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Publication Name:

The Missouri Gazette

Years in print:

1808-1809, 1812-1814, 1815-1818


The region’s first newspaper was founded and edited by Joseph Charless, “Printer to the Territory,” on July 12, 1808. While Charless had originally decided to call it the Missouri Gazette and Louisiana Advertiser as noted in the prospectus shown below, Missouri Gazette was adopted as the first official name of the publication. The name of the paper was changed to the Louisiana Gazette in honor of the Louisiana Purchase. It was renamed Missouri Gazette and Illinois Advertiser in 1814, with the name reverting to The Missouri Gazette in 1815. The paper was sold to James C. Cummins in 1820. At least one reference says the paper’s name was changed to the Missouri Gazette and Public Advertiser in 1818, and then to the Missouri Republican in 1822.

The oldest newspaper in St. Louis was published in the beginning at an expense of about $20 per week. It was called The Missouri Gazette and was a small weekly paper edited and owned by Joseph Charless, the first number appearing July 12, 1808. The printing office was on Main Street south of Elm Street. The subscription price was $3 per annum. In those days a fortnight frequently intervened in the receipt of the Eastern mail, which was about six weeks in transit. The paper was printed on a "Ramage" press, a wooden concern with a stone bed and iron framed platen. Ink was applied to the type by balls, after taking it from a stand nearby, and going over the printing surface with a series of "pats." In this way it required fully half a day to print the small edition, or rather the two inside pages, for only one side could be printed at a time...Mr. Charless could, by dint of persistence, probably "set up" (in printers' parlance) a column and a half or two columns per day of his diminutive Gazette.
(From Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri edited by Howard Conrad, 1901.)

Missouri Gazette Prospectus
It is self evident that in every country where the rays of the Press is not clouded by despotic power, that the people have arrived to the highest grade of civilization, there science holds her head erect, and bids her sons to call into action those talents which lie in a good soil inviting cultivation. The inviolation of the Press is co-existent with the liberties of the people, they live or die together, it is the vestal fire upon the preservation of which , the fate of nations depends; and the most pure hands officiating for the whole community, should be incessantly employed in keeping it alive.
It is now proposed to establish a Weekly Newspaper, to be published by subscription in St. Louis, to be called the MISSOURI GAZETTE AND LOUISIANA ADVERTISER BY JOSEPH CHARLESS
For the reasons above stated, we conceive it unnecessary to offer anything like professions to the public, but rather let the columns of the GAZETTE speak for themselves, and the print to live or die by the character it may acquire, but its intended Patrons have a right to be acquainted with the grounds upon which their approbation is solicited.
To extinguish party animosities and foster a cordial union, among the people on the basis of toleration and equal government. To impress upon the mind, that next to the love of GOD, the love of our COUNTRY should be paramount in the human breast; to advocate that cause which placed Jefferson at the head of the magistracy, and in fine to infuse and keep alive those principles which the test of experience has so evidently portrayed its merits, to these ends shall the labours of the Gazette be directed.
No endeavors nor expense shall be spared in procuring the earliest Foreign Intelligence, which shall be impartially given, and a particular attention paid to the detail of domestic occurrences, with extracts from the proceeding of the state and national legislature – To diversify scenes, we shall glean whatever may be most instructive and amusing in Belles Letters with historical and Poetical extracts – men of genius are invited to send their productions to the Gazette, which will be open for fair discussion on public subjects – it will disdain to direct its flights at smaller game – scurrility and defamation can never be admitted as auxiliaries – privately character is one of the possessions of civil society which ought to be held sacred; to follow a man into the circle of private life, would be a very unfair and licentious act; therefore, the editor will invariably exclude any and every piece which might lead to disturb our public officers, in the honest discharge of their duty, or the peaceful walk of the private citizen.
Les anciens Habitans de la Louisiana, sont informe respectueusement par L’Imprimeur du Prospectus de la Gazette du Missouri qu’il se propose de reserver trois colomnes de son papier, pour publier en francais les Nouvelles localles et Etrangeres; les Loix du Territoire, et des Etats  Unis de L’Amerique, aussi bien que tous les Evenements qui demande publicite.
Le Prix est trois Gourdes per annum, et la Gazette sera distribuee un fois par Semaine.

