Before the state of Maine split from Massachusetts in 1820, Portland was the home of Maine's first newspaper, the Falmouth Gazette and Weekly Advertiser. Over 40 newspapers, many political, were printed in Portland in the years between statehood and the Civil War. The Portland Daily Press was founded on June 26, 1862, 14 months after the Civil War began. It was started by experienced newspapermen, John T. Gilman, formerly of the Bath Daily Morning Times; Joseph B. Hall of the Aroostook Herald; and Newell A. Foster, formerly of the Portland Transcript. The Portland Daily Press was a simple four-page sheet. By 1870, it was owned by the Portland Publishing Company. In its inaugural issue, the paper threw its support behind the Republican Party and its principles, heartily endorsing its candidates. It vigorously endorsed abolitionism as well.
Upon the exciting question of Domestic Slavery...[the Press] will neither apologize for an evil which constitutes the foulest blot upon our national character, nor attempt to resist the tide of events that seems destined to sweep from existence an institution which is the greatest anomaly in a free government.
Along with the Portland Daily Advertiser (1848-66) and the Daily Eastern Argus (1863-1921), the Press was one of three dailies published in Portland in the 1860s. It stood out among them for its gave its "earnest, cordial and generous support to the administration of Abraham Lincoln, who in little more than one year, has indelibly impressed himself upon the nation's heart as an incorruptible patriot, and inflexible Chief Magistrate, and an honest man."
The Portland Daily Press kept its readers abreast of Civil War news and specifically how the Maine Regiments were faring. It served as the local paper of record, carrying marriages, deaths, public notices, court news, letters to the editor, as well as market and commercial news, all for $5.00 per annum. The Press also gave extra attention to maritime news and printed lists of ships in port. It claimed a large share of the advertising revenue thanks to advertisements with intricate graphics and its promise to publish ads in both its daily and its weekly edition, the Maine State Press (1863- 191x).
The Portland Daily Press employed correspondents to report news from towns and cities across Maine, and even received daily telegraphs from around the country covering national and world news. With the end of the Civil War, the Press supported war hero, Joshua Chamberlain for Governor. On July 4, 1866 the city of Portland suffered what was called "The Great Fire." The Press was unable to publish the paper on July 5, but on the following day it printed an abbreviated two-page version which continued until July 18 when it resumed a four-page spread.
Its weekly edition, the Maine State Press, circulated throughout the state and competed with the Weekly Eastern Argus (1863-1921) and the Portland Weekly Advertiser (1869-1903). The Maine State Press cost $1.50 per annum and included political, agricultural, literary and miscellaneous other materials appropriate for the family. In 1892, the Portland Daily Press was enlarged from four to eight sheets. It also carried supplements of the Maine Law and special editions such as a 28-page supplement on June 6, 1896 called The Pine-Tree State Edition which featured portraits of important political figures, architecture, and news of Maine's industries. In 1904, Maine Republicans Henry B. Cleaves and gubernatorial candidate Joseph Homan Manley, whom the paper had previously opposed,bought the Portland Daily Press. Later in 1921, U.S. Senator Frederick Hale, who came to own the paper, merged the Portland Daily Press with the Portland Herald to form the Portland Press Herald. The latter was sold to the young Guy P. Gannett. The Gannett family retained the paper until it was sold in 2009.