On July 29, 1786, John Scull and Joseph Hall published the first newspaper west of the Allegheny Mountains, the Pittsburgh Gazette . This four-page weekly was produced on a wooden press, the first ever to make the precarious wagon journey over the mountains from Philadelphia.
Since 1786, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has chronicled the history of the city of Pittsburgh and the United States of America. One of the newspaper’s first public services was the printing of the newly adopted Constitution of the United States in 1787. In its early history, the paper was also known for promoting the expansion of our growing nation and fighting for the abolition of slavery. In fact, one of The Gazette’s first articles was publishing the newly adopted Constitution of the United States!
After Scull’s retirement in 1828, The Gazette passed into the hands of Morgan Neville. Neville then changed the name to the Pittsburgh Gazette and Manufacturing and Mercantile Advertiser and, within a year, sold it to David McClean. The McCleans dropped the long title and reverted back to The Gazette .
Neville Craig followed the McCleans and brought new life to what had become a somewhat stodgy publication. Under Craig, the Gazette became a personalized “daily” with many new features and a Washington correspondent. By 1841, David N. White succeeded Craig and gradually made the Gazette one of the chief spokesmen of the anti-slavery forces in the North. White also transformed the Gazette into a morning paper in 1844, and in 1851 redesigned the publication using larger type and an enlarged sheet.
Essentially a conservative paper at the time, The Gazette was respected throughout the community for its instrumental role in organizing the Republican Party in Allegheny County and abetting Abraham Lincoln’s election landslide. The Gazette perceived the impending split between the North and South long before other papers, and made this comment on Lincoln’s inaugural address: “It may cost the nation a war to maintain itself against this mad rebellion. To yield to it must not for a moment be thought of.”
So the next time you open an edition of the Post-Gazette, take a moment to reflect on how influential the paper is in American history.