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Spirit of the Age (Raleigh, N.C.)

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570 issues

35.8436867 -78.7851406

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More About This Newspaper


About

Publishing its first issue on June 17, 1849, the Spirit of the Age of Raleigh, North Carolina, was the official organ of the North Carolina chapter of the Sons of Temperance. The newspaper was the second temperance publication started by Alexander Maxwell Gorman (1814-1865). In 1848, Gorman joined with J.B. Whitaker to issue the Family Visiter, but that publication was short-lived, as was the business partnership between Gorman and Whitaker.

A printer by trade, Gorman had worked for the Raleigh Register, and North Carolina Gazette, one of North Carolina’s oldest and most prestigious newspapers. Although he initially focused Spirit of the Age almost exclusively on coverage of the temperance movement, Gorman added reporting on other topics over time. Throughout most of its history, the newspaper bore variations of its early motto “A Family Newspaper–Devoted to Temperance, Morality, Literature, Agriculture, and General Intelligence.”

As it expanded coverage, the Spirit of the Age printed local, state, national, and international news. It also featured short fiction, which proved popular with readers. From 1859 to 1861, Gorman’s wife, Mary E. (“Mollie”) Jordan Gorham, served as the “editress” of the “Ladies’ Department,” news aimed at female readers.

By 1860, the Spirit of the Age claimed the largest circulation of any newspaper in North Carolina. Readers paid an annual subscription rate of one dollar and fifty cents, with a fifty-cent discount for clubs with five or more members. Red ink or pencil markings to the paper signaled readers that their subscription would soon expire.

During the Civil War, the Spirit of the Age devoted significant coverage to the war, featuring at various times such sections as “War News,” “Soldiers’ Department,” and “Letters from our Army.” As with other newspapers, the Spirit of the Age had trouble acquiring newsprint. The October 2, 1861 issue noted that the newspaper had reduced the size of its pages and suggested that readers “lose little or nothing in the amount of reading matter, owing to the exclusion of nearly all advertisements and the size of type used.” The same issue is notable for its lack of the newspaper’s motto. There is no explanation for its disappearance, and it remained absent from the Spirit of the Age for the remainder of the title’s existence.

Gorman’s association with the Spirit of the Age ended in early 1864. On January 20, 1864, John Spelman, editor and publisher of the Daily State Journal in Raleigh announced his newspaper’s sale to Gorman, who, in turn, renamed the newspaper the Daily Confederate and published the first issue in Raleigh on January 26, 1864. Gorman’s name remained on the masthead of Spirit of the Age as publisher through February 1864 with Theophilus Hunter Hill (1836-1901) listed as editor. By June 1864, John G. Williams had purchased Spirit of the Age from Gorman.

The newspaper continued under Williams’s ownership until 1869, when it ceased publication. Another Spirit of the Age began publishing in 1873, but, despite its temperance message, it had no relation to the previous publication.

 

Provided by: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library, Chapel Hill, NC

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