A History of the New California, Its Resources and People.
CHAPTER X. GROWTH OF NEWSPAPERS. by Irvine, Leigh H.
CHAPTER X. GROWTH OF NEWSPAPERS.
Irvine, Leigh H.
Irvine, Leigh H.
The Lewis Publishing Co., New York 1/1/1905
CHAPTER X. GROWTH OF NEWSPAPERS.
From Early Times California Has Been a Great Country for Newspapers and Periodical Literature of All Varieties — Great Bold ness of Early Editors, Who Took Large Risks and Made Good Profits by Doing So — Printed Matter That Cost a Small For tune Each Issue in the Days When Paper was Worth Fabulous Prices — Extraordinary Fertility of the Journalistic Field in Early Sacramento — Modern Papers and Their Methods, With a Sketch of Some of the Leading Journals of Northern California.
Though at the extreme western rim of the American continent, and though often supposed to be far beyond the influences of high culture, especially in pioneer times, California has a brilliant record in journalism and literature, as intimated by President Jordan, of Stanford University, in his chapter of the present volume.
The land that produced Joaquin Miller, Bret Harte, Mark Twain, Henry George. Arthur McEwen, and like men of the pen need not be ashamed of its record. Even in pioneer days San Francisco and Monterey, the centers of population, had a powerful press. The isolation of the country and the absence of world news inevitably led to a high order of writing. Mediocres would have run to village gossip, but the men at the helm in those times were men of talents, so they wrote a high class of editorials, a good type of stories, and a rich class of humor.
By the year 1876 San Francisco had eighty well known publication, and in modern times the output runs far into the hundreds, and the range covers every variety of journal imaginable, some being published in Chinese. San Francisco has ever been an inviting field for publishers, but, like every other large city, it has a good-sized newspaper graveyard.
The first paper published in the territory was the Californian, at the historic town of Monterey. Volume I, number I, bore date August 15, 1846 . [page 129] Walter Colton and Robert Semple were its proprietors. The paper was printed from long primer type and the press work was done on an old Ramage press that had seen service in the Mexican war, having been used by the Mexican governors in the printing of their edicts.
Second in the list of papers comes the California Star, a weekly, which was established in San Francisco by S. Brannan, on January 9, 1847 , and E. P. Jones was its editor. On April 17, 1847, E. C. Kemble , later of the Alta, succeeded Jones and was for a long period the senior editor in the state.
In May, 1847, the Californian removed from Monterey to San Francisco and became a competitor of the Star. When the gold era dawned journalism suffered a severe blow. The fever for gold raged so high by the spring of 1848 that all the printers deserted for the mines. Both the Star and the Californian were compelled to suspend publication, so that from May 26, 1848 , until the latter part of June there was not a newspaper in California.
By August, 1848 , the Californian resumed its career, this time under the management of H. I. Sheldon. In September of the same year E. C. Kemble bought both the Star and the Californian and consolidated them under the name Star and Californian. It might be said here that such consolidations were very common in California from that date on to the end of pioneer times. It is noticeable, even to-day, that the state has many such consolidated publications.
The Star and Californian went out of existence in December, 1848 , and on January 1, 1849 , Kemble, Hubbard and Gilbert established the Alta Californian, which was published for more than a generation. From January 4, 1850 , until its suspension it was a daily.
On April 28, 1849 , E. C. Kemble, who had gone to New Helvetia, issued the first copy of the Placer Times. More concerning this will appear under the heading of Sacramento journalism, for New Helvetia became Sacramento.
On August 25, 1849 , Falkner & Leland established the Pacific News in San Francisco, though paper was then worth $60 a ream. Their publication was issued on many sizes and colors of paper — white, butchers' brown, tea wrappers, or on whatever could be obtained. It was a tri-weekly.
Under a summarized statement the careers of a number of early papers may be thus exhibited:
Late in 1855 James King, of William and C. O. Gerberding, established the San Francisco Bulletin, which is still in existence. (A graphic account of the killing of James King, of William, and of the part the Bulletin played during Vigilance Committee days, appears in the chapters devoted to the Vigilance Committees.)
George K. Fitch and Loring Pickering secured the Bulletin in 1850 , and under their management it became famous. Men like Nesbit, Bartlett, Barnes, Tuthill and Avery added luster to its columns in the day of its power and glory.
The San Francisco Call was first issued on the morning of December [page 131] 1, 1856 , under the management, as announced, of "Associated Practical Printers." It grew in size and favor from the outset, and by 1869 Messrs. Pickering & Fitch had bought it. Under their management it soon became a power and was for many years supreme under their direction.
On October 7, 1863 , the Democratic Press was established in San Francisco, and by June 12, 1865 , it became the Evening Examiner, with William S. Moss as publisher and B. F. Washington as editor. For several years William S. Moss, Phil Roach and George Pen Johnston were its owners. Until secured by United States Senator George Hearst, in the eighties, it was a highly chaste and non-sensational journal. After Senator Hearst's death the paper went to his son. W. R. Hearst, and under his control it has been conspicuous for its aggressive sensationalism.
On December 4, 1871 , the San Francisco Evening Post was introduced to the public under the proprietorship of Messrs. Hinton, Rapp & Co., with Henry George as editor. Mr. George afterward became famous as the author of "Progress and Poverty," and apostle of the single-tax school of political economists. S. Seabough. a brilliant editor, L. E. Crane, and J. T. Goodwin, who introduced Mark Twain into journalism, were famous writers for the Post during its early history.
