The Marietta Advocate: the first newspaper in Cobb County (1843)

The front page of an 1861 copy of the Marietta Advocate

by Larry Felton Johnson

I have a fascination with old newspapers. As a journalist, looking through the changes in form and substance of newspapers through the 19th and 20th centuries (and even a few 18th Century) papers fascinates me.

So when I visit the Georgia Historic Newspapers website, I’m like a 72-year-old kid in a candy store. The site is a part of the GALILEO project, and is housed at the University of Georgia.

The site is adding additional newspapers frequently, and their collection at the moment spans the years 1763 to 2023. Needless to say, the earliest newspapers are from coastal Georgia since during that time period the rest of what became Georgia was in the Native American nations.

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This morning I decided to do a general search for Cobb County newspapers to see what I could find besides the obvious paper, the Marietta Daily Journal (which operated under various versions of that name in its early days).

In doing so I hit on two newspapers that were formed shortly after Cobb County was formed out of what had been Indian lands. Cobb was one of the nine counties formed when the much larger Cherokee County was broken up.

So moving back to the title of this article: what was the first newspaper in Cobb County?

The first newspaper in Cobb was the Marietta Advocate, which began publishing in 1843.

It began publishing in 1843, only a month before the second-oldest paper, the Marietta Helicon, was formed. It was owned by Nathaniel Calder, and was associated with the Democratic Party, whereas the Helicon supported the Whig Party.

According to the Advocate’s page on the Georgia Historic Newspaper site:

It isn’t clear why Calder originally chose to call his paper the Cherokee Advocate,since Marietta was located in the relatively new Cobb County, but Cobb County was one of ten counties formed out of seized Cherokee Native American land.

Between 1843 and 1847, the paper was retitled as the Marietta Advocate, perhaps due to another contemporaneous Cherokee Advocate published by the Cherokee Nation. In 1845, Ralph McAlpin Goodman, the editor-in-chief at the Augusta Constitutionalist since 1844, purchased land near Marietta and moved to the town in 1847.

The same year as his arrival, Goodman took over the editorial helm of the Marietta Advocate while Calder remained as publisher.

Goodman was not associated with the Advocate for long, however, and resigned his position in the spring of 1848 due to disagreements with the area’s leading Democrats on the issue of secession; Goodman held strong unionist beliefs and would not retract his stance despite pressure from local party leaders.

Goodman became the first editor of the newly formed Constitutional Union in Marietta, a newspaper associated with the Constitutional Union party, a party staunchly loyal to the United States, and opposed to succession.

The Marietta Advocate published until 1964, when it was forced to shut down by the occupying U.S. troops.

Goodman went on to found the Marietta Journal, the earliest name of what is today’s Marietta Daily Journal.

The Georgia Historic newspaper site has three pages from an 1848 copy under the name Cherokee Advocate which you can browse by following this link.

The first issue of the Advocate Georgia Historic Newspapers was able to find and digitize under the name Marietta Advocate was from January of 1861. To browse copies of the Marietta Advocate follow this link.

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