Published in Charleston, the Post and Courier is the oldest daily newspaper in South Carolina.
(2003 circulation: 98,896 daily and 109,457 Sunday). Published in Charleston, the Post and Courier is the oldest daily newspaper in South Carolina. The publication’s lineage can be traced through three newspapers. The oldest, the Charleston Courier, began publication on January 10, 1803. It was founded by Massachusetts native Aaron Smith Willington and several partners. The newspaper opposed nullification in the 1830s and secession in the 1850s, ensuring that it would remain in conflict with its chief rival, the pro-states’-rights Charleston Mercury. The Charleston Courier advocated secession in 1860 but counseled moderation during the Civil War. The newspaper was seized by William T. Sherman’s army at the close of the war and was briefly published by two Union war correspondents. In November 1865 control of the paper was turned over to Charleston native Thomas Y. Simons under the auspices of A. S. Willington & Co.
The Charleston Daily News was the second ancestor of the Post and Courier. James W. McMillian of Charleston and two other partners started the newspaper on August 14, 1865, and it was sold to Bartholomew R. Riordan, Francis Warrington Dawson, and Henry Evans two years later. Although Evans soon dropped out, Riordan and Dawson remained connected to the newspaper. On April 3, 1873, they purchased the Courier, and the first issue of the News and Courier was published on April 7, 1873. Robert Lathan became editor of the News and Courier in 1910. Fourteen years later he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his editorial “The Plight of the South.”
The third newspaper in the Post and Courier’s lineage, the Evening Post, was founded by a group headed by Hartwell M. Ayer on October 1, 1894. It established itself as a newspaper opposed to Ben Tillman and his political followers. The newspaper was purchased by the News and Courier in 1926.
The Evening Post and the News and Courier continued to publish separately through most of the twentieth century. The newspapers also expanded, with the News and Courier climbing to third in circulation among South Carolina’s daily newspapers under the editorship of William Watts Ball in the 1930s and 1940s. After World War II, the company spent millions on a new plant and then millions more on expanding it. In the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo in September 1989, the newspaper published a single daily issue and powered its plants for four days with generators.
Flagging circulation at the Evening Post led the two newspapers to combine their staffs in the 1980s. The papers formally merged on October 1, 1991, as the Post and Courier, a morning newspaper. The Post and Courier is part of the Evening Post Publishing Company, which operates several newspapers in the lowcountry as well as papers in Kingstree, Aiken, North Carolina, Texas, and Argentina. The company also operates television stations in Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, and Texas.
McNeely, Patricia G. The Palmetto Press: The History of South Carolina’s Newspapers and the Press Association. Columbia: South Carolina Press Association, 1998.
Sass, Herbert Ravenel. Outspoken: 150 Years of the News and Courier. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1953.