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This Day (Blasphemous Edition)




On this day in 1751, the printer William Hunter published his first Virginia Gazette.* Born in Yorktown, Hunter apprenticed to Virginia’s first public printer, William Parks, and upon the latter’s death in 1750, took over the position at a higher salary. He lasted ten years, and when he wasn’t printing something nice about the governor and General Assembly, he was serving, with his buddy Benjamin Franklin, as deputy postmaster general for the colonies.
Say happy birthday to Flora Cooke, who was born on this day in 1836, at Jefferson Barracks outside St. Louis. Her father, Philip St. George Cooke, was a cavalryman, as was, more famously, her future husband, J. E. B. Stuart. After the war, Mrs. General Stuart became principal of the Virginia Female Institute in Staunton, what is today named Stuart Hall in her honor.
Not quite a hundred years later, on this day in 1931, Staige Blackford was born in Charlottesville. At the University of Virginia he was president of the Raven Society, dedicated to the memory of Edgar Allan Poe, Then, after a stint in the CIA, a job at Time, and a few years as press secretary to Governor A. Linwood Holton, Blackford returned home in 1975 to edit the Virginia Quarterly Review, a position he kept until his death in an automobile accident 28 years later.
Finally, on this day in 1993, Leslie Larkin Byrne took her seat in the United States House of Representatives. No big deal, right? Except that she was the first woman ever elected to Congress from Virginia. (It took that long?!?) “Making history, making sense” was one of Byrne’s slogans, but by November of ’94, her constituents had already decided that history was overrated.
Blasphemy!
*That particular issue is no longer extant, but here you can look at Number 2, and above you can see the top of Number 4, published a few weeks later.
IMAGES: Top: The Washington Post, page C12, November 5, 1992; middle: Flora Cooke Stuart (Virginia Historical Society); Staige Blackford (center) is initiated into the Raven Society at the University of Virginia in 1952 (University of Virginia Special Collections); bottom: The Virginia Gazette, January 24, 1750/51

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