National Gazette

National Gazette

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The National Gazette was a Democratic-Republican partisan newspaper
History of American newspapers
The history of American newspapers goes back to the 17th century with the publication of the first colonial newspapers.-Colonial period:-The New England Courant:...

 that was first published on October 31, 1791. It was edited and published semiweekly by poet
Poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

 and printer
Printer (publisher)
In publishing, printers are both companies providing printing services and individuals who directly operate printing presses. With the invention of the moveable type printing press by Johannes Gutenberg around 1450, printing—and printers—proliferated throughout Europe.Today, printers are found...

 Philip Freneau until October 23, 1793.

The National Gazette was founded at the urging of Republican
Democratic-Republican Party (United States)
The Democratic-Republican Party or Republican Party was an American political party founded in the early 1790s by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Political scientists use the former name, while historians prefer the latter one; contemporaries generally called the party the "Republicans", along...

 leaders James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 and Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 in order to counter the influence of the rival Federalist newspaper, the Gazette of the United States
Gazette of the United States
The Gazette of the United States was an early American partisan newspaper first issued on April 15, 1789, as a biweekly publication friendly to the administration of George Washington, and to the policies and members of the emerging Federalist Party...

. Not unlike other papers of the era, the National Gazette centered around its fervent political content. The Gazette's political content was often written pseudonymously, and was directed against the Federalist Party
Federalist Party (United States)
The Federalist Party was the first American political party, from the early 1790s to 1816, the era of the First Party System, with remnants lasting into the 1820s. The Federalists controlled the federal government until 1801...

. Many prominent Republicans contributed articles, often pseudonymously, including Madison and Jefferson.

The Gazette is unique among early American partisan newspapers
History of American newspapers
The history of American newspapers goes back to the 17th century with the publication of the first colonial newspapers.-Colonial period:-The New England Courant:...

 for being substantially supported by a major player within a sitting Administration (then Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 Thomas Jefferson) while simultaneously attacking that Administration's own policies. Jefferson enticed Freneau to come to Philadelphia to edit the Gazette by hiring him as a translator at the United States Department of State
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

 for an annual salary of $250. Federalist writers, including Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

, attacked this as a conflict of interest. Hamilton and other Federalists also financially supported their own partisan newspaper, the Gazette of the United States, although their publication did not attack Washington and his policies, but praised them effusively.

Freneau's Gazette spent much of its time criticizing the policies of the Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 Administration. For example, the paper described Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

's financial policies in 1792 as "numerous evils...pregnant with every mischief," and described George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

's sixty-first birthday celebration as "a forerunner of other monarch
Monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

ical vices," The Gazette's strident polemics and screeds against the Washington administration led President Washington to despise the Gazette, and to refer to its editor pejoratively as "that Rascal Freneau."

The National Gazette unofficially stopped publishing in October 1793, two years after its establishment, citing "a considerable quantity of new and elegant printing types from Europe" to be obtained, but it is believed that the outbreak of yellow fever
Yellow fever
Yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic disease. The virus is a 40 to 50 nm enveloped RNA virus with positive sense of the Flaviviridae family....

 in Philadelphia combined with dwindling subscriptions contributed to the paper's demise. Jefferson would later resign as Secretary of State, ending Freneau's main source of income aside from the paper.

Further reading

  • Jeffrey L. Pasley. The Two National "Gazettes": Newspapers and the Embodiment of American Political Parties. Early American Literature, Vol. 35, No. 1 (2000), pp. 51–86