Author Archives Henry
To review, here’s a newspaper roll call of the five daily newspapers (there were also weekly papers – four of them religious) in Richmond in late March at the close of the Civil War: the Richmond Examiner, Enquirer, Whig, Sentinel and (leaving no doubt about its frequency) the Daily Dispatch.
They publish in the war years (the Sentinel beginning in 1863) despite a “decrease in advertising, the shortage of ink and paper, the strike of printers, the loss of skilled workman by conscription, and…a depreciation of the currency, causing prices to rise to unprecedented levels,” as Lester Cappon writes in his introduction to Virginia Newspapers 1835-1935, a ready reference at the Project.
There’s no work around or compromise with fire, however, and the destruction of much of the city center April 3 (a Monday) one hundred and fifty years ago – marked with much ceremony here in Richmond over the weekend – left only the Whig capable of printing a narrative of the chaos accompanying the city’s surrender. And only after the approval, announced in an editor’s note, of the occupying Federal commander.
Given our task as preservers of Virginia’s newspaper heritage, we’re also interested readers. This includes the present day 21st century descendent of the Daily Dispatch, The Richmond Times-Dispatch. Especially when they reproduce the past in such compelling fashion as they did in last Saturday’s edition.
Something on page 2 caught our eye:
What’s that again? April 1, the last issue of the Daily Dispatch? What then of the April 3rd issue we have in hand and read in preparation for the blog the Friday previous? Bear in mind, if you’re an archivist, this advances the tingling onset of mystery and intrigue. Already we brooded with some … read more »
On Monday, April 3, the city burns. The following day Lincoln walks the still smoking ruins and the capital faces occupation by the Federal Army. April 9, about 90 miles west, Lee surrenders his force. And on the 14th of the month, the President is assassinated.
But on March 30, the beguiling calm of routine jurisprudence prevails in city court. The Examiner reports:
Only four days later, as the planned warehouse fires move beyond anything resembling a plan, the “presiding” Mayor Mayo sits within a carriage heading east to the Union lines, a note of capitulation on his person.
Anarchy, a massive munitions explosion its overture, plays out in the daylight, a wretched, sour bacchanalia no court can address.
The Examiner office yields to the inferno and has a share of black space on the map above. The Daily Dispatch and the Enquirer were consumed too. The winds favored the Whig. It’s their map.
Progress At Last-Twenty Years, Actually. The Caroline Progress of Bowling Green–Now Entering VNP Preservation.
Between 1883 and 1909 six of the seven newspapers that ever claimed Bowling Green as home appeared, and then disappeared, after publishing for no more than two or three years. Now I can’t describe the following as an especially significant curiosity, but it certainly qualifies as at least a noteworthy anomaly – though admittedly one only an archivist might find amusing. It so happens each of these papers chose the county name and a single word identifier for their title. This does, however, provide an excuse to summarize the disappointing state of the Project’s Caroline County collection at the Library of Virginia in the following abbreviated manner: a Courier without arrival, an Echo unheard, a Promoter without promotion, an Advance never forwarded, News never read, and a Sentinel in lonely solitude. Here’s the single Caroline Sentinel (minus a bite) in our possession.
That’s five members of the regrettably lengthy Project “wish list” (not to mention the “wish more” list of which the Sentinel is a part). We do learn from our 1936 go-to reference, Virginia Newspapers, 1821-1935, A Bibliography, by Lester Cappon, PhD. (the Mighty Cappon at the desk!…the reference desk) that the University of Richmond holds one copy of the Caroline Echo, the Virginia Historical Society has a few additional copies of the Sentinel and about a year of the Caroline Promoter. The Caroline Courier, Advance, and News-POOF–the departure sfx for transport to oblivion, the default site for the great unfound. Sigh.
After the demise of the Caroline Echo in 1909, Cappon tells us, for the next ten years local readers had no choice but to seek a newspaper from Ashland to the south (the Hanover Weekly Herald or Progress-they merged in 1919), Fredericksburg to the north (most likely the Daily Star… read more »
A now chastised member of the Project staff expressed the feeling that the newspaper editorial “Yes, Virginia” was perhaps reaching the end of its cultural lifespan–that the heartbeat of this century old defense of Santa Claus was fading fast and exiting the collective memory.
This person was misinformed. And promptly Wiki-corrected. And then experienced the Wiki-fatigue he richly deserved. You may follow in his tracks if you wish: Yes, Virginia.
