Thomas Ritchie (journalist)

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Portrait of Thomas Ritchie Thomas Ritchie portrait.jpg
Portrait of Thomas Ritchie

Thomas Ritchie (November 5, 1778 July 3, 1854) of Virginia was a leading American newspaper journalist, editor and publisher.

Virginia U.S. state in the United States

Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States located between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond; Virginia Beach is the most populous city, and Fairfax County is the most populous political subdivision. The Commonwealth's estimated population as of 2018 is over 8.5 million.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe, which is 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.



He read law and medicine, but, instead of practicing either, set up a bookstore in Richmond, Virginia in 1803. He bought out the Republican newspaper the Richmond Enquirer in 1804, and made it a financial and political success, as editor and publisher for 41 years. The paper appeared three times a week. Thomas Jefferson said of the Enquirer: "I read but a single newspaper, Ritchie's Enquirer, the best that is published or ever has been published in America." [1] Ritchie wrote the stirring partisan editorials, clipped the news from Washington and New York papers, and did most of the local reporting himself. For 25 years he was state printer, a method by which his political friends subsidized their most articulate voice.

Richmond, Virginia Capital of Virginia

Richmond is a city in, and the capital of, the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and the Greater Richmond Region. Richmond was incorporated in 1742 and has been an independent city since 1871.

Thomas Jefferson Third President of the United States

Thomas Jefferson was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, and Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809. Previously, he had served as the second vice president of the United States from 1797 to 1801. The principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was a proponent of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights, motivating American colonists to break from the Kingdom of Great Britain and form a new nation; he produced formative documents and decisions at both the state and national level.

Ritchie was a leader of the "Richmond Junto" that controlled the Republican state committee, originally with Ritchie's relatives Spencer Roane and Dr. John Brockenbrough of the Virginia State Bank. Richmond was a violent frontier town when Ritchie arrived.[ citation needed ] Controversial rival journalist and Jefferson opponent James T. Callender was found drowned in three feet of water in 1803. Nonetheless, Ritchie set up a press and began advocating restrictions on free blacks as well as slave manumissions. Lawyer and Richmond Enquirer founding editor Meriwether Jones died in a duel on August 3, 1806. John Daly Burk and Skelton Jones (Meriwether's brother) also both died in duels before completing a projected four volume history of Richmond. [2] Ritchie editorialized against South Carolina and Georgia reopening the transatlantic slave trade, and later for U.S. intervention in the War of 1812. Political rivals also could find themselves excoriated in the press, and even President James Monroe was not immune. A faction of the Democratic-Republican party, once nicknamed the quids and thought more radical than Jefferson, grew increasingly pro-slavery, anti-foreigner and anti-Catholic over time. Committed to democratic reform in representation of the western counties and full manhood suffrage (for whites), Ritchie promoted the 1829 Virginia state constitutional convention. A modernizer, Ritchie came to promote public schools and extensive state internal improvements.

Spencer Roane American judge

Spencer Roane was a Virginia lawyer, politician and jurist. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates for six years and a year in the Commonwealth's small executive branch. The majority of his public career was as a judge, first of the General Court and later on the Court of Appeals.

John Brockenbrough (1775–1852) was a business man and civic leader in Richmond, Virginia. He was president of the Bank of Virginia. His home in Richmond's Court End District later served as the "White House" for the Confederate States of America.

Birthplace of Thomas Ritchie, Tappahannock, Virginia Thomas Ritchie home.jpg
Birthplace of Thomas Ritchie, Tappahannock, Virginia

In national politics, Ritchie's influence rested first on an alliance with New York Senator Martin Van Buren. They both promoted William H. Crawford's presidential candidacy in 1824, and next that of Andrew Jackson in 1828. Ritchie favored the "Old Republican" "principles of '98, '99" against what he considered the corrupting influence of Henry Clay and the divisive tactics of John C. Calhoun, whose nullification and Southern-party policies Ritchie detested. Late in his life, Ritchie denounced abolitionists but supported gradual emancipation.

