In 1866, Hagerstown Newspaper Price Based on Income during Election Season

HAGERSTOWN, MD News (10/9/2022) – One of the things we’ve repeatedly had people surprised by us here at Radio Free Hub City is that we don’t charge for our news. Not only do we not hide our news behind a paywall, but we don’t even charge for printed copies of our news at local events. This may seem like a far cry from news of today, but it wasn’t always this way for consumers. It used to be, local newspapers cared more about keeping people informed than actually making a profit.

In 1866, the Maryland Free Press, a newspaper based out of Hagerstown, MD and later Williamsport, MD, believed in the right of people to be informed so strongly, that they cut their subscription price to 25 cents during election season, and even ran an ad that if there was anyone in Washington County who can’t afford to read the newspaper at that rate, they would provide them copies of the paper at no charge.

Only Twenty-Five Cents! The subscription price for the "Free Press" has been reduced to twenty-five cents for the campaign. Poverty stricken as we are, if there is a single soul in the county who will read and cannot afford to read at these rates, send on his name and he shall read at our expense.
Excerpt from the October 11, 1866 issue of the Maryland Free Press

The Maryland Free Press was a weekly newspaper published in Hagerstown, Maryland, between 1862 and 1876. Andrew G. Boyd, editor and proprietor of the Free Press, created the paper in order to represent the Democratic point of view in Western Maryland during the Civil War. His goal was to exercise the freedom guaranteed us by the Constitution, of criticizing the acts of this, or any other administration, regardless of forts, ropes or bayonets, lawless mobs, or private malice. The paper included local news, war reports, market reports, an agricultural section, and advertisements.

In 1875, Boyd left the paper to his son, Duke. Duke Boyd changed the title to the Reporter and Advertiser in March 1875 before selling it to the Hagerstown Mail in April 1876, when it was discontinued.

The Maryland Free Press provides critical insight to historians regarding Confederate sentiment after the Civil War, and shows how life was for Western Maryland during the reconstruction phase of our great nation. You can read the complete archives of the newspaper online at the Library of Congress.

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