Joseph Edward Robinson (1858-1931) and Luther Melancthan Nash (1861-1931) launched the Goldsboro Weekly Argus and its counterpart the Goldsboro Daily Argus in 1885. Robinson, a lawyer and lifelong newspaperman, had been the city editor of the Goldsboro Messenger for two years prior and served as editor of the Argus. Nash, a printer, held the position of publisher.
By some accounts, Charles Brantley Aycock (1859-1912), a Goldsboro lawyer and governor of North Carolina from 1901 to 1905, and William Clement Munroe (1849-1913), also a Goldsboro lawyer, were early partners in the Argus, but their names are not included in the newspapers’ mastheads.
Robinson’s partnership with Nash, Aycock, and Munroe was short-lived. By 1887, he is listed as the newspapers’ sole editor and publisher.
The Weekly Argus published on Saturday, and the Daily Argus, in its early years, published every morning except Monday. The Daily Argus was the only daily newspaper in Goldsboro and the surrounding Wayne County until 1892. There was significant overlap between the daily and weekly editions of the Argus with the weekly republishing articles from the daily edition.
Robinson supported Goldsboro’s economic growth, writing on April 14, 1892 that the paper “has kept itself always in the watch tower to hail every development and aid every enterprise in the great work of moving a community forward.” As a trustee of the Goldsboro Public Library, Robinson included minutes of library meetings, notices held there, and library news. A supporter of temperance, Robinson refused advertisements for Goldsboro’s saloons. For many readers, Robinson and the Argus were synonymous. Upon Robinson’s death on March 18, 1931, the Greensboro Daily News observed “the paper which he long ran was not primarily the Argus; it was Colonel Robinson and recognized as such.”
Robinson also used the pages of the Weekly Argus to promote the state and national Democratic parties. As Aycock began his political rise in the late 1880s, Robinson provided glowing coverage of his former business partner. Writing in the Weekly Argus on November 3, 1897, Robinson described Aycock as “the idol of the whole people of our state … ” Like Aycock and other top North Carolina Democrats, Robinson held white supremacist views and promoted them in the Argus. Before the state elections in fall 1898, the Argus cautioned readers against voting for Republican candidates. “North Carolina, under Republican rule, not only does not seek to provide against negro domination, but actually invites it,” Robinson wrote in the Weekly Argus on September 1, 1898.
With Aycock’s election as governor in 1900, Robinson wrote on the front page of the August 9, 1900 Weekly Argus that “our prophecy is fulfilled and our hopes have been realized.” In return for his support of Aycock, Robinson was appointed to the new governor’s personal staff where he received the rank of colonel.
The Weekly Argus went through several changes during its publication history—at one point changing to the Goldsboro Semi-Weekly Argus. The Daily Argus advertised subscriptions for the Goldsboro Weekly Argus until March 1916, suggesting the weekly edition may have ceased publication around that time.
Robinson retired as editor of the Daily Argus in 1928. The next year, Talbot Patrick, Robinson’s replacement, bought the Daily Argus and its competitor, the Goldsboro News. In September 1929, Patrick merged the two titles to form the Goldsboro News-Argus, and served as its editor and general manager.