Local News

Title: Local News
Available online: 15 October 1861 - 10 February 1862 (98 issues)

Place of publication: Alexandria, VA

The Alexandria Local News was published daily from the office of the Alexandria Gazette during the suppression of that paper by Union forces during the Civil War. Federal troops had captured Alexandria on May 24, 1861, and the following day, the Gazette suspended publication. The Local News, a small single sheet, was issued merely to fill a temporary want. It was published from October 7, 1861, to February 10, 1862, during which time the Gazette was shut down and its office burned. Fortunately, the early file of the paper had been removed to the residence of the editor.

During the Union invasion of Alexandria Col. Orlando Wilcox had demanded that Gazette editor Edgar Snowden publish a proclamation of martial law. Snowden closed down the newspaper rather than consent to the demand. As a result of this action, Federal troops seized the office of the Gazette, demolishing property and looting bonds and certificates. For five months, the city of Alexandria was without a newspaper.

Samuel Snowden, Edgar's father, had become sole owner and editor of the Gazette in 1800, a paper that traces its ancestry back to 1784 and that boasts of being the oldest daily newspaper printed continuously and still in circulation. Edgar Snowden succeeded his father as editor at the age of 21. He served as Mayor of Alexandria in 1841 and was the first representative of Alexandria to the Virginia Assembly after the retrocession of Alexandria to Virginia in 1846.

By October 1861, Snowden was ready to resume the operation of his newspapers. He published along with W. F. Crane the Local News as "a temporary experimental [sheet] issued in the conviction that it is responsive to a public want." Snowden wrote, "The Local News is issued about half-past three p.m. and contains all town matters of public interest, and a general and condensed summary of the current news of the day, prepared expressly for it, strictly with reference to the truth, as far as that can be reached." Snowden offered to the citizens of Alexandria, "we hope to see this (little sheet) a welcome visitor every afternoon to the dwelling houses, counting rooms, stores and shops of every resident of Alexandria. We labor diligently to make it deserving of public patronage. Though small, it contains all the Local News of any interest whatever, with a condensed summary of the stirring incidents which mark the present era every day."

Edgar Snowden would have one more run-in with Union forces before publication of the Local News ceased. When the rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church omitted the prayer for the Union president, an irate Union officer promptly had him arrested. The following day, Snowden characterized the incident as an "outrage on Christianity and propriety." Union soldiers retaliated by setting the newspaper's headquarters on fire. Operation of the Local News ceased on February 10, 1862. The Alexandria Gazette resumed publication on May 13, 1862, and ran until October 31, 1864, when Snowden was arrested by military authorities. The Gazette resumed publication on January 3, 1865, and has been in print since.



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