On June 18, 2019, LNP will celebrate 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.
Setting the scene in 1794
Coming just after Eli Whitney was granted a patent for the cotton gin and before the Whiskey Rebellion, the first issue of the Lancaster Journal was published on June 18, 1794. Following about 20 other newspapers that came and went, the Lancaster Journal was founded by William Hamilton and Henry Willcocks during George Washington’s second term as president. Though the paper has taken many twists and turns in the intervening 225 years, the mission statement at the top of this 1795 front page remains true – “Not too rash – yet not fearful – Open to all parties, but not influenced by any.”
As your 21st-century eyes scan an 18th-century newspaper front page for the first time, two things jump out – the use of the “medial s” and the large number of personal advertisements. This specific style of the letter “s” had its beginnings in the eighth century, and was standard until British type-design pioneer John Bell commissioned a new typeface in the late 1790s. As for the proliferation of front page announcements and advertisements, simply put, these were the most important aspects of early newspapers. Because information of this sort didn’t travel in any other way, it was worth mentioning on the front page that, in this case, Francis Heger would be taking over his father’s butchering business or that George Moore Jr. and William Henry would be opening a “Dry Goods, Groceries, Saddlery, Etc.” store on King Street.
With the aforementioned Hamilton and Willcocks manning the sails, the Lancaster Journal published once a week and was all of four pages. Hamilton’s beginnings in the printing industry were about as auspicious as they come: He began as an apprentice in the Philadelphia print shop of Benjamin Franklin’s grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache, before journeying to Lancaster in 1794.
Sources: LNP archives; pennblog.typepad.com