Tag Archives: Benjamin Harrison

The Evansville Daily Journal

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The Evansville Daily Journal of Vanderburgh County was established in 1834 by William Town but did not appear as a daily until 1848, a year after Evansville was recognized by official charter as a city of Indiana. Town relocated to Evansville from the east and worked as both a grammar school teacher and printer. In March 1834, he disseminated the first issue of the Evansville Journal and General Advertiser, which was a pro-Whig (later Republican) paper. He remained the newspaper’s owner until his death in 1839.

William H. and John J. Chandler became the joint owners and editors of the paper in 1839. Under their management the paper was published as the Evansville Journal and Vanderburgh Advertiser. The title was eventually shortened to Evansville Journal. A year later John left the paper and his brother William became the sole owner, publishing the paper under the firm name of WM. H. Chandler & Company. William Chandler debuted the Tri-weekly Journal in 1846 and the Evansville Daily Journal in 1848.

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The Evansville Daily Journal endorsed Whig Party candidate Zachary Taylor in the 1848 presidential election. Taylor was nicknamed “Old Rough and Ready” for his victories in the Black Hawk War and Second Seminole War. He died in office on July 9, 1850.

In 1848, Addison H. Sanders purchased the Journal from William Chandler. Sanders oversaw the increased circulation of the Journal throughout southwestern Indiana between 1849 and 1856. He focused on improving the city department portion of the newspaper. The expansion of the paper paralleled the economic growth of Evansville during the 1850s, when the population of the city grew to 4,700. White newcomers were attracted to jobs with railroad firms, saw mills, and factories. Free blacks living in Evansville (about a hundred) also held both skilled and blue-collar jobs despite being barred from coming into Indiana in 1851 by Article XIII of the state constitution.

In October 1856, the Journal passed to Francis Y. Carlile. By April 30, 1858, Carlile had partnered with Indiana printers Frank M. Thayer and John Henderson McNeely. They formed the Evansville Journal Company (later Evansville Journal-News Company) and started to publish the paper under the name of that firm. Among the improvements the new proprietors made to the newspaper office was the installation of a steam engine and power press. Before more improvements could be made the newspaper office was destroyed in a fire. Its proprietors immediately arranged for the Journal to be printed from another newspaper office until it could be relocated. The company ultimately purchased a building located on Fifth Street between Main and Sycamore.

Carlile left the Journal in November 1859, selling his interests to James H. McNeely. By 1860, Evansville was the third largest city in Indiana behind Indianapolis and New Albany with a population of 11,484. Under the maintenance of the McNeely brothers and Thayer the Journal advocated for the election of Abraham Lincoln for president and unflaggingly supported the Union side during the Civil War.

Excerpt from a letter written by a soldier in the 17th Indiana Regiment, Napoleon B. Risinger, published in the Journal on September 17, 1861.
Excerpt from a letter written by Napoleon B. Risinger, a soldier in the 17th Indiana Regiment, which was published in the Journal on September 17, 1861.

John W. Foster purchased the interest of James McNeely and replaced him as partner in June 1866. Edward Tabor, a former bookkeeper for the paper, subsequently joined Frank M. Thayer, John McNeely, and John W. Foster as a partner in the Evansville Journal Company. In 1869, the Journal reported a circulation of 2,000 for its 8-page daily issues and 5,000 for its weekly issues.

Claude G. DeBruler purchased Foster’s interest and replaced him as partner in November 1872. Thayer left the Journal in 1883. James McNeely purchased DeBruler’s interest in 1885 although he had been listed in the newspaper as a proprietor since 1883. Following the departures of Thayer and DeBruler as well as Tabor’s death, the McNeelys became the joint owners of the Journal in March 1885. By 1889, James McNeely was editor-in-chief while his brother John fulfilled the role of river editor. Jessie McDonald (later Mrs. William Torrance) eventually oversaw the society department of the newspaper.

The Journal published a “Colored News” column in or near the want ads section between the early 1890s and 1909. The column had a black editor and covered goings-on in the black community such as church events as well as illnesses and funerals. Outside of the short, segregated column the newspaper’s derogatory tone towards blacks reflected the intense racial bigotry that affected the city’s black population, which at 7,405 approximated that of Cleveland, Ohio.

During the McNeely brothers’ maintenance of the Evansville Journal-News Company the circulation of the Journal grew to 9,844 for daily and Sunday issues, which were 8 and 16 pages respectively, by 1900. That was more than the Evansville Courier the Journal’s pro-Democratic competitor, which had a circulation of 8,555 for dailies 10-20 pages and Sunday issues 24-36 pages, in the same year. By 1920, the Journal had a circulation of 15,765 for week-days and 12,232 for Sunday issues. The Courier surpassed the Journal that year with a circulation of 23,893 for week-days and 20,978 for Sunday issues.