The history of the San Francisco Call and of the San Francisco Chronicle appear in independent sketches, furnished by their present proprietors.
The following facts are taken almost wholly, though not in his language, from an excellent article by Mr. Joseph A. Woodson, for many years the brilliant editor of the Sacramento Record-Union:
On the 28th of April, 1849 . at Sutter's Fort, the first Sacramento paper was issued. E. C. Kemble and Company were its founders, and from the seed they planted, sprang all the journals which have been started in the Sacramento Valley since that date. Their paper was the Placer Times, which was an offshoot of the Alta Californian of San Francisco, and its success encouraged those who conceived the idea of a paper at the Fort. The merchants of the vicinity guaranteed the owners against loss. An assortment of old type was picked up from the Alta office, an old Ramage press was repaired. Spanish foolscap was secured and the entire outfit was shipped to Sacramento by [page 132] water. An office was built near what is now 28th and K streets. It was a mixture of adobe, wood and cotton cloth, but it answered the purpose. The paper was 13 x 18 inches and the title was cut from wood with a pocket knife.
Everything about the office was pioneer-like and the crudest imaginable. The Times appeared on Saturdays until chills and fever drove the editor to San Francisco, after which Per Lee conducted the paper for two weeks, but, being a tyro, he abandoned it and H. Giles took charge for the owners of the Alta. In July the office was moved to Front street, where it flourished for a time, though the editor growled about the ingratitude of people who had promised to give him a lot.
Subscriptions were ten dollars a year. In November, 1849 , after a brief period of reduction in size, the paper resumed its old shape and was removed to Second street between K and L streets. On April 22, 1850 , it began to appear as a tri-weekly and J. E. Lawrence became its editor. In July, 1850 , it was enlarged one-third and on October 8th it was bought by Loring Pickering, J. E. Lawrence and L. Aldrich for $i6,000.00, which sum included the cost of the building and two lots. Up to this time the paper had been independent in politics, but inclined toward Democracy. In June, 1851 , the Times was consolidated with its rival, its last issue being June 15, 1851 .
It is interesting to recall that the Sacramento of those times contained about 100 buildings, though there lay along the river front many barges, brigs and deep water vessels, on some of which many people lived. An ordinary wooden hotel twenty-five by fifty-five feet then cost $100,000 and rented for $5,000 a month. Beef was worth about $3.00 a pound, cheese $1.50 per pound and milk $1.00 a quart. Carpenters earned $16 a day and laborers $1.50 per hour. A ball in those days could muster but eighteen women from the region extending from Marysville to the San Joaquin, and more than 250 men were in competition for the "first dance," after having paid $32.00 for a ticket of admission. This was the era of the hurdy-gurdy, the revolver and the bowie knife. Under such social conditions the founders of the first newspaper began their career.
On April 1, 1850 , the Sacramento Transcript made its appearance. It was the same size as the Times, but it appeared as a tri-weekly and it was the first paper to issue in interior California more frequently than once a week. The proprietors were George K. Fitch, S. C. Upham, J. M. Julian, H. [page 133] S. Warner, Theodore Russell and F. C. Ewer. Mr. Fitch and Mr. Pickering of the Pioneer Times and Transcript were afterward proprietors of the Bulletin and the Call of San Francisco. Mr. Ewer became an eminent Episcopal clergyman and was for some years pastor of one of the greatest churches of New York city.
Professor Josiah Royce, now of the Chair of Philosophy at Harvard University, whose excellent history of California has been referred to through out the present history, found the files of the Transcript invaluable to him during his researches. This need excite no wonder, for it was a good news paper, carefully edited, and of a high degree of literary excellence. Fifth interests in the paper sold the summer after it started for as much as $5,000. G. C. Weld bought the interest of Mr. Upham for $10,000 very soon after the paper was founded. In July, 1850 , the Transcript was enlarged and the rivalry between it and the Times became very warm. The Transcript was an independent publication at the outset, but it became Democratic in December, 1850 . On June 16, 1851 , the Times and Transcript were united and issued as one paper under the joint title, the first double headed paper in California. George K. Fitch had become state printer and Loring Pickering had the city printing. These contracts formed the basis of the fusion, Mr. Fitch retaining a half interest in the printing and Pickering and Lawrence holding the other half.
The editors were Pickering, Fitch and Lawrence, and they found a rival in the State Journal. In June, 1852 , the Times and Transcript left the field and went to San Francisco, where it was published by the old firm and subsequently published by George Kerr. B. F. Washington , J. E. Lawrence and J. C. Haswell. It passed from them to Edwin Bell and next to Vincent E. Geiger & Co. Pickering, Fitch & Co. meantime had acquired the Alta Californian and on December 17, 1854 , they bought back their old Times and Transcript, which the Alta absorbed immediately.
On October 30. 1850 , the Settler's and Miner's Tribune was started to champion the cause of the Squatter's Association and was noted for the active part it took in the Squatter riots of 1850 . Doctor C. L. Robinson, who subsequently became the Free State Governor of Kansas, was its editor, and James McClatchy. afterwards of the Bee, and L. M. Booth, were associate editors. Cyrus Rowe brought the printing material from Maine. The publication [page 134] was daily except Sundays, for one month, after which it became a weekly and in another month gently gave up the ghost and became the first contribution to Sacramento's famous newspaper graveyard.
