Front page - 1844

On June 18, 2019, LNP celebrated its 225th anniversary. The earliest newspaper to which today’s LNP traces its roots was the Lancaster Journal, first published on June 18, 1794, by William Hamilton and Henry Willcocks from a news office located in a tavern building at the King Street site of the current LNP building.

To celebrate 225 years of Lancaster newspapers, we present this series of 52 front pages from the history of the newspapers which would eventually become LNP. 

Opinion Columns

It seems folks had just as many opinions in 1844 as they do in 2019. In a column titled “The Contrast,” a writer under the nom de plume “N.Y. Plebian” writes to the Lancaster Intelligencer & Journal to decry former Secretary of State and then-presidential candidate Henry Clay’s failure to embrace the Sabbath. Though the writer’s consternation is definitely of a 19th-century nature, the spirit of the argument would not be out of place in LNP’s Opinion section.

“When a party makes loud professions of exclusive morality and pious regard to religious forms and prejudices, as the Federalists always do, it is well that their acts should be placed on record when those acts prove the hypocrisy of their pretensions and the indecency and immorality of their conduct,” begins the impressively long first sentence. The writer recalls an anecdote where former president Andrew Jackson visited New Orleans and refused to participate in a certain ceremony that was to take place on Sunday, unless it was moved to the next day. Compare this to Clay, who was received in New Orleans “by the military with flaunting banners, sounding trumpets and beating drums, and in this style, during the session of church, he was paraded through the streets of that great city.” Apparently, the fanfare was so joyous that a beleaguered clergymen dismissed his congregation. While the qualities people look for in an ideal candidate seem to change with the weather, a common person’s joy in pointing out the moral hypocrisies of politicians has always been in fashion.

The Telegraph

One month after this issue hit newsstands, a former painter would follow his own curiosity all the way to inventing a technology we now use daily. With just a key, a battery, wire and a few poles, Samuel Morse sent the first electric telegraph message in 1844. Before this, Morse lent his name to the invention of Morse code, the assigning of dots and dashes to specific letters of the alphabet to send messages. After this, Congress gave Morse $30,000 (or a little over $1 million, in today’s terms) to develop his process further with a telegraph line between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. With a somewhat prophetic message, Morse kicked off the telegraph line – and in some ways, a technological breakthrough we are still reckoning with some 175 years later – with the phrase “WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT.”