In 1923, the McNeely brothers sold the Journal to the Evansville Courier Company. The Courier office published its Sunday edition together with the Evansville Journal as the Sunday Courier and Journal between June 24, 1923 and 1936. The Evansville Courier Company suspended the Evansville Journal in November 1936. The newspaper’s masthead displayed slightly different titles over the course of its run including the Evansville Daily Journal, Daily Evansville Journal, Evansville Journal, Daily Journal, and the Evansville Journal-News. A former city editor at the Journal during the 1880’s characterized the paper as “a power in the republican party of the state” that supported the elections of several Republican candidates for state and federal offices including Benjamin Harrison (Senator from Indiana 1881-1887; President 1889-1893) and Charles Warren Fairbanks (Senator from Indiana 1897-1905; Vice President 1905-1909).

Books:

Bigham, Darrel E. We Ask Only A Fair Trial: A History of The Black Community of Evansville, Indiana. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1987. Published in association with the University of Southern Indiana.

Bigham, Darrel E. An Evansville Album: Perspectives on a River City, 1812-1988. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1988.

Esarey, Logan. History of Indiana from its exploration to 1922. Rochester, Indiana: Tombaugh Publising House, 1981.

History of Vanderburgh County, Indiana, From the Earliest Times to the Present, With Biographical Sketches, Reminiscences, Etc. Madison, Wisconsin: Brant & Fuller, 1889.

Iglehart, John E., ed. An Account of Vanderburgh County from its organization. Dayton, Ohio: Dayton Historical Publishing Company, 1923.

Patry, Robert P. City of the Four Freedoms: A History of Evansville, Indiana. Evansville: Friends of Willard Library, 1996.

Thornbrough, Emma Lou. “African-Americans.” In The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, ed. David J. Bodenhamer and Robert G. Barrows, 5-14. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994. 

Census Record:

U.S. Bureau of the Census. “Population of the 100 Largest Urban Places: 1860.” Internet Release date June 15, 1998. https://www.census.gov/population/www/documentation/twps0027/tab09.txt .

Clipping File:

Evansville—Vanderburgh County. Newspaper histories. Library Development Office, Indiana State Library, 315 W Ohio St, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

Directories:

Geo. P. Rowell and Company’s American Newspaper Directory. New York: Geo. P. Rowell & Co., Publishers & Newspaper Advertising Agents, 1869.

Geo. P. Rowell’s American Newspaper Directory. New York: The Printer’s INR Publishing Company, 1909.

N.W. Ayer & Son’s American Newspaper Annual and Directory: A Catalogue of American Newspapers. Philadelphia: N.W. Ayer and Son, 1920.

Today in Indiana History: Wendell Willkie Accepted Republican Nomination for President

August 17, 1940  – Wendell Willkie accepted the Republican nomination to run for President in his hometown of Elwood, Indiana. Over 260,000 were in the crowd.  Willkie became the fourth Hoosier resident to receive a party nomination for President.  Indiana’s other presidential nominees included Benjamin Harrison (Republican, 1888), Eugene V. Debs (Socialist, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1920), and Frank J. Hanly (Prohibition, 1916).  Willkie lost the 1940 election to incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Willkie received 44.8% of the popular vote, but only won 82 electoral votes to FDR’s 449.  Read about Willkie accepting the nomination in the Hammond Times.

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Today in Indiana History: Benjamin Harrison Nominated for President

Indianapolis Journal, June 26, 1888. Hoosier State Chronicles.

On June 25, 1888, the Republican National Convention in Chicago nominated Indiana resident Benjamin Harrison for president.  You can read a contemporary newspaper account about the convention in the Republican supporting Indianapolis Journal.  Or if you want a different perspective you can read about it in the Democratic supporting Indiana State Sentinel.

A Brief History of the Indianapolis Journal

Indianapolis Journal, March 1, 1895. Hoosier State Chronicles.

Access 32 years of the Indianapolis Journal (1872-04)!

In 1825, Indiana state printer John Douglass relocated with the state capital from Corydon to Indianapolis, then a town with less than 1,000 residents.  Douglass had previously published the short-lived Madison (IN) Western Clarion, and upon arriving in Indianapolis purchased a share of the Western Censor and Emigrants Guide.  Douglass and his partner, Douglass Maguire, changed the name to the Indiana Journal, and produced their first issue on January 11, 1825.  The anti-Jacksonian publishers advocated for government sponsored internal improvements and protective tariffs that would aid Indiana’s agricultural economy.  These political positions led the Journal to align with the emerging Whig Party in the 1830s.