The Sacramento Index, established December 23, 1850 , was the first Whig newspaper of the valley. It was started by Lynch Davison and Rolle, practical printers. J. W. Winens, afterwards a prominent San Francisco lawyer, was its editor, assisted by H. B. Livingstone. It was issued from the Times office and was the first afternoon newspaper. It relied for support upon the Whigs, but found political contributions very weak, so it took its position against the actions of the Vigilance Committee in hanging a gambler. After that ill-timed stroke, it lost ground and died quietly on St. Patrick's Day, 1851 . having lived three months. It was noted during its brief but brilliant life as a paper of rare literary ability, of great vigor and originality of expression, and as a paper of high ideals.
About this time competition between the Times and the Transcript became so warm that it was ruinous to business. Printers became discouraged on account of low rates, so they resolved to establish a new paper and they secured Dr. J. F. Morse as editor. They sent to San Francisco for stock, rented rooms at 21 J street and on March 19, 1851 , they launched the Sacramento Daily Union. The proprietors were Alexander Clark, who subsequently went to the Society Islands; W. K. Keating, who died afterwards in an insane asylum; A. C. Cook, Job Court (who was burnt to death at the Western Hotel fire in 1874 ); E. G. Jefferis; Charles L. Hansicker, F. H. Harmon, W. K. Davison and Samuel H. Dosh. Mr. Dosh was afterward editor of the Shasta Courier. During its long and successful career the Union, afterward the Record-Union, and now the Union again, has played a great and important part in the journalism of northern California. Many brilliant editors have graced its columns with wit and wisdom, and have contributed in no small degree to the instruction, the amusement and the upbuilding of the public character.
On February 5, 1852 , the Democratic State Journal appeared with V. E. Geiger and B. F. Washington as editors. It was a Democratic paper and it opposed the reign of popular justice organized as the famous Vigilance Committee of 1856 . Its career was not successful, and on June 24, 1858 , it breathed its last.
The California Statesman was founded on November 13, 1854 . It was a morning paper edited by Henry Meredith, straight out Democratic and supported W. M. Gwin for re-election to the United States senate against Broderick . In March, 1855 , the publishers were involved in legal difficulties and they suspended the Statesman in consequence.
The California Farmer and Journal of Useful Science began its publication in Sacramento in May, 1855 . having already appeared in San Francisco a year before. The publishers were Warren & Son and J. K. Phillips & Co. Dr. J. F. Morris was the editor for one month. It was a weekly paper and remained in Sacramento until July 18, 1856 , when it was removed to San Francisco, where it appeared for many years. Colonel Warren was a wonderful character, having been the proprietor of a famous resort at Brighton, Massachusetts, known as Nonantun Vale. There he kept a register which contained the names of eminent men who had visited the place. The Colonel died in San Francisco about ten years ago, having attained the ripe age of one hundred years. He was of considerable ability and culture and in his declining years he took great pride in showing his register which contained the names of such celebrities as Webster. Clay and Calhoun, and in exhibiting preserved pumpkins, squash and other vegetables that he had introduced into California as editor of the old California Farmer.
Dr. J. F. Morse and S. Colville in March, 1854 , issued the first and only number of a monthly magazine entitled the "Illustrated Historical Sketches of California, with a Minute History of the Sacramento Valley." Mr. Joseph A. Woodson says the bad management of the business department caused the early death of the publication, but others say the name killed it.
March 13, 1854 , J. M. Shephard and Co. issued the Sacramento Daily Democrat. It was edited by R. C. Mathewson. It was printed from the material of the defunct Benicia Vidette. After a sickly career of three months, it suddenly gave up the ghost.
The Pacific Recorder appeared July 15, 1854 . edited by E. J. Willis. It was to champion the cause of the Baptist Church. It was a semi-monthly, and in July, 1855 , it became a weekly. In March, 1856 , its rather feeble life began to ebb and it met its death with Christian fortitude.
On June 8, 1855 , the State Tribune reached the surface as a morning paper. It was edited and published by Parker H. French and S. J. May. On August 1st, J. M. Estill became editor of the Tribune and opposed John Bigler and the Democracy with such vigor as to draw bitter opposition from many other journals. Subsequently the partners quarreled and soon thereafter two Tribunes appeared, each with the claim that it was the real and the only Tribune. The twins soon died, the last on June 1, 1856 .
On December 6, 1855 . George H. Baker and J. A. Mitchell established the Spirit of the Age. In June, 1856 , it changed its name to the Sacramento Age and enlarged. In the summer of 1856 it was sold to the No-Nothing party and it survived until after the election of 1857 .
The Chinese News was started in December, 1856 . Ze Too Yune, alias Hung Tai, was editor and publisher and he displayed much skill in his dual capacity. It was first a daily, then a tri-weekly, then a weekly, lastly a monthly, and after a two years' lease of life, it entered Chinese heaven.
The Temperance Mirror was a monthly, commenced January, 1857 , by O. B. Terrell with W. D. Taylor as editor. It was issued once in Sacramento, after which it was removed to San Francisco, where it died in March of the same year.
