Carolina Gazette, printed by F. X. Martin, at New Berne, 1794. The list of newspapers established before the publication of the Raleigh Register, by Joseph Gales, in 1799, may be found in the University Magazine, III, 46.
The family of Gales came from Eckington, England, where Joseph, the subject of our present sketch, was born. With no patrimony save probity, aided by capacity and industry, he commenced the great battle of life, receiving as good an education as the country afforded. At the age of thirteen he was bound for a term of seven years to the trade of book-binding and printing, and he became master of the craft. He married, in 1784, Winifred Marshall, daughter of John Marshall, of Newark-upon-Trent, and established himself at Sheffield, Yorkshire, as printer and publisher. In 1787, with little capital, but with what is more valuable than money, "the character of an honest and industrious business man," he issued the first number of the Sheffield Register, which, by its high tone, probity of purpose and ability, had an unprecedented circulation. "His lines had fallen in pleasant places," and he prospered. The happiness of his domestic circle was enhanced by the birth of several children, among them were Joseph, born at Eckington, April 10, 1786, died at Washington, July, 1860, and Sarah, born at Sheffield, 1789, afterward the wife of W. W. Seaton. Mr. Gales was aided, as an assistant editor, by a prepossessing youth who became an invaluable friend, and finally his successor as editor of his journal. This youth was James Montgomery, the poet.
The troubled waves of the French Revolution reached the shores of England and excited the whole country. No district was more convulsed than Sheffield. Mr. Gales and his co-editor sympathized with the cause of reform. Riots took place. Dr. Priestly's house was attacked. Hamilton Rowan escaped to America, as did Priestly. Emmet was hanged. The habeas corpus act was suspended. The printing of an insurrectionary letter to the London Club was traced to Gales' printing office, and Mr. Gales was only saved from arrest and the jail by placing the German ocean between him and his persecutors. He safely reached Amsterdam and went thence to Hamburg. There he was joined by his family, and in September, 1794, they embarked for America, landing in Philadelphia, then the seat of Government. Here the stenographic skill of Mr. Gales found ready employment, as the art of short-hand, in which Mr. Gales was well versed, was then almost unknown in the United States. He soon purchased a paper, the Independent Gazetteer, from the widow of Col. John Oswald. Years of prosperity now followed the dark days that they had passed. They met a warm welcome, and found many of their old English friends, as Dr. Priestly and others, refugees from oppression. The yellow fever, in 1799, again visited Philadelphia, and Mrs. Gales was one of the victims. Mr. Gales yielded to the inducements presented by some of the members of Congress from North Carolina, and decided to remove to Raleigh. He disposed of his paper to Samuel Harrison Smith, who, in 1800, accompanied the Government to Washington, where his journal was rebaptized as the National Intelligencer.
With the characteristic kindness of a pure and simple-hearted people, Mr. Gales found a cordial welcome in North Carolina, and he at once established a journal, reviving the names and motto of the one with which he had fought so brave a contest in Sheffield, the Raleigh Register. Here, at this kind and genial capital of a noble old commonwealth, more than an ordinary lifetime was passed, tranquilly and happily, by Mr. Gales, who enjoyed in its lovely climate the blessings of health and the respect of a generous community. Surrounded by warm friends and a family of affectionate and gifted children, the autumn of life came to him with its mellow influences, and Mr. Gales sought repose from the constant labors of prolonged and active employment. Mr. Gales decided to remove to Washington, where his son, Joseph, and his daughter, the wife of Col. Seaton, resided, to spend the remainder of his days. This announcement produced some excitement in the place where Mr. and Mrs. Gales had so long resided, and were so warmly respected. They could not be parted from silently and without emotion. A public dinner, at which every respectable citizen was present, was prepared, and over which Governor Swain presided; guests from a distance, among them Chief Justice Marshall and Judge Gaston, united to pay tribute in expressions of respect and affection to their venerable and beloved friend.
Governor Swain, in his address, June 4, 1867, at Raleigh, on the erection of a monument to Jacob Johnson, father of Andrew Johnson, offers this grateful tribute to the memory of Joseph Gales: "The venerable Joseph Gales was the senior of the editorial fraternity in years and journalistic experience. No one that knew him ever thinks of him but as the impersonification of kindness, benevolence and charity. His
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