I. The Gazette will be published once a week on handsome Type and Paper, the day of publication will be regulated by the arrival of the Mail; during the session of Congress, should their proceedings be particularly interesting, a supplementary sheet shall occasionally be issued.
II. Terms of payment will be Three Dollars payable in advance, or Four Dollars in Country Produce. Advertisements not exceeding a square will be inserted one week for one dollar, and for every continuance Fifty Cents, those of a greater length in proportion.
III. The first number of the Gazette will appear as soon as possible, the Types being ready at Louisville, Ky., and the press expected in the course of a month from Pennsylvania. The intended editor pledges his reputation, that there will be no unnecessary delay.
(Excerpted from Missouri Newspapers by William H. Taft, University of Missouri Press 1964).


Let us first look at a copy of the “Missouri Gazette, Volume 1 Number 3, issued Tuesday, July 26, 1808, and printed by Joseph Charless at St. Louis, Louisiana Territory.” After two pages of foreign news, three months old, from London and Paris, about the warlike maneuvers of various navies and the effect of our own Embargo Act, we come to some local news.

“At a special court of Oyer and Terminer held at the Court House of this town on Saturday, two Iowa Indians who were committed to prison some time ago for murder were tried and found guilty, and will be sentenced to death. The trial of the Saukee who killed the white man at Portage de Sioux will be held this day.”

“At the election of trustees for the Town of St. Louis, the following gentlemen were chosen, Auguste Chouteau, Edward Hempstead, Bernard Pratte, Pierre Chouteau, and Alexander McNair.”

“The Osages have committed so many outrages on the frontier that the Government has permitted the Delawares, Shawnees and Kickapoos to go to war with them, bringing 5000 warriors into the plains. The Osages and Pawnees fight on horseback and there is no doubt of a warm and important campaign.”

“The anniversary of American Independence was celebrated at the village of Harrison, Indiana Territory. Dinner began at three o’clock.” Fourteen set toasts were proposed and drunk, followed by six more extra toasts proposed by volunteers. It is not stated how long it took to consume these twenty drinks, but it is said that “the utmost hilarity and urbanity prevailed.” One of the toasts was to “The Ladies, May they be prudent maids, loving wives, tender mothers, and exemplary matrons.”

Jeremiah Connor, Auctioneer, announced that he would sell, at the home of Mrs. Labadie, various articles, including “Best Cognac Brandy three years old, Dry Goods, Chewing Tobacco, etc.”

Rufus Easton, Post Master, published a list of letters remaining undelivered at the St. Louis Post Office.

There not being enough advertisements to occupy all of the last column, we read that “A variety of school books is for sale at this office. Blanks printed on the shortest notice.”
(From The St. Louis Story by McCune Gill, 1952)

Exerpt from Joseph Dacus and James William Buel (1878)

...The Republican has chronicled the events of the times since St. Louis was an insignificant village of log and frame houses, containing a population of little more than one thousand inhabitants. Within the onderous tomes of files preserved in the vaults of that office since the first issue of the first number of the Missouri Gazette, in July, 1808, until the present time, is preserved the history of St. Louis and of the West, since very nearly the date of the occupation of the Territory of Upper Louisiana by the Government of the United States. At the date of the commencement of the publication, St. Louis was in Louisiana, that is to say, the territory now embraced within the limits of the State of Missouri constituted a county in the Territory of Louisiana. The name of the paper was changed in 1809 to Louisiana Gazette. In 1818 the name was changed back to Missouri Gazette.

The first printer to work in the West was a Mr. Hinkle, who set up the first form of the Gazette in a little one-story building on Main Street, near the corner of the old market. Of course, in those days there were no power-presses, and they had not yet learned to make composition rollers, the inking of the forms, as well as operating the press, was a task to be performed by hand. The old Ramage press, from which copies of the first newspaper to be published in St. Louis were taken, was a very rude contrivance, and yet it was equal to the best presses of that age. This first rude hand-press served to supply the St. Louis public with their newspaper until 1827.It required forty days in those days for an item of news to travel from Washington to the banks of the Mississippi.

(Upon the paper's first anniversary, the editor published the following:)

This day completes one year's publication of the Missouri Gazette, owing to many untoward circumstances, I am not able to claim either credit or profit for its matter of size. Having disposed of my office in Kentucky, and removed my family to this place, and being determined to devote my every exertion to render the Gazette a useful vehicle in detailing faithfully, the passing tidings of the times, I throw myself on the generosity of an indulgent public, fondly hoping that they will make large allowances for past transgressions, and view with a parent's eye the difficulties in raising an infant establishment in this remote corner.

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