Martin Van Buren Eighth president of the United States

Martin Van Buren was an American statesman who served as the eighth president of the United States from 1837 to 1841. He was the first president born after the independence of the United States from the British Empire. A founder of the Democratic Party, he previously served as the ninth governor of New York, the tenth United States secretary of state, and the eighth vice president of the United States. He won the 1836 presidential election with the endorsement of popular outgoing President Andrew Jackson and the organizational strength of the Democratic Party. He lost his 1840 reelection bid to Whig Party nominee William Henry Harrison, due in part to the poor economic conditions of the Panic of 1837. Later in his life, Van Buren emerged as an elder statesman and important anti-slavery leader, who led the Free Soil Party ticket in the 1848 presidential election.

William H. Crawford American politician and judge (1772–1834)

William Harris Crawford was an American politician and judge during the early 19th century. He served as United States Secretary of War and United States Secretary of the Treasury before running for president in the 1824 election.

1824 United States presidential election Election of 1824

The 1824 United States presidential election was the tenth quadrennial presidential election, held from October 26 to December 2, 1824. No candidate won a majority of the electoral vote, becoming the only election to require a contingent election in the House of Representatives under the provisions of the 12th Amendment. On February 9, 1825, the House chose John Quincy Adams as president. It was the first election in which the winner did not achieve at least a plurality of the national popular vote.

In the 1844 US presidential election, Ritchie supported James K. Polk because of Polk's support for the annexation of Texas. Polk brought Ritchie to Washington to edit the national paper The Union (1845 to 1851). Ritchie supported the Compromise of 1850, but the new paper never was as influential as the Enquirer. Meanwhile, Ritchie had lost his Virginia base, as his son and namesake took over the Richmond Enquirer. In 1846, Thomas Ritchie Jr. killed Richmond Whig founder and editor John Hampden Pleasants in a duel.

1844 United States presidential election 15th US presidential election

The 1844 United States presidential election was the 15th presidential election, held from November 1 to December 4, 1844. Democrat James K. Polk defeated Whig Henry Clay in a close contest turning on the controversial issues of slavery and the annexation of the Republic of Texas.

James K. Polk Eleventh president of the United States

James Knox Polk was the 11th president of the United States, serving from 1845 to 1849. He previously was Speaker of the House of Representatives (1835–1839) and governor of Tennessee (1839–1841). A protégé of Andrew Jackson, he was a member of the Democratic Party and an advocate of Jacksonian democracy. Polk is chiefly known for extending the territory of the United States during the Mexican–American War; during his presidency, the United States expanded significantly with the annexation of the Republic of Texas, the Oregon Territory, and the Mexican Cession following the American victory in the Mexican–American War.

Washington, D.C. Capital of the United States

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, the first president of the United States and a Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city, located on the Potomac River bordering Maryland and Virginia, is one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.

See also

Charles Henry Ambler American historian, teacher, professor and civil servant

Charles Henry Ambler was an American historian, teacher, professor and civil servant. As a historian he was an accomplished writer of Virginia and West Virginia history, publishing many works on those subjects. Ambler is noted for his expertise on the American Civil War in how it brought about the formation of West Virginia. He was also noted for his approach in applying modern research techniques in the study of West Virginia's history, and was complimented by his contemporaries of belonging to the "modern school of historians". During his career as a historian and professor Ambler had authored and published numerous works on Colonial Virginia, the states of Virginia and West Virginia before and during the American Civil War, along with publications about the colonial move westward.

