Western Democrat, Charlotte Newspaper, Now Available on DigitalNC

From the Western Democrat, 1854.

From the Western Democrat, 1854.

The Western Democrat, a Charlotte newspaper, is now online with issues dating from 1853 through 1868.  A weekly paper, it is interesting in that it does not contain much local news or even information which would be recognized as news by modern readers.  The front page includes such stories as “A Clever Anecdote–The Emperor and His Daughter” which is indeed a story as well as reprints from other newspapers.  Generally four pages in length, the last two contain the most local content which is in the form of advertisements.  Ads for “negroes wanted,” “negroes to hire,” and “negroes for sale” are common, such as in the the December 6, 1859 issue. Also frequent are advertisements offering rewards for runaway enslaved people.  On the same page of the March 31, 1854 issue, a $50 reward is offered for the apprehension of a 26-year-old man while a separate ad offers the same amount for the apprehension of a thief who stole fifteen turkeys.

With the start of the Civil War in 1861, the newspaper shifts focus and prints stories almost exclusively related to the war effort.  Lists of North Carolina killed and wounded are included as are descriptions of battles, discussions of the state’s defenses, and reprints of speeches and general orders.

Though lacking in local content, the Western Democrat provides insight into the important news during the 1850s and 1860s and gives the perspective of a Southern town on the Civil War.

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