Factionalism in Pre-Civil War Georgia Journalism

In early nineteenth-century Georgia, political factions were split behind two feuding politicians, George Troup and John Clark. The Troupite faction consisted largely of planters and aristocrats, while the Clarkite faction had support from small farmers and frontier settlers. Along this divide, rival newspapers formed in Georgia's larger cities, reflecting the state’s bitter political environment. At the state capital in Milledgeville, the Troup-affiliated Southern Recorder opposed the Clark leanings of the Federal Union. In Macon, the Georgia Messenger was the Troupite paper and the Macon Telegraph aligned with the Clarkites; similar journalistic divisions existed in Columbus, Savannah, and Augusta. These politically aligned papers publicized the bitter and sometimes violent confrontations between the factions, which, by the 1840s, had aligned with national parties: the Clark faction aligning with the Democratic Party and the Troup faction aligning with the Whig Party. The divisions between papers and parties were often blurred in Georgia, but by 1861, the press had abandoned much of their political animosities and supported Georgia’s secession from the Union to protect the institution of slavery.