The North Carolina Gazette was established by printer James Davis. Davis was a native Virginian and worked as a printer for the colonial assembly. During the time, North Carolina had no printing press and relied on the Virginia Gazette for political and economic news or waited weeks for northern newspapers to arrive. In the late-seventeenth century, North Carolinas ports were relatively isolated as compared to its northern and southern neighbors.
In 1749 the North Carolina legislature determined that the state was in need of a press to print money and establish laws. Printer James Davis was hired and moved to New Bern to serve as head printer of the state. In the same year Davis printed his first work, “The Journal of the House of Burgesses of the Province of North Carolina.” When the North Carolina Gazette was first published by Davis in August 1751 it consisted of neither news headlines nor columns. The paper reported international affairs including arrival and departure schedules of coastal ships. Initially, the paper provided very little state news and consisted mostly of reprinted articles. The paper consisted of many essays, laws, and editorials, with some being approximately four months old. On occasion the paper featured advertisements, merchant goods, legal advertisements, and compensation for the return of slaves.
The North Carolina Gazette continued to expand during the 1760s and on May 27, 1768 the pages were enlarged. One year later, a tropical storm struck. Although records are unclear, more than likely the press was destroyed by flood waters. Because of the scarcity of paper during the Revolutionary War no other newspapers appeared on the market beginning in 1775. In the early 1780s James Davis decided to start over and publish an issue of the North Carolina Gazette, that appeared on August 28, 1783.
Two years later, Davis passed away, and business partner Robert Keith succeeded him and named the paper the Impartial Intelligencer and Weekly General Advertiser. But the paper offered little of state or local news. On September 2,,1784, the last issue was published. Although the Gazette was short lived, the paper served as a catalyst for other newspapers establishment. By the late-eighteenth century, papers were in Raleigh, Hillsborough, and Salisbury.
“North Carolina Gazette.” William S. Powell, ed. Encyclopedia of North Carolina (University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, NC 2006).
"August 1751 - North Carolina's First Newspaper ." www.lib.unc.edu. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Jun 2012. <http://www.lib.unc.edu/ncc/ref/nchistory/aug2004/index.html>.
By Shane Williams, North Carolina History Project
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