freedom of the press.[7]

Jonas Green

The Gazette's second publisher was Jonas Green, a former protégé of Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia. The Gazette's early masthead read as follows:

"Annapolis, Printed by Jonas Green at his Printing Office on Charles Street; where all persons may be supplied with this Gazette at twelve shillings, six pence a year, and Advertisements of moderate length are inserted for 5 shillings the First Week and 1 shilling each time thereafter; and long ones in proportion."

Money was sometimes hard to come by, so Green sometimes traded an ad or a subscription for supplies. His wife, Anne Catherine Hoof Green, also helped to make ends meet by selling homemade chocolates at the post office.[8]

The Maryland Gazette and the American Revolution

Maryland Gazette September 5, 1765. A skull and crossbones was displayed where the stamp should have been affixed.

Green, a born troublemaker, hated the Stamp Act, which among other things directly taxed his newspaper. Refusing to pay, he published the Gazette with what was then a blaring headline: "The Maryland Gazette Expiring: In Uncertain Hopes of a Resurrection to Life Again." Green wrote that because of the Stamp Act, the newspaper "will not any longer be published." In the bottom right-hand corner of the page, where the tax stamp should have been placed, there appeared instead a skull and crossbones. Calmer heads persuaded Green to return to publishing as part of the struggle against tyranny, and he later resumed publication under this banner headline: "An Apparition of the late Maryland Gazette, which is not dead, but only sleepeth." Defenders of this newspaper's claim as "the oldest in the nation" say this brief interruption of publication was not a business decision as much as a deliberate political statement by a determined and courageous publisher.[9]

When Green died in 1767, his jobs as editor and publisher were taken over by his wife, Anne Catherine Hoof Green, making her one of the first women to hold either of the top jobs at an American newspaper (preceded by Ann Smith Franklin of Rhode Island). A strong supporter of Colonial rights, she continued her husband's policy of operating an independent newspaper under the nose of the royal governor in Annapolis. Ultimately, she published the newspaper for eight years while raising 14 children. The newspaper stayed in the Green family for 94 years.

Jonas Green's house, where the Gazette was published for many years, still stands on Charles Street in downtown Annapolis, marked by a small historical plaque.

Samuel Chase, described by the Maryland Gazette as "a foul-mouthed and flaming son of discord."

In 1766, the Maryland Gazette was one of the venues for a war of words between a future signer of the Declaration of Independence and several loyalist members of the Annapolis political establishment. In the Maryland Gazette Extraordinary of June 19, 1766, Walter Dulany, George Steuart (1700–1784), John Brice (1705–1766) and others published an article excoriating Samuel Chase, co-founder of the Anne Arundel County chapter of the Sons of Liberty and a leading opponent of the 1765 Stamp Act.[10] The article called Chase "a busy, reckless incendiary, a ringleader of mobs, a foul-mouthed and inflaming son of discord and faction, a common disturber of the public tranquility". Chase responded with an open letter accusing Steuart and the others of "vanity...pride and arrogance", and of being brought to power by "proprietary influence, court favour, and the wealth and influence of the tools and favourites who infest this city."[11]

In 1772, Charles Carroll of Carrollton engaged in a debate conducted through the Maryland Gazette, maintaining the right of the colonies to control their own taxation. Writing in the Gazette under the pseudonym "First Citizen," he became a prominent spokesman against the governor's proclamation increasing legal fees to state officers and Protestant clergy. Opposing Carroll in these written debates and writing as "Antillon" was Daniel Dulany the Younger, a noted lawyer and loyalist politician.[12][13] In these debates, Carroll argued that the government of Maryland had long been the monopoly of four families, the Ogles, the Taskers, the Bladens and the Dulanys, with Dulany taking the contrary view.[13] Eventually word spread of the true identity of the two combatants, and Carroll's fame and notoriety began to grow.[14] Dulany soon resorted to highly personal ad hominem attacks on "First Citizen", and Carroll responded, in statesmanlike fashion, with considerable restraint, arguing that when Antilles engaged in "virulent invective and illiberal abuse, we may fairly presume, that arguments are either wanting, or that ignorance or incapacity know not how to apply them".[14]

19th century

Civil War

During the American Civil War, the sympathies of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County were well established for the South. Nonetheless, the Gazette's publisher, Thomas Wilson, sharply and repeatedly lashed out against the "madness" of dissolving the Union. In the elections of 1860 and 1864, this position nearly destroyed the newspaper.

In 1860, for example, Lincoln received exactly three votes in Anne Arundel County, and only a single one from Annapolis, presumably Wilson's. The paper's stand in support of the Union cost Wilson advertising, as well as legal and printing contracts. It is said the newspaper survived only because Lincoln was a smart politician. In appreciation of Wilson's support, he appointed the publisher as the federal paymaster for the state of Maryland, in effect providing a helpful subsidy.[15]


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