The Daily Morning Bee began its life February 3, 1857 . It was independent in politics and was edited by J. R. Ridge and S. J. May. A more complete sketch of this journal has been furnished by the publishers and the reader will find it elsewhere in this volume.
The State Sentinel was issued July 23, 1857 , but it died early in 1858 . The Eye Glass appeared in August, 1857 . No second number was ever issued. The Covenant and Odd Fellows' Magazine, a monthly journal, began August 31, 1857 , and died in June, 1858 . The Temperance Register began in September, 1850 , and died December 12 , of the same year. On December 20, 1857 , the Herald of the Morning, a paper devoted to Spiritualism, had an experience of four weeks on earth, after which it passed to Beulah Land. The Phoenix, afterward the Ubiquitous, began as an occasional in the autumn of 1857 , was issued as a weekly during the winter of 1858 , and died in the summer of 1858 . It was an abusive sheet and few mourned its loss. The Watch Dog lasted from January until March, 1858 . It was a full twin of the Phoenix. The Sacramento Visitor began in March. 1858 , and died in June of the same year. The Sacramento Mercury was established as a Democratic paper in March. 1858 , and ceased in October. The California Statesman (number two of the name) was started May, 1858 , and died in June. The Californian (number two of that name) saw the light in July, 1858 . and died after a week. The Baptist Circular was issued from August, 1858 , until the spring of 1859 . The Morning Star was a small daily for a few weeks. It expired in March, 1859 . The Daily Register appearing during 1858 and 1859 . The Daily Democratic Standard was published from February 26, 1859 , until the autumn of 1860 .
In June, 1860 , Henry Biddleman & Co. founded the Daily Democrat, but it died with the fall election of that year. On June 24, 1860 , the Daily Morning News appeared and lived for nine months. The Evening Post was begun in October, 1850 , as an independent paper and was discontinued in September, 1861 . The Rescue, a organ of the Good Templars, was started as a monthly in February, 1854 , and was issued until late in the 70's. The Evening Star was a daily started May 25, 1864 , and it lived three months. The California Republican, a Democratic morning paper, existed from January 4, 1863 , [page 138] until the spring of 1865 . The Golden Gate, a spiritualist weekly, lived for a few weeks during the spring of 1864 . The Advertiser existed during the winter of the same year. The California Express was published from December 23, 1866 , until July, 1867 , having been issued as a morning paper.
The Sacramento Daily Record first appeared as an independent evening paper. February 9, 1867 . It was published by an association of printers composed of J. J. Keegan, John L. Sickler, J. P. Dray and R. E. Draper. Draper was the first editor and in about a month was succeeded by W. S. Johnston, who remained about one year, and was succeeded by J. B. McQuillan, who remained a few months and was succeeded by R. A. Bird. Subsequently it was purchased by W. H. Mills and A. D. Wood. Mr. Mills was long the manager of the Record-Union, and a portion of the Record editorial staff, as also a portion of the Sacramento Union then and subsequent editorial staff long composed the Record-Union staff. The Record became a morning paper December 2, 1867 . In the beginning it was a small five-column sheet, but through successive enlargements soon grew to the present size of the Record-Union. During the winter of 1871 the Record distinguished itself by the fullest and most elaborate stenographic legislative reports ever published in the United States, frequently printing morning after morning nineteen columns in solid nonpareil of the proceedings of senate and house. For several years the Sacramento Union had published annual statistical sheets and in January. 1873 , the Record entered the same field and surpassed its rival by issuing the largest holiday paper ever published in the United States. It was the first daily paper to maintain a semi-weekly edition. After a bitter rivalry the Record and the Union were consolidated as the Record-Union in February, 1875 .
The Expositor was published from July 23, 1867 , until September of the same year. On February 26, 1864 , Richard Bowden established the Young American, which lasted a number of weeks. During this era a number of weekly papers of local character were published in Sacramento, such as, My Paper, Pioneer Blusterer, the Anti-Office-Seeker, The Sunday Times, the Hesperian, Student's Repository, and others.
In the winter of 1864 Charles DeYoung, afterward one of the founders of the San Francisco Chronicle, began the publication of the Dramatic [page 139] Chronicle, which was removed to San Francisco in about nine months. Its subsequent history appears further along in this chapter.
Other papers of the period were the monthly railroad Gazetteer, State Capital Reporter, Sacramento Democrat, the Locomotive, Semi-weekly Journal (German), the Valley World, the Evening News, the Sunday Free Press, the Sacramento Valley Agriculturalist, the Occidental Star, and like papers.
The Winning Way was devoted to women and sociability.
Common Sense was a reform journal from 1873 to 1874 . Other papers of this period were the Mercantile Globe, California Teacher, State Fair Gazette, Evening Herald, Enterprise, a Sunday morning paper, the Seminary Budget, and the Business College Journal.
In recapitulation the ups and downs of journals may be exhibited quite clearly by the following obituary tablet.
