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Religious Newspapers

Among the many religious publications appearing in Maine, a few of the early ones are worth of especial mention. The Christian Intelligencer, the first Universalist organ in the state, was printed in 1821. The Christian Mirror, published in 1822, was one of the pioneers of the religious press and attained a circulation that was remarkable at the time. Previous to the Civil War it was sent to every state in the Union, to parts of Europe and to Asia. It's first editor was Dr. Asa Rand. During its long history it took a prominent part in many important discussions. In the year 1830 appeared the Sabbath School instructor, a juvenile paper published by D. C. Colesworthy, and the Maine Wesleyan Journal, a Methodist publication edited by Gersham H. Cox. The Journal was later conducted by Horatio King. It was finally transferred to Boston and united to the Zion's Herald. Two of the organs of the Baptist denomination were the Maine Baptist Herald -- the first paper to fully coinciding with the faith of the primitive Baptists --published in 1824, and the Zion's Advocate, edited by Rev. Adam Wilson in 1837. The Freewill Baptists issued the Family Instructor in 1841. Other Universalist publications appeared in the Christian Pilot, about 1832, and the Universalist Palladium, about 1839. Both of these papers were later merged with the Gospel Banner, a weekly religious newspaper which had been established in 1835 under the editorship of Rev. William A. Drew. This in turn, after several years of prosperity in Maine was merged into the Universalist Leader, now published in Boston. The Universalist Banner, a monthly paper, was first published in 1904. It is printed in Augusta. In 1856 the Evangelist, a Congregational paper, started at Portland some months previously, was removed to Lewiston and published from the Journal office until 1861-02, when it was discontinued.

Two early papers devoted to the cause of negro emancipation were the Advocate of Freedom, edited by Professor Smyth, in Brunswick in 1838, and the Liberty Standard, published in the same town four years later. The second publication was edited first by Elijah P. Lovejoy, Maine's Martyr to the cause of antislavery, and later by Rev. Austin Willey, an ardent supporter of the same cause. Enthusiastic workers for temperance published papers that exerted a strong influence in bringing about state prohibition of the liquor traffic.

From a small beginning of only eight papers published in the District in 1810, there are now about one hundred sixteen in the state with a total circulation of between three and four million. Augusta ranks first, Portland comes next and then follow Bangor and Lewiston. It is said that the quantity of work done in Augusta exceeds any other town of its size in the Union and surpasses many of the several times its population.

Source(s) for narrative on this page: The Maine Book, by Henry E. Dunnack, Librarian of Maine State Library. Augusta, Maine 1920. pages 152-153.

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State Coordinator ~ Tina S. Vickery
Special thanks to David Colby Young, Maine's previous State Coordinator.