History of Virginia aspect of history

The History of Virginia begins with documentation by the first Spanish explorers to reach the area in the 1500s, when it was occupied chiefly by Algonquian, Iroquoian, and Siouan peoples. After a failed English attempt to colonize Virginia in the 1580s by Walter Raleigh, permanent English colonization began in Virginia with Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. The Virginia Company colony was looking for gold but failed and the colonists could barely feed themselves. The famine during the harsh winter of 1609 forced the colonists to eat leather from their clothes and boots and resort to cannibalism. The colony nearly failed until tobacco emerged as a profitable export. It was grown on plantations, using primarily indentured servants for the intensive hand labor involved. After 1662, the colony turned black slavery into a hereditary racial caste. By 1750, the primary cultivators of the cash crop were West African slaves. While the plantations thrived because of the high demand for tobacco, most white settlers raised their families on subsistence farms. Warfare with the Virginia Indian nations had been a factor in the 17th century; after 1700 there was continued conflict with natives east of the Alleghenies, especially in the French and Indian War (1754-1763), when the tribes were allied with the French. The westernmost counties including Wise and Washington only became safe with the death of Bob Benge in 1794.

History of West Virginia history of the US state of West Virginia

West Virginia is one of two American states formed during the American Civil War (1861–1865), along with Nevada, and is the only state to form by seceding from a Confederate state. It was originally part of the British Virginia Colony (1607–1776) and the western part of the state of Virginia (1776–1863), whose population became sharply divided over the issue of secession from the Union and in the separation from Virginia, formalized by admittance to the Union as a new state in 1863. West Virginia was one of the Civil War Border states.

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James Monroe Fifth President of the United States

James Monroe was an American statesman, lawyer, diplomat and Founding Father who served as the fifth president of the United States from 1817 to 1825. A member of the Democratic-Republican Party, Monroe was the last president of the Virginia dynasty; his presidency coincided with the Era of Good Feelings. He is perhaps best known for issuing the Monroe Doctrine, a policy of opposing European colonialism in the Americas. He also served as the governor of Virginia, a member of the United States Senate, the U.S. ambassador to France and Britain, the seventh Secretary of State, and the eighth Secretary of War.

Democratic-Republican Party Historical American political party

The Democratic-Republican Party was an American political party formed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison around 1792 to oppose the centralizing policies of the new Federalist Party run by Alexander Hamilton, who was Secretary of the Treasury and chief architect of George Washington's administration. From 1801 to 1825, the new party controlled the presidency and Congress as well as most states during the First Party System. It began in 1791 as one faction in Congress and included many politicians who had been opposed to the new constitution. They called themselves Republicans after their political philosophy, republicanism, and never actually went by the name of the Democratic party, or called themselves "Democrats", a term they would have "regarded as an insult." They distrusted the Federalist tendency to centralize and loosely interpret the Constitution, believing these policies were signs of monarchism and anti-republican values. The party splintered in 1824, with the faction loyal to Andrew Jackson coalescing into the Jacksonian movement, the faction led by John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay forming the National Republican Party and some other groups going on to form the Anti-Masonic Party. The National Republicans, Anti-Masons, and other opponents of Andrew Jackson later formed themselves into the Whig Party.

Federalist Party First political party in the United States

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1828 United States presidential election Election of 1828

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Henry Clay American politician

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John Taylor of Caroline American politician

John Taylor, usually called John Taylor of Caroline, was a politician and writer. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates and in the United States Senate. He wrote several books on politics and agriculture. He was a Jeffersonian Republican and his works provided inspiration to the later states' rights and libertarian movements. Sheldon and Hill (2008) locate Taylor at the intersection of republicanism and classical liberalism. They see his position as a "combination of a concern with Lockean natural rights, freedom, and limited government along with a classical interest in strong citizen participation in rule to prevent concentrated power and wealth, political corruption, and financial manipulation" (p. 224).

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Francis Preston Blair American newspaper editor and presidential advisor

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Andrew Jackson Donelson American diplomat

Andrew Jackson Donelson was an American diplomat. He served in various positions as a Democrat and was the Know Nothing nominee for Vice President of the United States in 1856.