The following interesting history of the San Francisco Chronicle, one of the great newspapers of the country, was prepared by one of the Chronicle staff, under direction of Mr. George Hamlin Fitch:
The transformation of a little seed into a remarkably large product is a common enough performance in the field of horticulture in California, but it is rare in the domain of journalism, the San Francisco Chronicle being the most striking example in the state of such a feat. The Chronicle, now one of the largest and most influential newspapers in the nation, was as tiny a sheet as there was in the land at the commencement of its existence, January 16, 1865 . It was then hardly more than a playbill, nine by fifteen inches in size, and it was dubbed the Dramatic Chronicle. That Charles de Young the elder brother, and M. H. de Young were born newspaper-men was evidenced by the career of the Chronicle from its very start. They began with out experience, for M. H. de Young was only seventeen years of age at that time and Charles de Young was not much older. These youthful journalists had no financial backing, but with light hearts as well as pockets, and ready wits as well as hands, they gathered advertisements, prepared the other necessary [Page 141] matter, put it into type, turned the crank of the printing machine, and attended to the distribution of the paper.
Had they not possessed uncommon talents for the newspaper business they would have failed as did many other publishers, who, better provided with money, were for a period their competitors, and whose names with those of their papers are forgotten. So quick and continuous was the Chronicle's process of development that ere long it shed the word "Dramatic," and in 1868 , it became a regular daily newspaper. From the inception of their journalistic work the proprietors had broad plans. In the opening announce ment in the very first number of the Dramatic Chronicle, they said "We shall do our utmost to enlighten mankind of the actions, intentions, sayings, doings, movements, successes, failures, oddities, peculiarities, and speculations of us poor mortals here below," which compact statement has expressed the purpose of the Chronicle from that day to this — its constant aim, in other words, having been and still being to get and give all the news, despite difficulties.
So notable has been the Chronicle's success that some readers of the present time, unfamiliar with its history, may suppose that luck favored it or that it had an easy road to travel when it once got on the journalistic highway, but instead it long had to face the opposition of the strong, to endure the contumely which meets the ambitious, and to struggle incessantly as it grew. Numerous, indeed, have been its battles. It struck strong blows at its foes, and did not go down to defeat and ruin because generally these foes were the foes of the people. The history of the Chronicle involves much of the political history of the state. It has been foremost in some of the hottest contests which have been waged in California. It is said now and then that the people are ungrateful, but the career of the Chronicle indicates that it is not unprofitable to be their champion. In the first issue of the daily paper which was put forth by the de Youngs in 1868 , they stated that the Chronicle would be a strictly anti-monopolist journal and would be subservient to no money interest and to no railroad corporation.
The importance of this principle and of sticking to it may not be fully appreciated by persons who are unaware of the part which certain wealthy corporations played in directing the government of California for a generation. Assailing monopolies became the policy and habit of the Chronicle, [page 142] and that the people approved its course in this respect was demonstrated by the support given it, enabling it to thrive while the newspapers which — to use a phrase that was often employed in California politics, "Were subsidized by the corporations," languished and died. The fate of the Alta California, for example, was a contrast to the prosperity of the Chronicle. That paper was one of the earliest which appeared in San Francisco, antedating the birth of the Chronicle. In an exciting conflict between the corrupt elements in San Francisco and the great body of the people in the first epoch of the city, it spoke for the cause of the people, and it gained renown and revenue;but in later years it became the mouthpiece of the corporations against whom a spirit of popular antagonism had been aroused, and notwithstanding its established credit and the good name it had formerly won, it declined and finally perished. The Chronicle has always kept its anti-monopoly sword unsheathed, for monopolies keep springing up in California as elsewhere and there is usually an opportunity for an opponent of them to keep busy. The Chronicle has attacked them under the Sherman anti-trust law and the laws of the state, and has materially aided in breaking up such combinations.
Displays of enterprise in getting the news are interesting episodes of the Chronicle's history. Even when at the beginning it was run as a theat rical sheet, depending on advertisements for the necessary funds to keep going, its proprietors sought to give as much local news as possible, and it was the first paper in San Francisco to afford the public information about the assassination of Lincoln in 1865 . The custom of most newspapers then was to print the bare facts about an event, and the details were seldom furnished. The young proprietors of the Chronicle reasoned that newspaper readers ought to have as many details concerning interesting occurrences as were obtainable, and they had a chance to put this notion into effect soon after the Chronicle became a daily. The Great Earthquake, as it is still called, rocked the city on October 22, 1868 , and the de Youngs with every one of their employes went forth to scour the streets and get all the information procurable about the results of the terrifying shake. As fast as details were secured the men hurried back to the office and put them in type, and three extras were issued in the afternoon, the last one giving all that there was to be told. This enterprise was a novelty for the town, and it gave the [p[age 143] paper local fame. The same spirit was shown as the Chronicle grew, always the desire to outdo its rivals in the race for news being uppermost. Space does not permit a resume of its many "scoops." It became known as "the live paper," and its business kept increasing to such an extent that after moving several times to larger quarters the de Youngs erected a building on the northeast corner of Bush and Kearney streets, then the largest newspaper structure in San Francisco, and published the paper there in 1879 . In the business office in this building Charles de Young was shot fatally in April, 1880 , by Isaac M. Kalloch, at present an attorney-at-law in San Francisco, the shooting being the outcome of political conditions.
