Andrew Marschalk, called the Father of Mississippi Journalism for his pioneering newspaper work in early nineteenth-century Natchez, was born on 4 February 1767 in New York City to Andrew Marschalk, a baker, and his wife, Anna Hardenbroeck Marschalk. The first Marschalks had come to New York about 1700. Andrew Marschalk grew up among New York’s Dutch community and witnessed a naval bombardment of New York City and the furious activity associated with the preparation of the city’s defenses prior to its abandonment to the British. He fought in the American Revolution at age fourteen.
Marschalk began his education in the printing trade as an apprentice in New York but ran away in 1787. He lived in England for part of the 1780s and seems to have continued work in the printing trade: he brought a press with him when he returned to the United States in 1790. For most of the 1790s Marschalk served in the US military on the frontier under the commands of Anthony Wayne and Arthur St. Clair. Marschalk also acted as quartermaster at at Fort Jefferson near present-day Greenville, Ohio.
In 1798, while stationed at Walnut Hills (later Vicksburg), Marschalk printed “The Galley Slave,” a poem that became the first work printed in Mississippi. The following year, Winthrop Sargent, the governor of the newly formed Mississippi Territory, encouraged Marschalk to print the territorial laws. Marschalk printed some of this work in Natchez, and after finishing his military service, he returned to the city and started the Mississippi Herald in 1802. Three other newspapers had begun publishing during the interim, and Marschalk’s paper merged with the Mississippi Gazette to become the Mississippi Herald and Natchez Gazette, which lasted until 1808. Marschalk published newspapers in Natchez and nearby Washington almost continuously until 1833, and he aided in establishing newspapers in Woodville and Port Gibson.
Marschalk supported the Jeffersonian Democrats in the early decades of the century and the Jacksonian Democrats in the 1820s. The nature of partisan journalism in the Mississippi Territory led to conflict and violence, and Marschalk seldom shrank from controversy. In one famous incident, territorial judge George Poindexter chased Marschalk into his printing shop and beat him for an article that appeared in the Washington Republican, which Marschalk edited from 1813 to 1815. Marschalk subsequently operated the Mississippi State Gazette (1818–25), the Natchez Gazette (1825–27, 1830–32), and the Mississippi Statesman and Natchez Gazette (1827–29).
In 1797 Marschalk married Susannah McDonald, who died in 1814. His second marriage, to Sydney Johnson, lasted from 1817 to his death in Natchez on 8 August 1838. Several of his sons followed in his footsteps, starting newspapers in Port Gibson, Natchez, and Macon.
- Palmdale, CaliforniaJournal of Mississippi History 2 (April 1940).
- Dunbar Rowland, History of Mississippi: Heart of the South, vol. 2, L–Z (1925).
- Charles S. Sydnor, Journal of Southern History (February 1935).