Historical Marker for First Long Island Newspaper Unveiled in Sag Harbor

A historical marker honoring the publisher of Long Island’s first newspaper was unveiled in Sag Harbor on Wednesday, June 6.

The marker commemorates David Frothingham, who published Frothingham’s Long-Island Herald from 1791 to 1796.

The marker on Main Street is sponsored by the Press Club of Long Island, which collaborated with the Sag Harbor Historical Society on the project. The marker was installed in front of the property where Frothingham published the weekly newspaper. 

“This was another proud moment for the Press Club of Long Island,” said Chris R. Vaccaro, President of the Press Club. “We continue to honor places of significance in journalism history on Long Island and there is no better location than the first newspaper known to our area.”

Jack Youngs, president of the historical society, said, “To have the first newspaper that was printed on Long Island is what many locals proudly say is ‘A Feather in Our Cap.’ We had a newspaper eight years before Brooklyn.“

David Frothingham married Nancy Pell, a descendent of the prominent Pell family of Westchester. Several years later Frothingham became entangled in a claim of slander by Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. The claim under the terms of the Alien and Sedition Acts stemmed from an article published in a Brooklyn newspaper, the Argus.  Frothingham was found guilty and a fine of $100 was imposed, which a friend of his from Bridgehampton paid. 

A bond of $2,500 was set by the court to make sure he would never publish anything that could be considered libelous in the future. His inability to pay the bond resulted in him becoming a seaman to earn the money. No one knows the real story of his demise, but it is thought that he took ill off the coast of Africa and died. He was survived by his wife Nancy and daughter, Fanny, who would become Jack Youngs’ great-great grandmother.

In the last three years, PCLI has has arranged the installation of historical markers in Huntington, where Walt Whitman founded The Long-Islander; in Hempstead, where Newsday was first published, and Roslyn Harbor, where William Cullen Bryant, the poet and editor of the New York Post lived.

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