Virginia Gazette, 1893-1921

Posted on
May 19, 2016
By Anne Johnson - Special Collections Assistant

IMG_0479Williamsburg, Virginia's current local newspaper, The VirginiaGazette, has had various owners and publishers since its initial issue in 1736, plus there were many years when it was not published at all.  The longest publication gap was between 1780 and 1893.
In 1893, Ohio native W.C. Johnston, a recent William and Mary graduate, decided to resurrect the local newspaper and its historical name. He married into the Branch family of Williamsburg and became active in many local affairs. At various times during this publication run, from 1893 to circa 1921, Johnston was owner, publisher, and editor.
IMG_0510In his first editorial, Johnston honors the history of the Virginia Gazette, then clearly states the goals of his newspaper, it's motto "Measures, not men," and promises to remain neutral in local politics. The transcript is below:
Virginia Gazette
Saturday, May 20, 1893
To the Public

The pioneer of the South, the first that ever greeted the eyes of a struggling nation in its infancy; the first that was ever graced by the immortal Declaration of Independence, is rescued once more from the depths of oblivion, and comes before the public asking that consideration due her.  But this is not the Virginia Gazette of yore.  The times have changed, and she endeavors to stand abreast of them.  The questions that were agitated and discussed through her columns are history now, sacred to a nation’s memory.

We shall ever strive, with the help of Him, who doeth all things well, to voice the sentiments that are noblest, truest and best.  If we succeed in righting one wrong, in gaining one victory, or advancing a cause that is just, we shall feel amply repaid for any efforts that we may put forth.

Realizing that a local paper, working for the best interests an advancement of the community, should have as little as possible to do with municipal or county elections, especially in a small town or city, we have resolved to remain neutral in every contest.  Hence our policy, “Independent in local politics.” We shall ever be guided by our motto, “Measures, not men.”  But believing firmly in the principles of Democracy, we shall ever lend our aid to its advancement and perfection, feeble though be our strength.

We shall spare no pains to place before the country the advantages of this section, trusting in our friends for support in all that is worthy, and in the integrity of the people we represent for justice, we commit these columns to your hands.