Jan. 8, 1825: Having set up shop on the southeast corner of Bridge and Water streets in downtown Augusta, Russell Eaton (1800-1888) and Luther Severance (1797-1855) publish the first issue of the Kennebec Journal, which begins as a weekly newspaper. They were recruited for the job while working as printers in Washington, D.C.

In a front-page column introducing the newspaper, the partners state: “It may, we fear with too much truth, be urged that there are already a sufficient number of political publications in this state; but by an increase the public cannot suffer. Competition, in this as in all other cases, stimulates to exertion.”

The debut issue appears less than five years after Maine achieved statehood, but before Augusta became the state capital. Among other things reported in the first issue is the result of the 1824 presidential election, won by John Quincy Adams.

Russell leaves the paper in 1833 and later buys the Winthrop-based Maine Farmer newspaper and moves it to Augusta, where it remains in business for another eight decades. Severance stays with the Kennebec Journal until 1850, when he is appointed U.S. commissioner to the Kingdom of Hawaii. During his tenure at the Kennebec Journal, he also serves terms in the Maine House of Representatives, the Maine Senate and the U.S. House.

Despite their divergent careers, the paper’s two founders are buried literally a stone’s throw apart in Augusta’s Forest Grove Cemetery.

The newspaper, later owned briefly by future U.S. House Speaker and 1884 Republican presidential nominee James G. Blaine, becomes a daily in 1870. Today it is Maine’s oldest newspaper still in publication.

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