If you made it through the opening section of the Wiki entry, you now know the history of the “most reprinted editorial ever to run in any newspaper in the English language.” To further reinforce that reputation, we’re reprinting it below, from the 21 September 1897 issue of the New York Sun.How many newspapers reproduced this editorial in the next century? Lots. Lots and Lots. For example, here it is in the Clinch Valley News of 23 December 1921.
All of us here at the Virginia Newspaper Project want you to know that we believe in Santa Claus. And we believe in a newspaper editorial that supports the belief in Santa Claus. And we believe in the reprinting and reproduction of editorials that support the belief in Santa Claus. And we believe in the historical preservation of editorials that support the belief in Santa Claus. And we believe in the historical preservation of editorials that support the belief in Santa Claus in both microfilm and digital formats.
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE VIRGINIA NEWSPAPER PROJECT!
p.s. The editorial read by Virginia, herself.
Thanksgiving 1958Thanksgiving. Sometimes it’s work. Who needs a drink? Four of the six liquor ads from this 1958 issue.Thanksgiving 1968Thanksgiving 1978Thanksgiving 1988And the Christmas encroachment begins…
p.s. One more from 1958. Something to consider when you’re deciding whether to leave your phone in your pocket or on the Thanksgiving table…
… read more »
In November of 1852, William Makepeace Thackeray, still enjoying the considerable success and fame accruing from his novel of the previous decade, Vanity Fair, arrived after a two week voyage from Liverpool (on the Royal Mail ship “Canada”) in Boston harbor. Thackeray’s purpose, besides adventure, was financial gain, a cushion for his daughters from a life he suspected might be foreshortened. In fact, it was–He died ten years later at only 52.
The lecture route, somewhat planned and somewhat improvised, would take a leisurely southern direction, with an appearance in Richmond scheduled for the following February. Thackeray was accompanied by Erye Crowe, who acted as personal secretary, tour manager, amanuensis and, most importantly, good company during what promised to be a stimulating, but inescapably trying and lengthy journey.
Like Thackeray, Crowe was a skilled sketch artist. Unlike Thackeray, who abandoned art studies as a young man to sketch words as a journalist, Crowe, 29 years of age and about a dozen years the author’s junior, still aspired to be an artist. While Thackeray’s lectures and impressions of America inscribed in his letters now interest only scholars, Crowe’s oil painting, “Slaves Waiting for Auction”, derived from his drawing above, can still jab the conscience.
The work acts as centerpiece for the Library of Virginia’s exhibit opening later this month, “To Be Sold,” a close examination of Richmond as a distribution hub for the business of selling human beings.
Yet minus the intercession of a book and a newspaper, the painting might not exist at all. “I expended 25 cents”, writes Crowe in his memoir of 1893, With Thackeray in America, “in the purchase of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and was properly … read more »
“No man ever left behind him a character more venerated than George Wythe. His virtue was of the purest tint; his integrity inflexible, and his justice exact; of warm patriotism, and, devoted as he was to liberty, and the natural and equal rights of man, he might truly be called the Cato of his country.”
That’s Thomas Jefferson, not only a former student but trusted friend, and the statement most often quoted in biographical accounts, long or short, of Wythe’s life.
The following observation speaks to the maintenance of the body in support of that spirit so deservedly praised and is from William Munford, one of the last students Wythe (pronounced “with”) would mentor. It provides a better caption for the image above, 5th and Grace in downtown Richmond, as it fits the person into a space, bland though it may appear here in the historical present.
“”Old as he is, his habit is, every morning, winter and summer, to rise before the sun, go to the well in the yard, draw several buckets of water, and fill the reservoir for his shower bath, and then, drawing the cord, let the water fall over him in a glorious shower. Many a time have I heard him catching his breath and almost shouting with the shock. When he entered the breakfast room his face would be in a glow, and all his nerves were fully braced.”
