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Country: United States
City: Woodstock, Vt.
Issues of this title available in Elephind: 49
Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 196
Earliest Date: 16 May 1844
Latest Date: 24 April 1845
A group from Woodstock, Vermont, who hoped for a Democratic victory in the 1840 presidential election started the Spirit of the Age to campaign for the incumbent, Martin Van Buren. Although Van Buren lost the election, for 73 years theAge served as “a strong opposition journal, constantly alive to the duty of prodding the party in power,” according to the Burlington Weekly Free Press. With support from Vermont’s Democratic Party, thefour-page weekly maintained a small but consistent base of faithful subscribers in Windsor County. From the 1870s through the early 1900s, the four-page weekly paper expanded its circulation to nearby counties with the Orange County Democrat, issued from West Randolph, and the Democrat and Courier, issued from Rutland.
The strong personalities of the five men who served as the Age’s publishers and editors were largely responsible for its longevity as a minority opposition paper. Charles G. Eastman ran the paper from 1840 to 1845, when he became the editor of the Vermont Patriot in Montpelier. Eastman changed the paper’s name to Woodstock Age in 1844, but under his successor, Edgar A. Kimball, the paper again appeared as Spirit of the Age. When Kimball left to fight in the Mexican War in 1847, Edward M. Brown took over as editor and publisher. Brown operated the paper until 1860, when he moved to Montpelier to operate the Vermont Patriot after Charles Eastman’s death. William D. McMaster directed the paper for almost half of its existence, from 1860 to 1894. Edward C. Dana was the owner and publisher from 1894 to 1913, when he started a 16-page publication, the Elm Tree Monthly and Spirit of the Age.
During the early years, the columns of the Spirit of the Age were mostly devoted to local, state, and national political issues, although the editors also included fiction and poetry, news, and miscellany. Editors Eastman and Kimball were noted for their partisan rhetoric. When Kimball left the paper, for example, he urged subscribers to help the paper fight the opposition’s “black flood of federalism and treason.” The Age included articles and editorials on contested issues such as temperance, educational reform, slavery, and the fate of the union. While editors Brown and McMaster supported Northern efforts to preserve the Union and reported on the progress of the Civil War, numerous articles and editorials indicate that they, and perhaps some of their readers, did not support emancipation or equality of the races. McMaster, active in Democratic politics, made the Age a political power in the region. By the end of the 19th century, local news and personal announcements from Woodstock and other Windsor county towns and villages filled its pages. When Edward Dana stopped publishing the Spirit of the Age to focus on the Elm Tree Press, he memorialized it as “a paper of individuality” that maintained “the courage of its convictions.”
Provided by: University of Vermont