Saturday, November 20, 2010

Print Prospectus


One Capital Removed

One Capital Removed is happy to be revived by the introduction of a print column in The 'Ville. Electronic readers should download Caminova's DjVu Browser Plugin to view links from the Milledgeville Historic Newspaper Archive.

“By the collision of different sentiments, says an eminent philosopher, sparks of truth are struck out, and political light is obtained.”

When Seaton Grantland published the first edition of The Georgia Journal on November 13, 1809, he did so confidently, knowing that every reader understood the value of another newspaper advocating the rights of the people and instilling in them sound principles on political and moral subjects. “[It] is a truth too evident to require illustration,” he wrote.

Despite readers’ modern reluctance to pay for that value, The ‘Ville subscribes to Grantland’s supposition — wherein any person speaking openly and honestly on the workings of the government will gather around them others of equal temper and passion so as to ignite dialogue on the great challenges of our times —in inaugurating publication of One Capital Removed, a regular column on Georgia, its General Assembly and the revolving cast of characters who’ve made the state noteworthy in times past, present and future.

To celebrate the embarkation on this task of commenting on the present, the writer will oblige himself to stray from the agreed upon format of this column and seek the counsel of those who have come and gone before in attempts to evoke the spirit that led others to put their thoughts to the page in years past. History has much to tell us about our present and future, and as viewed through the lens of the Milledgeville Historic Newspaper Archive, Milledgeville’s past can provide ample insight into today’s issues, events and the idiom that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

As a means to finding that end, readers need not search farther than Grantland’s Prospectus of the Georgia Journal, to recognize the deep-seated suspicion and begrudging acceptance of political parties, as appropriated from Benjamin Franklin’s musing that the “different factions, which at present divide us, aim all at the public good; the differences are only about the various modes of promoting it.” And even recent converts to the political faith will recognize Phillip Guieu and John Jones’ entreaty in the February 1828 debut of The Southron that “every patriot should arm himself with the constitution and the laws, and oppose with the firmness of a free man, the efforts made to change the public institutions of the country.” Under that advice, few readers can question John Polhill’s July 1830 decision to open the first edition of The Federal Union with transcripts of the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution and Washington’s Farewell Address, reasoning that although most subscribers have read these important documents, many have not paid them the attention they deserve.

"The present seems to be an era of Constitutional discussions" — Polhill wrote almost 180 years before our current Constitutional fanaticism — "discussions which go back in argument to the primitive principles of our government."

As if they were ripped from newspapers published just two weeks ago, these issues have a way of staying on the tips of people’s tongues: division between opposing political ideologies, fear over a perceived hijacking of the machinery of government and a desire to return to the fundamental building blocks of our republic.

Like its predecessors in the Milledgeville penny press, One Capital Removed lays no claim to the knowledge necessary to answer these questions, nor does it make any guarantees on the veracity of the views expressed within this column. But like Seaton Grantland before me, I can promise that One Capital Removed "will not decline the discussion of political measures, or other subjects of general concern, where truth may probably be elicited by the enquiry."