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The Register and The Standard

Before they can compared and analyzed, it would be beneficial to present some background information on both the Raleigh Weekly Standard and the Weekly Raleigh Register, which may explain why the papers adopted their respective tones over the course of the war, 1862 in particular. It should come as no surprise to any reader that both newspapers, much like their modern counterparts, were edited and published with clear political affiliations. The publishers of both the Register and the Standard had long-held ties to the Democratic Party in the years leading up to the war, which was reflected in the articles they published over the year. However, this is not to say that the two entirely held common ground when a new year of war began in 1862. When reading publications from that year, it becomes clear that by 1862 the two papers had divided along new party lines.

Raleigh’s Weekly Standard can be seen as having undergone major changes in 1862 from the years before. The Weekly Standard had long been considered the voice of the Democratic Party, and it had grown tremendously under the direction of William W. Holden who bought its control in 1842. (Powell) In the twenty years that followed Holden gained both a great number of readers throughout the state and a formidable reputation as an editor with unsurpassed influence, which lead to him becoming known as what some might call the tactical leader of the Democrats in North Carolina.  (Powell) Holden became known as the supporter of “common folk,” actively pursuing various means of reform within the state, which included universal education and internal improvement. (Powell) Signs of Holden’s waiving allegiance to the Democratic Party, however, can be seen as early as 1860, when he was removed from being the state’s printer after he published an editorial against secession.  (Folk, 123) In the two years that followed, by 1862, Holden moved to split entirely from the Democrats in favor of the Conservative Party, which had developed with a greater emphasis on individual and states’ rights. Holden ran for governor as a peace candidate against the Conservative Vance in 1864, but lost by a considerable margin. Also, Holden ultimately became the Governor of North Carolina in 1868 under the Republican Party, which may be interpreted simply as a Reconstruction-era political move, or perhaps as reflective of the way he had politically developed during the war.  In the following sections it will be made clear how this switch to the Conservatives lead to a great deal of tension between the Standard and other papers, especially the Register, but was likely more representative of the state as a whole.

On the other hand, in 1862 the Weekly Raleigh Register, which was published by Syme and Hall, continued to be published under its affiliation to the Democratic Party. In contrast to Holden, relatively little can be found on Syme and Hall, which may be reflective of both the smaller number of readers and the amount of influence they had with the Register in comparison to the Standard. Syme and Hall had ties to a number of other North Carolina newspapers at the time, including the Daily Intelligencer and the North Carolina Gazette. (Gilder) Furthermore, Syme and Hall were named printers of the North Carolina Convention in 1861 and 1862, which may show that they were in better standing with the Democratic Party at that time.  (Gilder) Despite the fact that they were not as widely known or read as Holden’s Standard, articles published in the Standard often refuted information from the Register. Perhaps Syme and Hall did hold some degree of political influence and stood as a threat to the Standard at least to some degree. In the end, as it will be shown, stronger ties to the Democratic Party in 1862 meant that the Register would contrast the Standard in that it would work more to promote and draw support for the Confederate national government over those of the state.