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Publication Details

The Charleston advocate.

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

Source: Chronicling America [US Library of Congress]

Country: United States

State: South Carolina

City: Charleston, S.C.

Issues of this title available in Elephind: 25

Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 105

Earliest Date: 23 February 1867

Latest Date: 5 December 1868


Charleston Advocate

The weekly Charleston Advocate (1867-68) was one of a number of short-lived newspapers from the predominantly black Low Country region of South Carolina in the Reconstruction era (1865-77). Like many newspapers published for an African American audience, the Advocate faced a number of obstacles, including limited funds, opposition from local whites, and a low circulation due to high illiteracy rates among African Americans, most of whom were former slaves. Although it lasted only a year, the Advocate captured the hopes and frustrations of African Americans and reformers in the South in the years immediately following the end of the Civil War.

Two Methodist clergymen, Timothy Willard Lewis and Alonzo Webster, established the Charleston Advocate with financial support from Boston-based philanthropist Lee Claflin and his son, Massachusetts Governor William Claflin. Lewis and Webster both were Northerners. Webster had previously published the Vermont Christian Messenger ; Lewis had served as a missionary to the freedmen on the Sea Islands. The first issue of the Advocate appeared on Saturday, February 16, 1867. At its masthead appeared the golden rule: “As yet would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them.” Webster served as editor, and Lewis and Benjamin Franklin Randolph, a former chaplain to the United States 26th Colored Infantry Regiment, served as associate editors.

The Advocate combined international and national news, domestic advice, marriage and obituary notices, and news of the South Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and South Carolina Republican Party. Notices of the activities of the Baker Biblical Institute in Charleston (Webster and Lewis taught there) were also prominently featured in the Advocate’s pages. Its editors defended so-called scalawags and carpetbaggers and chastised local Democrat newspapers, the Charleston Mercury and the Columbia Daily Phoenix, and the national Republican Party alike for their indifference to the needs of black Southerners.

On October 16, 1868, three white gunmen assassinated Benjamin Randolph, who had recently been elected South Carolina State Senator, in broad daylight in Abbeville County. The Advocate ran a number of memorials to Randolph, transferred its subscription lists to the Atlanta Methodist Advocate, and folded shortly thereafter. Timothy Lewis and Alonzo Webster went on to establish Claflin University, a historically African American Methodist college in Orangeburg, South Carolina, in 1869. In doing so, they continued to promote the ideas of racial equality and opportunity they had articulated in the Advocate.

Provided by: University of South Carolina; Columbia, SC