After Charles de Young's death M. H. de Young alone conducted the paper, and made it even a greater power and more remunerative property than it had been before. Such was the increase of its circulation that about 1890 Mr. de Young found it necessary to move again so as to secure more room, and he erected the present home of the Chronicle, at the junction of Market. Geary and Kearney streets. This was the first tall, fire-proof building constructed in San Francisco. Previously it was feared that tall structures would he cracked or overthrown by earthquakes, but Mr. de Young's experiment, which was undertaken after he had studied the construction of strong steel-frame buildings in eastern cities, showed that this fear was groundless, and then high office buildings became quite numerous in California's metropolis. The junction of the streets mentioned is now known as "Newspaper Corner," the other morning papers having buildings on other corners, which were put up after Mr. de Young's, his being opened in June, 1890 . The monetary value of the Chronicle is now estimated to be about $5,000,000, as it is supposed to be earning a fair rate of interest on that big sum, while aside from his newspaper Mr. de Young is reputed to have holdings which are worth millions of dollars. He is a sagacious business man and a keen judge of real estate, and it is generally understood that his investments for a considerable number of years have yielded large profits. What a great oak has been developed from the little Dramatic Chronicle acorn!
The Chronicle is the only daily newspaper in San Francisco which has been under one management from the beginning. The proprietorship of each of the others has changed more than once. Of all the men now engaged in the newspaper business in San Francisco, Mr. de Young has been in it longest. [page 144] He knows every detail of the business from the top floors where the contents of the paper are written, the pictures are prepared and the matter put in type, to the basement, where the swift presses throw off the printed pages in the early morning hours. He knows how an editorial should be written and what point should be made by it; what should be the form of the local and telegraphic news and what the relative value of important news where machinery and ink and paper and all other materials should be bought; and what every man on his long pay-roll is doing daily. The complexities of the advertising department Were mastered by him long ago. In short, the Chronicle is essentially M. H. de Young's paper. He and it have grown up to gether. His travels abroad benefit the Chronicle as well as himself, for on his trips to eastern cities, where he is well known, and to Europe, where also he has many distinguished acquaintances, he notes whatever new ideas arise in newspaperdom, and the Chronicle gets the advantage of them. His knowledge of the world enables him to judge as to the news of the world, and as to how it should be obtained. Some years ago George P. Rowell, an advertising agent of New York, who was known all over the country, and who made a study of the newspapers of the United States so as to decide wisely where to place the advertisements of his clients, said "The San Francisco Chronicle is the best conducted paper in the United States," and since then its merit has not decreased. The general verdict concerning the Chronicle in California at this day is that it supplies all the news, discusses the questions of the day intelligently and ably, and is about as fair as a daily news paper can be.
Mr. de Young has for many years represented this state on the board of directors of the Associated Press, but the Chronicle had to fight hard to gain admission to the Associated Press, and until 1876 its San Francisco rivals, who were receiving the telegraphic news sent by that eastern organization, succeeded in keeping it out. For its independent telegraphic service it had to pay comparatively heavy tolls, and as it strove to be foremost in the eastern and foreign news fields its special dispatches entailed large outlay. After it got the Associated Press service, it continued its special telegraphic service which has never been excelled. The Chronicle was the first paper to teach the California public to expect extensive accounts of important events from distant places. It also began the custom here of celebrating special occasions [page 145] with large editions. When type, machinery, and paper were not so easy to procure in San Francisco as they are now, these mammoth editions were notable.
When at home Mr. de Young, millionaire though he is, goes to his office daily, and gives personal attention to every department of his paper. When away from San Francisco he keeps informed as to what is going on at the Chronicle office. He has engaged at times in political strife and has served with energy and ability on World's Fair Commissions, but he has allowed nothing to lessen his devotion to the Chronicle. For eight years he represented California on the Republican national committee, of which he was vice-chairman, and he was a delegate to several Republican national conventions. He was a candidate for United States senator in 1892 , and remained in the balloting for nearly two weeks, when he withdrew so that the deadlock might be broken. It was thought that Governor Markham would appoint him to fill a vacancy in the senate, but Senator Perkins was named instead. In 1898 when reports that he was an active candidate for senator were printed, Mr. de Young made a public announcement, in which he said: "I am not a candidate for United States senator. I have in past years been an aspirant for the United States senatorship; but realizing that the questions to be settled for this government by the Republican party are of more im portance than the private ambitions of any individual, I am anxious for the success of the Republican state ticket, and shall bend my energies exclusively to that result, as I hope every Republican will during the ensuing campaign."
In 1889 Mr. de Young's interest in World's Fairs began, he being appointed in that year as commissioner from California to the Paris Exposition. Afterwards he became a member of the National Commission for the World's Fair at Chicago, and he was chosen vice-president of that commission and placed on the board of control. His perceptive faculty and ability to dispatch business quickly were shown in these positions. Then he conceived the plan of the California Midwinter International Exposition, the project being announced by him on May 31, 1893 , at Chicago. The exposition opened in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, on January 1, 1894 , and, to the surprise of those who deemed the undertaking rash, it proved a success under Mr. de Young's direction, over $1,260,000 being taken in and a surplus being left after the payment of all expenses. Subsequently he was appointed by the [page 146] governor as Commissioner-General to represent California at the Omaha Trans-Mississippi Exposition and in 1900 President McKinley named him as a member of the National Commission to the International Exposition at Paris. He was chosen president of this National Commission by his associates, and the president of France conferred on him the decoration of the Legion of Honor.
