The Gazette: Pittsburgh’s First Newspaper

The Gazette is a significant piece of Pittsburgh’s history as it was the first newspaper to be published in the city. It played a vital role in shaping the local community’s identity and documenting its growth and evolution. The newspaper’s first issue was published on July 29, 1786, and it remained in circulation until 1820.

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Founding of the Gazette by Hugh Henry Brackenridge

The Gazette was founded by Hugh Henry Brackenridge, a prominent lawyer and political figure of the time. Brackenridge was born in Scotland in 1748 and immigrated to the American colonies with his family in 1753. He received his education at the College of New Jersey, now known as Princeton University, and went on to become a successful lawyer, writer, and politician, as well as one of the most notable Pittsburgh personal injury lawyers of his time.

Documenting Pittsburgh’s Growth and Development

With the aim of facilitating the exchange of information and ideas among the residents of Pittsburgh, Brackenridge founded The Gazette. The newspaper was published on a weekly basis and featured a diverse array of topics, encompassing local news, politics, business, and culture.

Dedication to the American Revolution

The Gazette was particularly noteworthy for its steadfast dedication to championing the values and tenets of the American Revolution. Brackenridge, a staunch supporter of the Revolutionary movement, utilized the newspaper as a means of advocating for the cause of American independence and the ideals of democratic governance.

Coverage of National and International Events

The Gazette also played a significant role in documenting the growth and development of Pittsburgh during the early years of its existence. The newspaper reported on the city’s economic development, including the growth of its industries, such as the iron and steel industry, and the expansion of its transportation networks, such as the construction of the Erie Canal.

The Gazette’s Importance as an Advertising Medium

In addition to its coverage of local news and politics, The Gazette also featured articles on national and international events. The newspaper reported on the debates surrounding the ratification of the United States Constitution, the French Revolution, and the ongoing conflict between Britain and its American colonies.


The Gazette was also an important medium for advertising, with local businesses using the newspaper to promote their products and services. Advertisements for goods such as books, clothing, and household items were common in the newspaper’s pages.

Controversies Surrounding the Gazette

Despite its important role in shaping the city’s identity and documenting its growth, The Gazette was not without its controversies. The newspaper’s outspoken support for the Revolutionary cause and its criticisms of the British government led to frequent clashes with the authorities.

In 1794, The Gazette published an article criticizing the federal government’s handling of the Whiskey Rebellion, a protest against a tax on distilled spirits. The article led to Brackenridge’s arrest and imprisonment for sedition, a charge that was eventually dropped.

The Gazette’s Legacy and Significance

Despite this setback, The Gazette continued to be an important part of the city’s culture and remained in circulation until 1820, when it was merged with another local newspaper.

Today, The Gazette is remembered as an important part of Pittsburgh’s history and a significant contribution to the development of American journalism. Its commitment to promoting the ideals of the American Revolution and its coverage of local news and culture played a vital role in shaping the city’s identity and documenting its growth and evolution.

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