The first newspaper in Kentucky…

April 5, 2010 by  
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The first newspaper ever published west of the Allegheny Mountains was established in Lexington, in 1787, by John Bradford. It was then called the “Kentucke Gazette“, but the final “e” of Kentucky was afterward changed to “y”, in consequence of the Virginia legislature requiring certain advertisements to be inserted in the “Kentucky Gazette“.

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This paper was born of the necessities of the times. The want of a government independent of Virginia was then universally felt, and the second convention that met in Danville, in 1785, to discuss that subject, resolved, “That to ensure unanimity in the opinion of the people respecting the propriety of separating the district of Kentucky from Virginia and forming a separate state government, and to give publicity to the proceedings of the convention, it is deemed essential to the interests of the country to have a printing press.”

John Bradford informed the committee that he would establish a paper if the convention would guarantee to him the public patronage. To this the convention acceded, and in 1786 Bradford sent to Philadelphia for the necessary materials. He had already received every encouragement from the citizens on Lexington, and at a meeting of the trustees in July, it was ordered “that the use of a public lot be granted to John Bradford free, on condition that he establish a printing press in Lexington; the lot to be free to him as long as the press is in town,”

At last, after many months on the route, the precious printing material arrived, and on August 18, 1787, appeared the first number of the first newspaper ever published in the then western wilderness. It was a quaint little brown thing, about the size of a half sheet of common letter paper, “subscription price 18 shillings per annum, advertisements of moderate length 3 shillings.” The first number is without a heading, and contains one advertisement, two short original articles, and the following apology from the editor:

“My customers will excuse this, my first publication, as I am much hurried to get an impression by the time appointed. A great part of the types fell into pi [disorder] in the carriage of them from Limestone (Maysville) to this office, and my partner, which is the only assistant I have, through an indisposition of the body, has been incapable of rendering the smallest assistance for ten days past.   JOHN BRADFORD.”
Source:  Much of the credit for this post goes to George W. Ranck’s  “History of Lexington, Kentucky…”

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