The San Augustine Red-Lander was first published in 1838. W. W. Parker, the founding editor, purchased the printing press of the Nacogdoches Texas Chronicle from its printer, Isaac Watts Burton, and produced the paper for a little over a year before ill health forced his retirement. The paper reappeared in 1841, when its press was sold to Alanson Wyllys Canfield, who had been editor of the San Augustine Journal and Advertiser throughout the previous year. With J. A. Whittlesey and Henry W. Sublett as assistant editors and George W. Morris as printer, Canfield launched a weekly forum of national issues. His antitariff, pro-Sam Houston agenda made the Red-Lander one of the dominant political voices of the Republic of Texas, where it competed with the Telegraph and Texas Register and the Vindicator of Washington-on-the-Brazos. Canfield's paper and San Augustine wielded political influence that greatly outweighed the population, partly because of the town's location on the Old San Antonio Road; travelers and immigrants to Texas were a captive audience. For five dollars a year East Texans could receive a Red-Lander every Thursday, with the first of six pages dominated by Canfield's lengthy editorials, bawdy verse, and reprinted articles from the Boston Whig of two months previous, concerning everything from nearby Indian battles to the Queen of Spain's choice of suitor. The inside pages offered local announcements, such as developments at the University of San Augustine, or quotations from "hero, statesman, and sage" Andrew Jackson, as well as financial news from various cities.
When Charles DeMorse established the Clarksville Northern Standard in 1842, Canfield believed that it represented a conspiracy against Houston. The pages of the Red-Lander became a battleground for Canfield and DeMorse, and the argument verged on violence when DeMorse threatened to "settle the matter with cowhide." The dispute was never resolved in print, but the tension finally eased in the fall of 1843. After the annexation of Texas Canfield sold the Red-Lander to James Russell and H. M. Kinsey and joined the forces of Zachary Taylor in Corpus Christi.
The new editors were not successful with the paper. In the summer of 1846 they printed a libelous article about the sister of Henry A. Kendall, editor of the Shield, a recently founded rival newspaper in San Augustine. Kendall shot Russell outside the Red-Lander office, and the newspaper was never able to recover. San Augustine's prosperity and prominence faded in the late 1840s, and the Red-Lander was purchased by W. N. Harmon, who combined it with the Shield to form the Texas Union. This venture failed as well, and in 1851 B. F. Price and Benjamin F. Benton's Redland Herald took over the Red-Lander presses. Their product was more typical of small-town newspapers than its ambitious predecessor.