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The True American

The True American was an anti-slavery newspaper started by Cassius Marcellus Clay in June 1845. He ran the paper in Lexington until August of 1845, when he published an article deemed so incendiary that a court injunction was issued against his printing, and his press shipped to Cincinnati. An advocate of the right to a free press, and his right of free speech, Clay continued printing the paper through 1847 in Cincinnati. The paper was distributed in Lexington. While focused on advancing the cause of emancipation, Clay also published poetry, agriculture, labor, and commercial news. There are also marriage and death notices from the surrounding area, some national.

Cassius Marcellus Clay was a fiery figure in Kentucky history. He often fought in duels and in street fights, generally in response to arguments against his emancipationist views. Later in life, he often had shootouts with the Madison County Sheriff at his home, Whitehall.

After the publication of his incendiary editorial (August 12, 1845, page 3 columns 1-4), he is said to have armed his printing shop with two brass cannons and myriad other weapons to fend off any attacks. The committee charged with removing his press did so while Clay was incapacitated with a fever, avoiding what surely would have been a deadly counterattack from Clay. In the March 18, 1846 paper, Clay addresses the attack, and continues his fiery rhetoric, finally offering a discount to non-slaveholders in slave states.

He is featured in an episode of the Library’s podcast "Tales from the Kentucky Room", which is linked here and under the access link for the paper.

The Library only has a short run of The True American. It has been digitized from the microfilm, which can be accessed in the Kentucky Room. Several issues have significant mildew damage, so in some cases the OCR quality may be poor, though the print itself is still legible.

Here are the dates in the Library’s collection of the True American:

1845:
June 3
June 10
June 17
June 24
July 1
July 8
July 15
July 22
July 29
August 5
August 12
August 19 (missing pages 3 & 4) – The printing office was sacked on August 18.

1846:
March 18
 

4 columns of the editorial page of The True American

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