No one’s nerves, however, could be braced for what would follow Wythe’s daily ritual the morning of May 25, 1806, almost 15 years after Wythe’s departure from Williamsburg to Richmond to preside over the Capital’s Chancery Court. That an 81 year old revered Founding Father (participant in the Second Continental Congress, signer of the Declaration of Independence, the country’s first law professor, classics scholar-a … read more »
A Muted Celebration: Independence Day, July 4th, 1902–A Quartet of Friday Fourths From the Newspaper Archive of Virginia Chronicle
The Civil War ended 37 years ago. A Republican, Theodore Roosevelt is President. A Democrat, Andrew Jackson Montague is Governor. A state constitutional convention, dominated by Democrats, just disbanded taking the regressive step, as the nation advanced into the Progressive Era, of drastically narrowing the voting rights of blacks. A Virginia small city editor, like our editors here, in sympathy with the Democratic party, perhaps now in his late fifties or early sixties and perhaps a Confederate veteran, might be inclined to more quickly recall that lost cause for independence instead of the found of 126 years ago. From the Lexington Gazette-right column, front page, starting above the fold:
This irascible appeal to the responsibilities of memory is the bluntest expression among our four papers of a lack of enthusiasm over the arrival of Independence Day. And Lexington, it deserves mention, the home of VMI and Washington and Lee University, was also the final home of Robert E. Lee whose name was attached to the school’s title upon his death in 1870,after acting as its director since the war’s close.
Further north in the valley, the Shenandoah Herald’s July 4 edition, it’s a challenge to locate anything associated with the holiday. A brief discussion of rattlesnake imagery in early American flags on the front page could qualify, but only maybe. Its editor, John H. Grabill, was a former captain in the Confederate cavalry.
At least the editor of the Farmville Herald delivers some assertion out his ambivalence. As well as a request to put down the bottle:
W. McDonald Lee, editor of Irvington’s Virginia Citizen, devotes five full columns to an often diverting … read more »
“Your Attention Residents, Now Arriving at Gates H and C, Dulles International Airport.” The Herndon-Chantilly Times (1958-1962).
I didn’t anticipate opening today’s “Fit To Print” blog entry in quite this manner but I stumbled on it mainly by chance and, for someone with an already strong fondness for maps, the opportunity proved irresistible. Below, the center two pages of the November 9, 1944 issue of the Herndon News-Observer:
“Poor Fairfax County, it didn’t know what was coming”, remarked a colleague. I imagined Til Hazel (if unfamiliar, google away) replying, “Poor?” In 1950 the county knew a major airport in its borders was a real possibility; Congress had green lighted appropriation. By 1955, it was determined that Burke (just east of the city of Fairfax on the map) would not be the site. Organized resistance prevailed. For planners now, the priorities were less resistance, a warmer welcome, and much more space-an important consideration for an airport with jets foremost in mind. The decision was made to move west, to Loudoun County, leaving a trailing foot in Fairfax. Here’s the Loudoun Times-Mirror, January 16, 1958.
This was without question an economic life-changer and, for the local press, a huge story with multiple angles and it was forming directly in the front yard of the Leesburg based Times-Mirror. But for Herndon (a historic town, incorporated in 1879) and Chantilly (an intersection) it was on their front porch pressing against the door and promising a revenue wind velocity not previously reckoned. The News-Observer was long gone, having departed later in the 1940’s. An opportunity beckoned to establish a presence in boomtown, west Fairfax County. The first issue of the Herndon-Chantilly Times (like the Times-Mirror, a weekly) appears on May 15 with the masthead describing it as an “edition of the Loudoun Times-Mirror”. By this issue the following July it … read more »
Richmond Newspapers to Lincoln: Address, What Address? An “Entirely Yankeeish” Affair. 150 Years Ago Today.
What did readers of Richmond’s press in late November of 1863 learn of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and the events attending to the dedication of a new National Cemetery? Not much, not even a reproduced text, which, we’ve been reminded in recent days, totaled but 272 words.
For the editors of the Richmond Enquirer, Dispatch, Examiner, Sentinel and Whig a fuller journalistic experience (after four days of perilous navigation through a war environment) was in hand: five pages of detailed reportage in the New York Herald. These editors paid close attention the Herald output. Below is what the Daily Dispatch decided to deliver (click to expand):
And, with special vitriol directed to the comparably verbose Edward Everett, here’s the choice of The Examiner (again, click to expand):
Other members of the Confederate press took their cue from Richmond and distributed similarly censored, sketchy accounts of the day. A speech reminding citizens of the Union’s loyalty “to the proposition that all men are created equal” was not a message deemed germane to the day.
Nor was it in 1913, when the fifty year anniversary coverage of the Times Dispatch republished its old inaccuracies without correction. Another newspaper that same year in its marking of the date did publish the complete Gettysburg Address-the black owned and operated Richmond Planet.
For more detail of the Virginia press response to the Gettysburg Address try this link to a book published just last month: http://www.siupress.com/product/The-Long-Shadow-of-Lincolns-Gettysburg-Address,6023.aspx