The Pendleton Messenger began as Miller’s Weekly Messenger, named for its publisher “Printer” John Miller (ca. 1744–1807), an early white settler in the Pendleton District. While connected with the London Evening Post from 1769 to 1780, Miller was charged with libel several times and imprisoned for six months for printing articles exposing corruption in the English government, including the famous “Junius Letters,” which attacked corruption in Britain. He immigrated to Philadelphia, where he was invited to become South Carolina’s state printer. Miller founded the South-Carolina Gazette and General Advertiser in Charleston in 1783. It became the state’s first daily newspaper in November 1784.
That same year Miller moved to Pendleton District, where he was granted 640 acres of land. He may have attempted an earlier newspaper that failed. In 1807 he began publishing Miller’s Weekly Messenger, the westernmost newspaper in the state at that time. Miller died later that year, and his son, John Miller, Jr. (later called John Miller, Sr.), continued publication of the paper. The name changed to the Pendleton Messenger around 1812. The newspaper’s audience included lowcountry plantation owners who discovered Pendleton as a summer retreat in the early 1800s. The paper included notices of interest to both regions.
In 1826 John Miller was succeeded as editor by Frederick W. Symmes, a physician and writer from Pendleton. John C. Calhoun’s famous “Fort Hill Address,” in which he made his first public declaration in favor of nullification, was published as a letter to the editor of the Pendleton Messenger on July 26, 1831. For months afterward the newspaper was filled with favorable press notices for the address. Symmes published the Pendleton Messenger until the mid-1840s, and then it was taken over by Burt and Thompson until the 1850s. In 1858 the paper moved to Hartwell, Georgia, and became the Hartwell Messenger.
Klosky, Beth Ann. The Pendleton Legacy. Columbia, S.C.: Sandlapper, 1971. McNeely, Patricia G. The Palmetto Press: The History of South Carolina’s Newspapers and the Press Association. Columbia: South Carolina Press Association, 1998.
Moore, John Hammond, comp. and ed. South Carolina Newspapers. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1988.