University of Wisconsin–Madison

American Newspapers during Ratification, 1787-1788

Newspapers played a crucial role in the Revolutionary war and continued to be prominent through the Ratification Period. Although the public debate at the time was highly polemic, most newspaper editors proclaimed that their newspapers were unbiased and open to all. This could be a tricky balancing act that periodically put publishers in a bind especially during the Ratification debates. To access a more thorough discussion of the role of newspapers during the Ratification Period go to Newspapers During Ratification (pdf).

Newspaper editors in conjunction with the Post Office created a primitive press network that saw a fairly wide circulation of news and polemic essays throughout the nation. But even this system was not without its controversies. For an extended explanation of this news network and how it figured in the Ratification debates, see The Controversy Over the Post Office and the Circulation of Papers (pdf).

Below you will find a brief bibliographical explanation of the newspapers in each state by clicking on the state heading. We have assembled some detailed notes regarding some of the major newspapers of the time. Clicking on these specific newspaper names will give you access to this additional information.

Connecticut

Click here to see the first newspaper article in Connecticut informing the public of the adjournment of the Convention and announcing the proposed Constitution.

Essay on Connecticut Newspapers (pdf)

Delaware

Click here to see the first newspaper article in Delaware informing the public of the adjournment of the Convention and announcing the proposed Constitution.

Essay on Delaware Newspapers (pdf)

  • Delaware Courant, Wilmington
  • Delaware Gazette, Wilmington   (nameplate)

Georgia

Click here to see the first newspaper article in Georgia informing the public of the adjournment of the Convention and announcing the proposed Constitution.

Essay on Georgia Newspapers (pdf)

  • Gazette of the State of Georgia, Savannah
  • Georgia State Gazette, Augusta

Maryland

  • Maryland Chronicle, Fredericktown    (nameplate)
  • Maryland Gazette, Annapolis   (nameplate)
  • Maryland Gazette, Baltimore
  • Maryland Journal, Baltimore    (nameplate)
  • Palladium of Freedom, Baltimore

Massachusetts

Click here to see the first newspaper article in Massachusetts informing the public of the adjournment of the Convention and announcing the proposed Constitution.

Essay on Massachusetts Newspapers (pdf)

New Hampshire

New Jersey

Click here to see the first newspaper article in New Jersey informing the public of the adjournment of the Convention and announcing the proposed Constitution.

Essay on New Jersey Newspapers (pdf)

  • Brunswick Gazette, New Brunswick
  • New Jersey Journal, Elizabeth Town     (nameplate)
  • Trenton Mercury

New York

Click here to see the first newspaper article in New York informing the public of the adjournment of the Convention and announcing the proposed Constitution.

Essay on New York Newpapers (pdf)

North Carolina

  • North Carolina Gazette, Edenton
  • North Carolina Gazette, New Bern
  • State Gazette of North Carolina, New Bern     (nameplate)
  • Wilmington Centinel

Pennsylvania

Click here to see the first newspaper article in Pennsylvania informing the public of the adjournment of the Convention and announcing the proposed Constitution.

Essay on Pennsylvania Newspapers (pdf)

Rhode Island

Click here to see the first newspaper article in Rhode Island informing the public of the adjournment of the Convention and announcing the proposed Constitution.

Essay on Rhode Island Newspapers (pdf)

South Carolina

  • Charleston Morning Post/City Gazette   (nameplate)
  • Columbian Herald, Charleston     (nameplate)
  • South Carolina Weekly Chronicle, Charleston
  • State Gazette of South Carolina, Charleston     (nameplate)

Virginia

Click here to see the first newspaper article in Virginia informing the public of the Adjournment of the Convention and announcing the proposed Constitution.

Essay on Virginia Newspapers (pdf)

  • Kentucke Gazette, Lexington
  • Norfolk and Portsmouth Journal, Norfolk   (nameplate)
  • Virginia Centinel, Winchester
  • Virginia Gazette, Petersburg
  • Virginia Gazette, Winchester
  • Virginia Gazette and Independent Chronicle, Richmond
  • Virginia Gazette and Weekly Advertiser, Richmond     (nameplate)
  • Virginia Herald, Fredericksburg     (nameplate)
  • Virginia Independent Chronicle, Richmond
  • Virginia Journal, Alexandria     (nameplate)

Vermont