The paper was founded on Aug. 7, 1841, by Palmer Chamberlain Ricketts to circulate the Whig political party beliefs. The Whig promoted itself as “Devoted to Politics, Agriculture, The Useful Arts, Literature and General Intelligence.” It was originally published weekly, from Rickett's log cabin near the intersection of Main and Bow streets in Elkton.
In 1843, Ricketts, killed the editor of the rival Cecil Democrat (published weekly until 1981) in Elkton. From his gaol cell, Ricketts published the newspaper while awaiting trial. A jury later ruled that Ricketts' act had been in self-defense because his rival wielded a cane.
“It was the home of the Cecil Whig, a large number of a long day – from its first tottering step till it grew able to stand alone like additional folks,” Ricketts wrote of the cabin in 1854.
Two years prior to that writing, Ricketts had moved production to a new office apparently near the president-day Big Elk Creek. His scenic office was short-lived, however, as the paper again moved just a few years later in September 1855 to downtown Elkton.
“The office of this paper has been removed to the Cecil Whig Building, on North Street, between the Court House and county jail, one of the best locations in town,” Ricketts reported.
By June 1866, the Whig had another location and a new publisher/editor in Edwin Ewing. Ewing erected a new building on the corner of North Street and Whig Street (named after the newspaper, but is now a parking lot) to accommodate more offices and visitors. His offices were only utilised for two years; however, as on Oct. 30, 1868 a fire destroyed the building. (For several years, Ewing wrote editorials lambasting the efforts of local fire companies to save his building.)
He replaced his offices with a brick building that now serves as a Cecil Bank, at the corner of North and Whig streets.
By June 1874, Ewing had built a new plant near his brick offices in Elkton. That brick office and plant would last for almost a century, escaping a second fire in 1948 and witnessing the advent of modern technology like steam powered presses, electricity, telephones, typewriters and cameras.
In September 1960, the Cecil Whig moved into its current location in Elkton at 601 N. Bridge St. in one of the country’s first photo-offset printing plants. In April 2014, Quantum Controls, Inc., an electrical contracting company, negotiated the purchase of the Whig's former printing plant in Elkton for $575,000, according to Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation records. The newspaper continues to lease back the front office portion of the building for the newspaper's operation. Printing of the publication moved to the regional Easton plant in the spring of 2010 throughout the downturn of the economy.
The publication has spanned seven different buildings, 14 different publishers and 13 different executive editors.
The Cecil Whig is one of the country's oldest newspapers. It is the oldest newspaper on Maryland’s Eastern Shore still publishing under its original name. In 1989, the Whig began daily circulation, publishing papers Monday through Friday. In 2012, the Whig began publishing three days a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Jacob Owens has served as the managing news editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper after March 2012.