Yazoo County MSGenWeb Articles, Essays and Studies


Articles, Essays and Studies

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An Excerpt Taken from the Library of Congress website

Prior to the Civil War, the Democratic press in Yazoo City was relatively weak. The several short-lived, four-page, weekly Democratic newspapers included the State Rights and Democratic Union (1839) and the longer-running, sometimes financially-troubled Yazoo Democrat (1844-60). Tennessean Ethelbert Barksdale, who after the Civil War became the powerful editor of the state-wide papers, the Daily Clarion (1866-88) and Weekly Clarion (1863-82), began his newspaper career in 1845 as editor of the Yazoo Democrat.

Yazoo City's only Whig newspaper, a four-page weekly, started as the Yazoo City Whig and Political Register (1836?-40), changed to the Yazoo Whig and Political Register (1840-42), and then reverted to the Yazoo City Whig and Political Register (1842-44). In 1844, editor/proprietor, James A. Stevens shortened the name to the Yazoo City Whig (1844-51). New York-born Harriet Prewett continued as editor/owner of the renamed Yazoo City Weekly Whig (1851-55) when her husband died shortly after purchasing the newspaper. Alternate titles were the Yazoo Whig (1840-42, 1851-55) and the Whig (1844-51). In 1855, Prewett changed the name of the newspaper to the Weekly American Banner (1855-60?), also known as the American Banner, reflecting her political shift from the disappearing Whig party to the emerging American party, also known as the Know-Nothings.

In addition to party rhetoric and reprints from like-minded newspapers, the Yazoo City press carried the usual mix of stories, poems, general interest items, legal notices, advertisements, and local news. At various times, both the Banner and the Democrat claimed to be the official journal of Yazoo City. While always endorsing different candidates, their rivalry was less acrimonious than in other Mississippi towns with both Whig and Democrat newspapers. The partisan newspapers focused on contemporary political issues. In the 1830s and 1840s, their editors commented on the national and state banking crisis, with the Democratic Union opposing repayment of bonds for the state-supported Union bank and the Whig supporting repayment. The 1843, the later strongly endorsed the "Whig Bond-Paying" party slate of candidates for state office. In the later 1840s, the Mexican-American War received considerable coverage; for example, the June 12, 1846 issue of the Whig carried an article about the departure of the Yazoo Volunteers for the front. Coverage in the 1850s included the Missouri Compromise, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and other events leading to secession. The Weekly American Banner, in a May 25, 1855 article explaining the paper's name change, reflected the American Party's adoption of nativism when it urged readers to join "in a band of brotherhood to sustain our institutions from Foreign and Popish aggression." The Democrat reflected southern attitudes towards secession stating in a September 11, 1859 article that the "next battle for the Presidency, inasmuch as it presents the possibility of disunion, is repulsive to the contemplation of Southern men."