DAR to honor area newspaper pioneer

By Riley Morningstar
Courtesy The Journal

CLEMSON — A local nonprofit organization is set to honor an 18th-century newspaper pioneer later this month.

The Fort Prince George chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will host a public dedication event for a historical marker for John Miller, who emigrated to Charleston in 1783 from London and served as state printer and publisher of the first daily newspaper in South Carolina.

Miller died from the flu in November 1807, and his body is buried in the Old Stone Church Cemetery in Clemson on land he owned after then-Gov. Ben Guerard granted some 640 acres on the Eighteen Mile Creek and allowed the Hopewell Congregation to build a new sanctuary on it, according to a DAR news release. The ceremony is scheduled to happen at the cemetery at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 23.


Printing History

A lengthy DAR news release on Miller said his newspaper career began when he was just 15 in Great Britain, where he was fined and arrested at least five times for seditious libel for his criticisms of the government and King George III.

“He stuck to his convictions that everyone had a right to know what their government was doing,” the release said. “This brush with the law did not deter Miller.”

Miller learned the newspaper and printing trade in 1760 from his future father-in-law and started the London Evening Post nine years later, the release said. He reported on the First Continental Congress in 1774 and called on the British public to support the American colonists.

He eventually connected with South Carolina statesman Henry Laurens and arrived in Philadelphia in January 1783 with the intention to get into agriculture, but the DAR said Miller “couldn’t turn down the South Carolina delegates’ request to serve as the state’s first printer.”

He printed South Carolina’s laws and started the state’s first daily newspaper, called the SC Gazette and General Advertiser. In 1790, Miller was appointed to a commission to start a government for the newly formed Pendleton County with Andrew Pickens, for which Miller was unanimously chosen to serve as clerk.

In January 1807, he started Miller’s Weekly Messenger, making it the first newspaper in the region, according to the DAR.