HARRIS, ELI (?–?). Eli Harris, early newspaper publisher and member of the Long expedition, was born in North Carolina. From 1808 to 1809 he was a printer with the Athens, Georgia, Express; in 1810 he was with the Richmond, Kentucky, Globe, and by 1816 he was working in the offices of the McMinnville, Tennessee, Mountain Echo. During the intervening years he worked for papers in Franklin, Tennessee, and Lexington, Kentucky. In 1819 Harris was in Natchez, Mississippi, where he joined James Long in his expedition and led an advance force of 120 men, which crossed the Sabine on June 8, 1819, and arrived at Nacogdoches on June 21. There he set up a press and, on August 14, 1819, published the first edition of the Nacogdoches Texas Republican. No copy of the paper is known to have survived, but the St. Louis Enquirer noted that the content was "principally occupied with the military and political operations going on in that quarter." The paper, a weekly, appeared twice in August and possibly a few times in September and then ceased publication. After United States government officials confiscated their supply barge, the several hundred men of Long's filibustering expedition were left without provisions. Harris and most of his company left Nacogdoches to forage off the land, abandoning the printing press. They eventually made their way to the Galveston area, where they remained for a year, hunting and trading to sustain themselves. After Jean Laffite was ordered off Galveston Island, Harris and the remaining expedition members returned to the United States. Harris moved to Alexandria, Louisiana, and later settled in Ouachita Parish, where he married and became parish judge. In 1835 the governor appointed him notary on Lake Providence, Carroll Parish. In 1841 he wrote to Mirabeau B. Lamar from there, claiming that he had originated the single-star emblem and flag (see FLAGS).
Eugene C. Barker, "Notes on Early Texas Newspapers," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 21 (October 1917). Clarence S. Brigham, "From the Texas Republican," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 51 (April 1948). Charles Adams Gulick, Jr., Harriet Smither, et al., eds., The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (6 vols., Austin: Texas State Library, 1920–27; rpt., Austin: Pemberton Press, 1968). Douglas C. McMurtrie, "The First Texas Newspaper," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 36 (July 1932). Douglas C. McMurtrie, "Pioneer Printing in Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 35 (January 1932). Marilyn M. Sibley, Lone Stars and State Gazettes: Texas Newspapers before the Civil War (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1983). E. W. Winkler, "Note on the Texas Republican," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 7 (January 1904). E. W. Winkler, "The Texas Republican," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 16 (January 1913).
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