True American

Orleans Parish

The True American was a nativist or Know-Nothing newspaper founded in 1835 at a time of growing tension over immigration, slavery, and states’ rights. By 1837, the four-page daily had become the organ of the Louisiana Native American Association. It was edited by John Gibson (d. 1847).

Nicknamed “the Faithful and Bold,” Gibson had previously edited the New-Orleans Argus and Louisiana Weekly Advertiser. He appears to have left the latter paper because of a disagreement over immigration, which, as editor of the True American, he denounced, feeling that immigrants’ true alliance was to their home country. For this reason, Gibson urged readers not to vote immigrants into political office and encouraged reform of naturalization laws. However, he also supported religious freedom for both Catholics and Protestants.

Politically, the True American was a Whig paper which nevertheless sympathized with the radical Democrats’ stringent opposition to a national bank. It was one of New Orleans’s main sources of information about the Panic of 1837. During the Texas Revolution, Gibson supported Texan independence and reported on the war daily. Other political perspectives offered included support for slavery but also humane treatment of Indians in the western territories. The True American carried the proceedings of various district and parish courts, news of ships arriving and leaving the port of New Orleans, information on Louisiana elections and politics, birth and marriage announcements, and obituaries. Gibson was an avid supporter of the New Orleans theatre and scorned those who criticized it on moral grounds.

In July 1839, the True American began reporting on the trial of editor John Gibson for alleged libel. Gibson replaced his standard motto, “Faithful and Bold,” with a new one, “Truth no Libel,” in each of his daily editorials throughout the course of the trial. Ultimately, the suit was dropped.

The last known extant issue of the True American is dated November 27, 1840. Gibson died in 1847 in Tampico, Mexico, where he was editing the Tampico Sentinel, one of several American newspapers published in Mexico during the Mexican-American War.