Richmond Enquirer

City: Richmond

State: Virginia

In 1804, Thomas Ritchie, Sr. and William W. Worsley purchased the Richmond Examiner, renamed it The Enquirer, and published its first issue on May 9, 1804. They renamed it the Richmond Enquirer in September 1815. Ritchie, Sr. served as sole editor until he was joined by Claiborne W. Gooch in 1820. From 1828 to 1836, Ritchie, Sr. and John L. Cook edited the paper together, then Ritchie, Sr. edited the paper solo again from 1836 to 1843. In 1843, his sons, William F. Ritchie and Thomas Ritchie, Jr., joined him and they edited the paper together until 1845, when Ritchie, Sr. stepped down as editor and proprietor and his sons took over the paper. In 1853, they were joined by editor Roger A. Pryor. In the years leading up to Abraham Lincoln’s death, William W. Dunnavant, Nathaniel Tyler, O. Jennings Wise, William B. Allegre, and John Mitchel also joined the paper’s editorial staff.

Throughout most of its history the paper was published semi-weekly, but a daily edition was added in 1845 and a weekly edition in 1855. Originally a mouthpiece for the Federalist Party, then a political platform for a powerful group of Democratic-Republicans in Virginia known as the Richmond Junto, the Richmond Enquirer eventually evolved into a staunchly Democratic newspaper. It was particularly influential in Virginia but was widely read throughout the South and considered one of the most important Southern newspapers of the era.

Lester J. Cappon, Virginia Newspapers, 1821-1935: A Bibliography with Historical Introduction and Notes (New York: D. Appleton-Century, 1936), 171; George Ripley and Charles A. Dana, eds., The New American Cyclopædia: A Popular Dictionary of General Knowledge (New York: D. Appleton, 1862), 14:98; S. N. D. North, History and Present Condition of the Newspaper and Periodical Press of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1884), 37; Mary Wescott and Allene Ramage, A Checklist of United States Newspapers (Durham, NC: Duke University, 1937), 6:1028, 1036, 1046, 1073; Charles Henry Ambler, Thomas Ritchie: A Study in Virginia Politics (Richmond, VA: Bell Book and Stationary, 1913), 19; Charles S. Snydor, The Development of Southern Sectionalism, 1819–1848 (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1966), 361; Wade L. Shaffer, “The Richmond Junto and Politics in Jacksonian Virginia” (Ph.D. diss., College of William and Mary, 1993), 10, 28.