The last service rendered by Mr. de Young as a member of a public body was in 1903, when President Roosevelt visited California. He was chosen chairman of the committee of citizens that arranged for the reception and entertainment of the president in San Francisco, and after the president's departure the committee tendered Mr. de Young a dinner at the Palace Hotel, and there presented him with a loving cup, bearing this inscription: "A souvenir from the Citizens' Executive Committee to the Hon. M. H. de Young, in acknowledgment of his executive ability and the masterly and successful manner in which he handled the functions given in honor of the visit of President Roosevelt to San Francisco, May, 1903."
Appreciation of the Chronicle proprietor was also shown by the International League of Press Clubs, which first elected him as its governor and then as its president.
The following story of the San Francisco Call's origin and development was written by Mr. Hugh M. Burke, of the Call editorial staff, who is one of the most competent and best known editors on the Pacific coast.
Fair knowledge of a newspaper's influence in the upbuilding of a state may be found in the history of the San Francisco Call. This journal was founded by practical newspaper men who had a true estimate of the value of enterprising service in the collection and presentation of news, but who still possessed appreciation of the fact that a newspaper owes something more to the public than is ordinarily paid for in the publication of news. The obligation of the press to stand for the rights of the people and to promote the moral and national advancement of the state was full recognized by the able founders of the Call.
The first number of the Call was issued December 1, 1856 , by Peter B. Foster, Lew Zublin, J. J. Avers, Charles F. Johnson and W. L. Carpenter. It gained public confidence at the outset because the people had faith in the character and integrity of its founders. Subsequently ownership of the paper was [page 147] acquired by Loring Pickering, George K. Fitch and J. W. Simonton. The prosperous career of the paper under the management of these capable men demonstrated beyond doubt that the people had faith in their judgment and confidence in their integrity. January 8, 1895 , John D. Spreckels purchased the Call. The people of California had long regarded Claus Spreckels as the foremost citizen of the state in the field of industrial expansion, and the intelligence that a representative of his family had purchased the famous news paper property was received with a felling akin to joy. The elation did not spring from any sense of distrust of the preceding management, but had its source in the profound belief that John D. Spreckels had the strength in reserve as well as the determination in hand to achieve for San Francisco, what the people had so long and earnestly desired — the building of a competing trans-continental railway.
A history of journalism in California would be incomplete without reference to the fact that every journal which up to that time had proclaimed with spirit and vigor for the construction of another railway line across the continent had been silenced or driven from the field of newspaper prestige. The first comment on the change in all circles was something of this meaning: "Now we will get a competing railroad. Spreckels will win the fight if he has to build the road himself." The battle for the people was fought and won. Public sentiment in favor of the competing enterprise which the Call awakened and strengthened had a powerful influence in the accomplishment of the great achievement.
Extension of the Call news service, purchase of improved mechanical equipment of the plant, and the installation of an Art department were subjects that at once engaged the attention of Mr. Spreckels upon his acquisition of the famous newspaper property. The establishment was removed from its old home on Clay street into a building on Stevenson street, near Third and Market. A large and rapidly increasing circulation demanded additional press facilities, hence new presses of the most approved style were added to the plant. The Art Department of the Call was placed under the direction of competent artists and means were provided to render the department of illustration complete and modern in every detail. The Call is recognized far and wide as the best illustrated daily newspaper in the United States. The news service of the Call is probably not surpassed in the world. Agencies established [page 148] on the Pacific coast when J. W. Simonton was at the head of the Associated Press continue to supply the paper with news. The Call holds a regular franchise in the Associated Press, the great news-collecting agent of the world. Exclusive right to a special service of world-wide renown is also maintained.
The Call possesses one advantage as a news collector which perhaps no other paper in the United States holds. In every city of the globe the vast commercial and shipping interests of the Spreckelses are represented by a resident agent. It occasionally happens that the agent gets information hours ahead of the most alert special correspondent. As an illustration of news paper enterprise the incident cited that the Call displayed a bulletin announcing the practical declaration of war by Japan two days before the reception of the news through the ordinary channels. One of the local achievements brought by the paper was on the occasion of the return of the First California Regiment from the scene of war in the Philippines. The Marconi System of wireless telegraphy was employed to signal the coming of the transport. Operators of the system were placed aboard a ship stationed outside the Heads, one of the signals was flashed through the fog to receiving instruments at the Cliff House. In this manner the immediate home coming of the transport Sherman was made known to the legions assembled in San Francisco to celebrate the event some time before the ship was sighted by the lookout of the Merchants' Exchange. The San Francisco Call gave to the reading constituency of the Pacific coast the first accurate account of the battle in Manila Bay. The graphic description of the engagement was wired by special correspond correspondent Stickney, who was aboard Admiral Dewey's flagship Olympia throughout the memorable battle.
The Call published exclusively the first intelligence given to the civilized word of the great Samoan battle in which American and British marines were ambushed and slain by the native warriors. The special message of 200 words was cabled from Auckland to San Francisco at a price approximating $2.00 a word. The special correspondent was a purser of the Oceanic Steamship Company.