Presidency of Thomas Jefferson 1801–1809 U.S. administration and cabinet

The presidency of Thomas Jefferson began on March 4, 1801, when he was inaugurated as the third President of the United States, and ended on March 4, 1809. Jefferson assumed the office after defeating incumbent President John Adams in the 1800 presidential election. The election was a realigning election in which the Democratic-Republican Party swept the Federalist Party out of power, ushering in a generation of Democratic-Republican dominance in American politics. After serving two terms, Jefferson was succeeded by Secretary of State James Madison, also of the Democratic-Republican Party.

The Anti-Administration party (1789–1792) was an informal faction led by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson that opposed policies of then Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in the first term of President George Washington. This was not an organized political party, but an unorganized faction and most had been Anti-Federalists in 1788, meaning they opposed ratification of the Constitution of the United States. However, the situation was fluid, with members moving in and out.

First Party System

The First Party System is a model of American politics used in history and political science to periodize the political party system that existed in the United States between roughly 1792 and 1824. It featured two national parties competing for control of the presidency, Congress, and the states: the Federalist Party, created largely by Alexander Hamilton, and the rival Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican Party, formed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, usually called at the time the Republican Party. The Federalists were dominant until 1800, while the Republicans were dominant after 1800.

James Thomson Callender was a political pamphleteer and journalist whose writing was controversial in his native Scotland and later, also in the United States. His contemporary reputation was as a "scandalmonger", due to the content of some of his reporting, which overshadowed the political content — some modern scholars note Callender's writings in favor of democracy. In the United States, he was a central figure in the press wars between the Federalist and Democratic-Republican parties. In the late 1790s, Thomas Jefferson sought him out to attack President John Adams, which Callender did. After Jefferson won the presidency, Callender expected employment as a postmaster, which was denied by Jefferson. Callender then reported on President Jefferson's children by his slave concubine Sally Hemings.

<i>Constitutional Telegraphe</i> newspaper in Boston, Massachusetts

The Constitutional Telegraphe (1799-1802) was a newspaper produced in Boston, Massachusetts, at the turn of the 19th century. The paper sympathized with the Democratic-Republican Party, and supported Thomas Jefferson. Publishers included Samuel S. Parker, Jonathan S. Copp, John S. Lillie, and John Mosely Dunham. The paper was originally called the Constitutional Telegraph. The "e" was added to Telegraphe with the 1 January 1800 issue. This issue included a new engraved masthead of an eagle and the motto "We advocate the rights of man."

The New York Courier and Enquirer, properly called the Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, was a daily broadsheet newspaper published in New York City from June 1829 until June 1861, when it was merged into the New York World. Throughout its life it was edited by newspaper publisher James Watson Webb. It was closely connected with the rise and fall of the United States Whig Party, and was noted for its careful coverage of New York Harbor shipping news and its close attention to speeches and events in the United States Congress.

John Hampden Pleasants was an American journalist and businessman. He is known as the editor and founder of the Richmond Whig, a daily newspaper that was later active during the Civil War. Pleasants died on March 1, 1846 after participating in a duel with Thomas Ritchie, who was the editor of a rival newspaper, the Richmond Enquirer.

The Richmond Examiner, a newspaper which was published during the American Civil War under the masthead of Daily Richmond Examiner, was one of the newspapers published in the Confederate capital of Richmond. Its editors viewed strong executive leadership as a threat to the liberties of its subscription readership. The paper published staunch and increasingly vitriolic opposition to the leadership and policies of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Historians often consult the pages of the Examiner for insights into the growing problems faced by the Davis administration and the South as they faced the increasing prospect of defeat in the Civil War.

Samuel Taylor was a 19th century American politician and lawyer from Virginia.


  1. "Thomas Jefferson to William Short, September 8, 1823" . Retrieved 2006-09-30.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  2. Dabney, Richmond: the Story of a City (University Press of Virginia, 1990 rev. ed), pp. 66-67.