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Country: United States
City: Clarksville, Tenn.
Issues of this title available in Elephind: 43
Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 172
Earliest Date: 25 April 1856
Latest Date: 23 October 1857
The Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle, first published as the Weekly Chronicle, claims to be the longest continuously published newspaper in Tennessee. Some sources maintain that the paper was established in 1808. However, the earliest extant copies date from 1818, with volume numbers which suggest it began in 1815. In its earliest days, the newspaper reflected and boosted the growth of the Cumberland River town of Clarksville, then a center for transportation, agriculture, and marketing. The Cumberland River brought steamboat traffic, and by the 1850s railroads also spurred commerce. The early history of the paper is not well documented, but it is believed that it was established by Francis Richardson and later owned by Ewing P. McGinty. When McGinty left to edit the Nashville True Whig in 1849, Robert Warner Thomas took over as publisher and editor of the Chronicle. Highly respected by his peers, Thomas was considered the ablest political editor in Tennessee; his editorials were often printed in other newspapers of the time. In the 1850s and 1860s, the paper was variously titled the Clarksville Weekly Chronicle, the Weekly Clarksville Chronicle, the Clarksville Chronicle, and again the Clarksville Weekly Chronicle. By the late 1860s, the paper was again named the Clarksville Chronicle. Between 1873 and 1890, it was called the Clarksville Weekly Chronicle. The owners and editorial staff of the Chronicle changed little during the early years. In 1857, Thomas sold the paper to J. Sterling Neblett and James A. Grant, but stayed on as the senior political editor until his death in 1876.
Although its publishers and staff remained constant, like many Tennesseans, the paper changed its opinion on secession during the years preceding the Civil War. In 1858, the Clarksville Chronicle opposed the existence and extension of slavery in territories of the United States and advocated the right of citizens in the territories to frame their own constitutions. Over the next two years, Thomas’ editorials supported compromise on the issue of slavery in an attempt to prevent states from seceding, and in 1860, the paper supported former Whig John Bell as the Constitutional Union Party’s candidate for president. On January 4, 1861, Thomas--“a staunch old line Whig and Union man”--took a firm stand against secession: “Separate secession is Southern disunion, and the State that adopts it not only abandons all its rights in the Union, but betrays the States to which it is bound by community of interests and identity of institutions.” However, following the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in April, the Clarksville Chronicle declared that Southern states had a right to secede, and was soon urging secession. By June, the paper fully supported Governor Isham G. Harris when he led Tennessee out of the Union: “Call it revolution, rebellion, secession, insurrection or by any other name, and the fact remains the same. Tennessee is out of the old Union, and, what is more, intends to stay out.”
Following the fall of Fort Donelson in February 1862, publication of the Clarksville Chronicle was suspended and did not resume until July 1865. The paper remained in the hands of Grant and Neblett until 1878, when poor health forced Grant to sell his share to William P. Titus. Titus became sole owner in 1885 when Neblett also relinquished his share due to poor health. A daily edition of the Chronicle began in 1886, under the name the Clarksville Evening Chronicle. (Two special daily editions had been printed in November 1884 to celebrate the election of Grover Cleveland as president.) In 1890, the paper merged with the Clarksville Daily Tobacco Leaf to form the Clarksville Evening Tobacco Leaf-Chronicle, of which today’s Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle is a direct descendant.
Provided by: University of Tennessee