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First, a quick note that the Library’s Out of the Box and Fit to Print blogs will be joining forces under one name in the new year, so look for the new blog in 2018! Archived entries from both blogs will continue to be available. Stay tuned. . .

The Virginia Newspaper Project is delighted to announce digitized copies of Richmond Whig and Commercial Journal, a daily published by John Hampden Pleasants and Josiah Abbot from 1831-1832, are now available on Virginia Chronicle.

Thanks to a partnership with the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, which generously shared its collection with the Library of Virginia, the digitized issues on Virginia Chronicle represent a nearly complete run of Richmond Whig and Commercial Journal. This title is one among many in the Whig family of newspapers published in Richmond during the nineteenth century.

John Pleasants, born in Goochland and educated at William and Mary, practiced law before becoming a newspaper publisher. He began printing the Whig in 1824 in response to the Democratic Richmond Enquirer, published by Thomas Ritchie. The political and personal discord between the two editors became so intense it culminated in a duel on Feb. 27, 1846. Pleasant’s eventually died, at age 49, from wounds he suffered in the brutal encounter, but the Whig carried on in his absence.

Initially, the Whigwas published semiweekly as the Constitutional Whig, until the name changed to the Richmond Whig and Public Advertiser in 1833. A daily edition of the paper commenced in 1828 as the Daily Richmond Whig. The name changed to the Richmond Whig and Commercial Journal from 1831-1832, and then changed again to the Daily Richmond Whig & Public Advertiser. If you’re not confused by now, please note it was published under that title until 1840 and then alternated between Richmond Daily Whig, Daily Richmond Whig and Richmond Whig until 1888, when it was absorbed by the Daily Times.

As of today, only the Richmond Whig and Commercial Journal is available on Virginia Chronicle, but the Virginia Newspaper Project hopes to add much more in the coming years.

The Richmond Whig and Commercial Journal did contain news, but the “Commercial” part of the title is definitely apt. Advertisements made up a large portion of its content and readers could find just about anything they might be looking for, from land sales to freight and passage rates to sweet Malaga wine and Roman violin strings.

One of the more interesting products it advertised were “Instantaneous Chemical Pocket Lights, OR MAGIC MATCHES” which were “calculated for Travellers, Sportsmen, Families and Counting Houses.” Directions for magic match use were as follows: “Break the glass tube (enclosed on one end of the paper) between the thumb nail and the finger: hold match in a sloping position in order to ignite the same.”

To check out the Richmond Whig and Commercial Journal, please visit Virginia Chronicle.

Additional Civilian Conservation Corps camp newspapers will be appearing on the site in the coming months as well, so make sure to check back often to see what’s new!

Kelley Ewing

Senior Project Cataloger


  • Joanne Yeck says:

    Thanks for the short history of the WHIG under John Pleasants. Looking forward to the combined blog in the new year. Happy holidays ~ Joanne

  • Len Jolley says:

    Hi, I’m hoping I’ve come to the right place.

    I live in the UK and am looking to find a marriage anouncement of an ancestor that was published within the Richmond Whig on 4th July 1845.

    The marriage was in 1st July between Benjamin Allen and Miss Susan Sheppard, Henrico County, Virginia.

    I trie the Library of Virginia but, as such would be on microfilm, I, or someone who lives in the USA, would have to go there, which for me is not feasable.


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