The people of Indiana County had strong feelings about the issue of slavery. Many local people were against the practice and argued for abolition. These individuals expressed themselves in a number of ways, including the printed word. Listed below are some examples of publications produced by the antislavery movement in Indiana County.
The Clarion of Freedom was Indiana County’s first antislavery newspaper. It was started in June of 1843 as a response to the antislavery sentiments that were developing in Indiana. The paper was first published by James Moorhead and “Mr. Thompson.” Mr. Thompson has not been identified, but it is possible that this was Samuel H. Thompson.
Moorhead was one of the most outspoken abolition leaders in Indiana County. He had also worked on several Antimason publications. The paper was published on a weekly basis. Subscription cost one dollar for a year if the subscription was purchased in the first six months of the year, a dollar and twenty-five cents if it was purchased after the 26th issue was published, and a dollar and fifty cents if the subscription was paid at the end of the year. Few copies of the paper have survived into the present. (Stephenson 368)
James Moorhead ran the paper for about 12 years. Throughout that time, the paper supported abolition and the Liberty Party and Free Soil ideals. In 1855, Moorhead decided to sell the paper to G.P. Reed and William McClaran Jr. These two men took over the publication and changed its name to the Indiana True American and the paper became associated with the “Know Nothing” party. (Stephenson 369)
James Moorhead did not quietly retire from the publishing business after selling the Clarion. Together, he and his son J.W. Moorhead began publishing a new antislavery paper, The Indiana Independent. This paper continued in its support of abolition, but also argued against the Know Nothing party that had acquired the Clarion.
The Know Nothings of Indiana were anti-slavery, which caused friction between the Independent and the Indiana True American. This conflict came to a head later that year, and Moorhead’s Free Soil opinions were ultimately defeated by the Know Nothing party who would go on to lead the antislavery movement in Indiana County. James Moorhead died on January 9, 1857, but his son J.S. continued to publish the Independent. (Stephenson 369-370)
The Appalachian is a final example of Indiana County’s antislavery newspapers. It was started in Blairsville by Richard B. McCabe and R. H. Woodward. The Appalachian began as a Democratic newspaper, but in 1848, McCabe did not wish to support the Democratic nominee for, president and the paper began to support Martin van Buren, the Free Soil candidate, instead.
In May 1849, the paper changed hands and was declared to be an independent democratic journal, and it continued to support the Free Soil agenda. Under the new leadership, the paper also began to oppose the Know Nothings. The paper was sold once again, however, after the Know Nothings gained popularity in Indiana County. (Stephenson 370)