Back to the Seventies: The 1870s Through the Eyes of Two Country Newspapers


This compendium of newspaper articles, taken from two local Leesburg, Loudoun County, Virginia, newspapers (The Washingtonian and The Mirror), offers a different sort of look at this period in our nation’s history. Major news is covered, but more importantly, one gets a feel for the culture of the times through a description of the local happenings, opinion, humor and advertisements of those years following the Civil War. This first-generation material is copied directly from the microfilm but is cleaned up for easy reading. The articles move in a rough chronological manner. The ads are all from the decade of the 1870’s but they do not necessarily accompany the news items on the same page.

In the wake of the Civil War and the federal burning raids of 1864, there was likely some animosity towards the Union in Loudoun County, Virginia. Reconstruction was being completed and in 1876, troops were removed from the Deep South. However, Loudoun had several enclaves of Union sentiment so the citizens of Loudoun County probably adjusted better than most. Even in the face of a long-lasting economic downturn which began in 1873, Indian problems in the west, the contentious Hayes-Tilden election for 1876 and its extraordinary settlement, and an increase in labor and racial strife towards the end of the decade — still the county progressed. And, in the author’s opinion, the benevolent and intelligent influence of the local press had a lot to do with it.

The problem for the historian is that an overemphasis on dramatic events and personages presents a skewed picture of the past. Much of written history is devoted to powerful iconic leaders, cataclysmic disasters, great political movements, wars, sensational crimes, magnificent achievements, etc.; the average citizen is often forgotten. Like today, “little people” and their conventional lives should be recognized. After all, they vastly outnumber the “celebrates” of the time. One goal of this book is to recognize this aspect.

Jerry Michael

2017, 8½x11, paper, 310 pp.

ISBN: 9780788457777