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Publication Details

Loudon free press.

More information about this newspaper title may be available on the source website.

Source: Chronicling America [US Library of Congress]

Country: United States

State: Tennessee

City: Loudon, Tenn.

Issues of this title available in Elephind: 82

Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 328

Earliest Date: 20 October 1852

Latest Date: 14 February 1855


Loudon Free Press

The weekly Loudon Free Press was established in October 1852 by John W. O’Brien and his brother, Samuel. John also served as editor. The paper’s inaugural editorial stated, “So far as we shall conform to a model, we shall aspire to the elevated stand occupied by the National Intelligencer, a true representative of what the American Press should be.” The editorial also asserted the paper’s political position: “Our politics have always been, and will continue to be Whig.”

The O’Brien brothers were experienced printers. Prior to their move to Loudon, John was in partnership with William G. Brownlow at Brownlow’s Knoxville Whig and Independent Journal and the semimonthly, Sons of Temperance. The brothers were part of the O’Brien family from Carter County, East Tennessee (formerly owners of the area’s iron works), and were cousins to Brownlow’s wife, Eliza. The Brownlow/O’Brien partnership came to an end after Brownlow sent John O’Brien to Washington to collect payment for a government printing contract and pay off debts owed by the firm. When Brownlow realized that O’Brien had not paid the debts but kept the money himself, the partnership ceased, and O’Brien moved to Loudon to start his own paper.  The first issue of the Loudon Free Press carried an announcement, dated September 11, 1852: “The undersigned [Brownlow and O’Brien], have mutually agreed to dissolve their Partnership, heretofore existing in the Printing Business at Knoxville.” The announcement also confirmed that Brownlow would now be “the sole proprietor and owner of the Knoxville Whig Office, and all that belongs thereto – he pays all the debts of said office, and claims due the office, are coming to him.”

In 1852, the town of Loudon was growing rapidly. Construction of the railroad between Dalton, Georgia, and Knoxville, Tennessee, was suspended, and temporarily made Loudon the northern terminus. With both the railroad and the steamboat port on the Tennessee River, Loudon (or Blair’s Ferry as it was officially known until 1858) became the ideal location for transferring merchandise from the river to the railroad. The Loudon Free Press made its target audience the businessmen of East Tennessee. In addition to foreign and domestic news, the paper provided “full and impartial quotations of the produce markets of Loudon, Augusta, Savannah, Macon, Charleston, and Nashville, with occasional quotations from other important points.”

The Free Press advocated the benefits of living in Loudon. In addition to editorials in praise of the town’s advantages, each week the paper printed a short piece written by agent James H. Johnston, extoling the town’s “extraordinary inducements to capitalists, merchants, manufacturers, and mechanics […] Loudon should be looked to now as one of the most promising locations for a large and flourishing town.”

The railroad bridge over the Tennessee River opened in 1855 and brought even greater prospects to the town. The Free Press, however, did not prosper and it ceased publication later that year.

Provided by: University of Tennessee