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Country: United States
City: Lehighton, Pa.
Issues of this title available in Elephind: 1,038
Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 4,174
Earliest Date: 22 November 1873
Latest Date: 18 November 1893
The first white settlement in what became Carbon County was a Moravian mission to the Lenni Lenape Indians in 1745, beside the Lehigh River. The site became known as Lehighton in 1794, and waterpower from the river supported many industries, including foundries, textile mills, and railroad shops. The Carbon Advocate was the second newspaper in Lehighton (the Lehighton Weekly News ran from January 1872 to fall 1873), publishing its first issue on November 23, 1872. The founding editor and publisher of the Advocate was H.V. (Harry Vernon) Morthimer (1826-1904), a Scottish immigrant who began his newspaper career under Horace Greeley at the New York Tribune. Morthimer served with Pennsylvania troops in the Civil War, afterward settling in Mauch Chunk, the county seat, and then in Lehighton. Morthimer fathered thirteen offspring, several of whom eventually worked at the Advocate: George W., associate editor; William, a compositor; and H.V. Jr., who was editor by the late 1880s and who oversaw the newspaper until its sale in 1902.
The Advocate was a weekly, published on Saturday, and proud of being “an independent truth-teller of transpiring events,” with no declared political party affiliation. The newspaper’s nameplate carried the motto: “Independent – Live and Let Live.” The Advocate supported temperance and opposed perceived vices including smoking and pool-playing. It was also deeply interested in local labor and economic matters. The Advocate’s coverage of strikes and their effects on families and the problems of an economy heavily dependent on a few large industries (railroads and coal) offers a compelling view of the turbulent history of this anthracite mining region during the 19th century. Labor unrest in Pennsylvania began to flare up during the Civil War, escalating in the 1870s and 1880s with violent strikes and what the 1940 book, Pennsylvania, Guide to the Keystone State, called “sanguinary activities” involving organized labor. The Advocate covered one of the bloodiest activities in Pennsylvania labor history: the coal patch murders attributed to the secret organization known as the Molly Maguires. Twenty men who were considered part of the Molly Maguires were tried and convicted of murder in 1876 and subsequently hanged. A reporter from the Advocate was present and described their executions (the first in Carbon County) in grisly detail in the June 23, 1877 edition of the paper.
The Advocate perennially boasted that its subscription price of $1.00 per year made it the “cheapest and best family newspaper in the anthracite coal regions.” Originally four pages long with six columns per page, the Advocate went to eight columns in November 1878 and nine columns in November 1891. Circulation statistics are not available for the entire run of the Advocate, but between 1873 and 1900 it averaged about 960 paid readers. The newspaper was sold in 1902 to local attorney Philip M. Graul and assumed a Democratic stance. The Carbon Advocate ceased publication in 1924.
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