Years in print:
The first issue was made May 23d, 1819, less than one year after the State was admitted to the Union. In form it was a five column folio neatly printed and ably edited. Few if any newspapers were ever established in the west that at once took a more prominent position, or, in so short a time, commanded and wielded a greater influence than the Spectator. It was, in its day, the most potential newspaper west of the Allegheny mountains.
In looking through volumes one, two three and four, we judge that the paper was a success, financially, provided its patrons paid up promptly. About one-half of the paper was taken up with home and foreign advertisements. Some of the local "Ads." are unique and, at the present day, would appear quite odd. For example: A druggist in Edwardsville advertises a large stock of "Elegant Medicines," and calls particular attention to his "Castor Oil which is a real pleasure to take."
The Spectator made its appearance before the days of railroads and telegraph, consequently news from Washington or even from the seat of State government was from ten days to three or four weeks in reaching Edwardsville, but it was news nevertheless. In the meantime the columns of the newspaper were much occupied by essays on every conceivable subject in which, generally, no one had any interest, except the writer. This was especially the case in "off" years when there was no political excitement or elections. In times of great political excitement, or in presidential campaigns, the editorials were exceedingly lengthy and of a ponderous character, though usually possessing literary merit. As news became the dominant idea of the newspapers the heavy leaders were dropped, and paragraphing became popular. Mr. [Hooper] Warren, editor and founder of the Spectator, was a practical printer. He worked at the "case" in the office of the Missouri Gazette, and while there set up and published, under an assumed name, a series of articles upon public and political questions affecting the weal of the State which attracted the notice of the leading statesmen of Missouri, and called forth replies from Thomas H. Benton and others of equal reputation and ability. All with singular unanimity agreed in attributing the authorship to men in high position in the State. The articles in question were evidences of the writer's profound knowledge of the subject and were written in that bold vigorous style that carried weight and conviction to the reader.
When Mr. Warren established his printing office in Edwardsville he was fortunate in securing the services of George Churchill, who was a practical printer and a writer of well-known ability, and who subsequently became one of the prominent men of the State. These gentlemen edited and "set-up" the paper the first year. The Missouri Compromise was then the great absorbing and leading political question, and in its discussion they dealt heavy blows against the institution of slavery and its acquisition of new territory. After the first year, when the Spectator was firmly established, Mr. Warren conducted the paper alone or at least assumed its entire management and editorial control.
As before stated, he was a bold, able and aggressive writer. His editorials were never written upon paper, but standing at the "case" he would compose and at the same time put them in type. In the Convention times of 1824 he took a bold and manly stand and did much to defeat the schemes of the slavery party who sought to make Illinois a Slave State. In 1825 he sold the Spectator to Thomas Lippencott and Jeremiah Abbott, the former editor and the latter printer. ..In order to understand the position of the paper at that time it is necessary to state that the leading question which then agitated the public mind of the State was whether a convention should be called the object of which was to change the constitution so as to admit and legalize slavery. Upon this question the people were divided. The leaders of the dominant party in the State with few exceptions were in favor of the Convention, and many able and plausible reasons were put forth by them in justification of their position and in proof of its great advantage and benefit to the commonwealth...Opposed to the Convention were those who said, God helping them, the State of Illinois should never be polluted and cursed by that monster sin and crowning evil of the century, slavery...
The history of the Spectator would be incomplete without a short sketch of Messrs. Warren and Chruchill, its editors, and the pioneer printers of the west. Hooper Warren was a native of New Hampshnire, born in 1790, and while yet in his infancy the family moved to Vermont. While still a youth he apprenticed to the printing trade in the office of the Rutland Herald, Vermont...In 1818 he came to St. Louis and worked at the case. In March, 1819, he came to Edwardsville, Madison county, Ill., and in May founded the Edwardsville Spectator, and continued its editor and publisher for six years. In his salutatory to the public he avowed his anti-slavery principles, and ever after remained true to them...After he sold his paper Mr. Warren went to Cincinnati, Ohio, and there edited the National Crisis. One year later he returned to Edwardsville when from some cause unknown to the writer the office of the Spectator fell back into his possession. He removed the type and material to Springfield, Illinois...
George Churchill, the co-worker and partner of Hooper Warren in the publication of the Spectator when first established, was born at Hubbardtown, Rutland county, Vermont, October 11th, 1789...As he grew to manhood he imbibed a taste for literary work, which induced him to learn the printer's trade...In June, 1817, he came to St. Louis, and while there made frequent trips across the river to Illinois...In the spring of 1819 he worked in the office of the Missouri Gazette in St. Louis, then conducted by Joseph Charless...After Mr. Warren started the Spectator in Edwardsville, Mr. Churchill aceeded to the former's request and assisted him in getting a start. He remained with him one year...
Thomas Lippencott, the purchaser of the Spectator, continued the publication of the paper until 1827, when he entered the Presbyterian ministry.
(From The History of Madison County, W.R. Brink & Co., 1882)
The third Illinois newspaper - and, in 1823-24, the strongest and most influential opponent of the scheme for establishing slavery in Illinois - was The Edwardsville Spectator, which began publication at Edwardsville, Madison County, May 23, 1819. Hooper Warren was the publisher and responsible editor, though he received valuable aid from the pens of Governor Coles, George Churchill, Rev. Thomas Lippencott, Judge Samuel D. Lockwood, Morris Birkbeck and others. Warren sold The Spectator to Rev. Thomas Lippencott in 1825.
(From the Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois edited by Newton Bateman and Paul Selby, 1907).