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Country: United States
State: South Carolina
City: Edgefield, S.C.
Issues of this title available in Elephind: 3,193
Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 16,485
Earliest Date: 18 February 1836
Latest Date: 20 December 1922
The weekly Edgefield Advertiser (1836-present) holds the distinction of being the oldest continuously running newspaper in South Carolina. For much of its existence, the Advertiser has served as a barometer of the influence of agrarian elites on government and society in South Carolina. Its editors have at times vigorously defended some of the most divisive issues in this nation’s history--nullification, secession, segregation, slavery, and states’ rights--as have many Edgefield politicians, including Preston Smith Brooks, Martin Witherspoon Gary, Benjamin “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman, and in the 20th century, United States Senator Strom Thurmond. The Edgefield Advertiser has influenced the tenor of the discussion of issues in South Carolina for almost two centuries.
Throughout the 19th century, Edgefield District was one of the major cotton-producing areas in South Carolina. The plantation economy shaped society, with slaves comprising a majority of the area’s inhabitants and a few families controlling much of the wealth. Perhaps unsurprisingly, no Republican newspapers, either white or African American-owned, sprang up in Edgefield during the Reconstruction era (1865-77). In 1868, Edgefield became a county (later partitioned into Aiken, Greenwood, McCormick, and Saluda Counties). In 1876, Edgefield’s white leaders enacted the “Edgefield Plan” to disfranchise African Americans and reestablish white Democratic control over the state through intimidation and violence, culminating in race riots in the towns of Ellenton and Hamburg in Aiken County in July and September. Other significant events included the establishment of railroad towns like Johnston and Ridge Spring in the 1870s and 1880s and the growth of the textile industry at the turn of the century.
The Edgefield Advertiser began as the Edgefield Carolinian, a weekly newspaper published every Saturday out of the Edgefield court house. In early 1836, proprietor James Parsons Carroll sold the Carolinian to Maximilian LaBorde and James Jones, who promptly changed the name to the Edgefield Advertiser. The first issue appeared on Thursday, February 11, 1836. For decades, the Advertiser was recognized as the biggest newspaper in western f South Carolina. Circulation rates hovered at around 1,200 throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Interestingly, the Advertiser never had to contend with many local competitors. Between 1860 and 1922, only seven newspapers were started; of these, only the Edgefield Chronicle, a weekly Democratic paper which ran from 1881 through 1925, provided any serious competition.
The Edgefield Advertiser is still independently owned; it has become a family enterprise. Publisher Suzanne Mims Derrick is the daughter of former editor William Walton Mims, himself the son of Julian Landrum Mims, who edited the Advertiser for three decades. Julian Mims was in turn the son-in-law of Thomas John Adams, who edited and published the paper in the late19th century. The paper exists, however, in a much diminished capacity. As the pulse of economic and political power in South Carolina has shifted from rural to urban areas, the Advertiser, like the agrarian elites it has historically represented, has seen its influence wane.
Provided by: University of South Carolina; Columbia, SC