Beginning in 1839 the publishers increased and varied the Journal’s publication frequency based upon when the Indiana General Assembly convened; what had hitherto been a weekly edition, became semi-weekly, tri-weekly, and daily at different times from 1839-1851 to accommodate more state legislative news.  In 1840, Douglass and his new partner, Samuel V. B. Noel, also issued a campaign newspaper, the Spirit of ’76, which supported former Indiana Territorial Governor William Henry Harrison’s Whig candidacy for President of the United States.  After eighteen years operating the Journal, Douglass sold his interest to Noel in 1843.  Noel only maintained sole ownership of the paper for two years, but during that time he changed the name of the paper to the Indiana State Journal, and he allowed Henry Ward Beecher to edit and issue the Indiana Farmer from the Journal’s presses.

John D. Defrees, former publisher of the Northwestern Pioneer and St. Joseph Intelligencer in South Bend, acquired the Journal in 1845 and operated it until 1854.  Defrees continued the Journal as a Whig organ, and the paper’s editorials criticizing the Democratic administration’s conduct of the Mexican-American War echoed Whig rhetoric heard around the country.  Defrees’s use of the Journal to spread Whig ideas made him an important Indiana political voice, and when the Whig Party collapsed in the early 1850s Defrees became an important leader in the fusionist movement that established the Republican Party in Indiana.  Defrees also made several important changes to the Journal and Indiana journalism.  He installed the city’s first steam driven printing press, expanded the page format from four to six columns, and introduced better quality illustrations.  Defrees also conducted a fierce rivalry with the Democratic Indiana State Sentinel, and introduced Indianapolis’s first permanent daily, the Daily Indiana State Journal, one week before the Sentinel’s daily premiered in April 1851.  The daily edition’s title changed to Indianapolis Morning Journal in 1853, the Indianapolis Daily Journal in 1854, and simply the Indianapolis Journal in 1867.  The fledgling Indianapolis Locomotive, the brain-child of some Journal apprentices in 1845, demonstrated the reading public’s appetite for more local and society news.  The Journal’s daily production schedule created room for local stories, and next day reporting.

One of the most important nineteenth-century Indiana journalists, Berry R. Sulgrove, joined the Journal in 1854 as editor.  Sulgrove also wrote much local news copy.  He acquired controlling interest in the Journal by 1856, and transitioned the Journal from Whig into the Republican camp.  During the Civil War, Sulgrove penned strong Unionist editorials that supported the policies of President Abraham Lincoln and Governor Oliver P. Morton.  During the war, the Journal’s daily circulation reached 6,000; for comparison the city’s pre-war population was 18,611.

Indiana had a bustling literary scene in the late 1800s, which was due in part to the Journal’s managing editor Elijah W. Halford’s advocacy and support of Hoosier authors.  James Whitcomb Riley, the “Hoosier Poet,” greatly benefitted from Halford’s patronage.  Riley published hundreds of poems and humor pieces in the Journal from 1877-1901, and also worked as a Journal reporter for few years.

In 1880, John C. New became Indiana’s Republican Party Chairman, and purchased the Journal.  New’s greatest success as a political operative and a newspaper publisher was his advocacy of Benjamin Harrison for the Republican presidential nomination in 1888.  New first suggested Harrison for president in 1884, and redoubled his efforts in 1888.  He avidly promoted Harrison’s candidacy in Journal editorials, and distributed thousands of Journal issues among delegates at the Republican National Convention that subsequently nominated Harrison.  The Journal’s role in Harrison’s nomination and subsequent election to the presidency elevated the newspaper’s national profile.

The increased profile, however, did not translate to better sales.  In 1890, the Journal’s daily circulation of 8,263 was paltry compared to its competitors the Indianapolis News with 21,468 and the Sentinel with 15,800.  In the late 1890s the Journal faced even more competition from yellow journalism that used sensational headlines to drive sales.  The ever respectable Journal editors explained, “The Journal refuses to put itself on a level with the cheap papers flooding the country, and therefore appeals only to that class of reading public which wants the news presented in a decent and dignified manner.”  The Journal managed to boost its daily circulation to a high in 1901 with 22,320, but in a city of 170,000 the News remained the leader with almost 50,000 daily issues in circulation.  Three years later in June 1904, George McCulloch, publisher of the recently established Indianapolis Morning Star, purchased the Journal.  McCulloch issued the paper as the Indianapolis Morning Star and Journal until October 26, 1904 when he dropped Journal from the title.

Bibliography

Irby, Harold F. “A History of the Indianapolis Journal” Master’s thesis, Butler University, 1936. Access it here: http://digitalcommons.butler.edu/grtheses/224/

Miller, John W. Indiana Newspaper Bibliography. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1982.

“Berry R. Sulgrove, Journalist,” Indiana Magazine of History 1 (1905): 139-147.

Sulgrove, Berry R. History of Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana. Philadelphia: L. H. Everts & Co., 1884.