The Call has always taken an active interest in political affairs. The owner of the paper is a Republican of the independent type, but he reserves the right to resist the election of an unworthy nominee of his own political [page 149] faith. He has represented the Republican party in the state and national conventions and has served as the representative of California in the Republican national convention. The political alignments and conditions in California have at times been somewhat peculiar. Contests within a party have been of greater significance than battles between the leading political parties, one aligned against the other. A record of journalistic achievements or events cannot be fairly made without reference to the memorable campaign conducted at Sacramento by the San Francisco Call in 1899 . Those people of the state that were elated over the prospect of industrial emancipation urged the Call to enter the battle for political freedom. The state had just gone Republican by a large majority and the acknowledgment of the Call's able leadership in the fight was universal. Then came at once an expression of public sentiment or a spontaneous demand that the members of the legislature representing the dominant party should be guided by the judgment of the voters, rather than by the desires of a great railway corporation in the selection of a United States senator. From every county in the state came the assurance that the Call's leadership would be welcomed. In the contest which ensued the journalistic enterprise displayed by the Call challenged the admiration of the newspaper world.
A large staff of expert telegraph operators, special correspondents, artists, reporters and stenographers was stationed at the state capitol. A dwelling house on H street, and a commodious office on K street were rented for the convenience of the staff. The fight hinged on the proposition "caucus or no caucus." The so-called organization of the party representing the corporate power resolved that the contest should be adjusted in caucus. The stalwart Republican representatives maintained that the battle should be fought to a finish on the floor of the joint convention. Day after day the legislature met and voted but no choice resulted. The regular session came to an end with the deadlock unbroken. At an extra session the battle was renewed and culminated in the choice of a senator whose election was accomplished contrary to the orders of the corporation.
Prominent citizens of every city, town and village of the state were interviewed as to what course their representatives should pursue. All interviews were carried by wire. The special wiring of fifty thousand words a day was not unusual. Fast train service was employed daily. The trains [page 150] from San Francisco to Sacramento were run at such high speed that the members of the legislature received the papers at 6 a. m. On other occasions the fast train service was extended to Los Angeles, Stockton, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and other cities.
Sensational features which are frequently presented in modern journalism to attract fleeting attention to the columns of a daily newspaper are not characteristic of the Call, as the management is guided by a purpose to exclude scandals from the pages of the paper. When public necessity of the requirements of civilized society demand plain speaking on the part of the press, the Call is neither silent nor timid. With a fearlessness almost startling the reading public, this journal exposes wrongs and delinquencies in high places. Careless and corrupt methods in the administration of state and municipal institutions are reviewed. Even the courts have been criticised in the interest of public justice. As a result of this fearless fidelity to the cause of right, libel suits calling for damages in the aggregate of $i,500,000 were at one time on the court calendars. Actions, other than civil suits, were also instituted. Juries, weighing the testimony presented, have uniformly entered verdicts commendatory of the newspaper.
Many writers of eminent ability contribute to the pages of the Call.In the old days, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), was a Call reporter. Prentice Mulford, Joaquin Miller, Charles Warren Stoddard, Daniel O'Connell, E. W. Townsend, George E. Barnes and Ina D. Coolbrith were contributors.
John McNaught became general manager of the Call on October 1, 1903. He had been identified with the paper as an editorial writer since 1895 , having taken the editorial chair when Charles M. Shortridge acquired the property. Mr. McNaught was a lawyer and literary man in early life and he brings to his duties ripe experience, wide acquaintance and a lovable temperament. Under his regime the paper is assured a long and prosperous life. He is generally regarded as one of the most accomplished writers and public speakers in San Francisco. In his managerial capacity he exhibits the forbearance and sense of justice that belong to minds of large caliber, and the personnel of the staff look upon him as the kind and considerate head of a large and growing journalistic family.
Mr. Fremont Older thus describes the aims and purposes of the San Francisco Bulletin:
The Bulletin, under its present management, is a spirited, outspoken newspaper of the modern type. It is Republican in national politics and usually in state politics, but is an independent rather than a strict party journal. In municipal campaigns the Bulletin picks out and supports good men on any ticket. The Bulletin's doctrine is that what the city needs and should have is honest, competent public officers, and not party men. This independent attitude toward the politicians has given the Bulletin very great authority and the paper is said to have a powerful influence on public opinion.
When there is nothing especial to be said about politics or public affairs, the Bulletin prints, instead of heavy editorials, light essays on matters philosophical, scientific or social, even when most earnestly advocating one side or the other in a political matter the Bulletin invariably publishes accurate news reports of the doings on both sides. This policy of stating both sides of the case fairly is a marked characteristic of the Bulletin. Partisanship is not permitted to color the news narratives.
The Bulletin is a consistent, earnest and vehement champion of municipal improvements. The paper supported the charter movement, the bond issues for parks, streets, sewers, schoolhouses and other betterments and is willing to take up any reasonable and feasible project for beautifying San Francisco, extending the city's reputation, and increasing its population or its commerce.
The Bulletin is not tied to any politician, but stands fast by the non partisan principle in municipal administration. It will praise a public officer for doing right and blame him for doing wrong. This impartial disregard of persons and firm adherence to a principle has kept the political course of the paper in a straight line and, together with sane and enlightened management, has given the paper remarkable prestige.
One of the oldest, best known and most interesting newspapers of California is the Sacramento Bee. It dates back almost to the days of the pioneers, its first number having appeared as early as February 3, 1857 . Thus the period of its publication covers nearly half a century, which is a great age for a journal of the Pacific coast.
Great changes have occurred in the state since the Bee first saw the light, and from the beginning it has exerted a powerful influence for progress and development. It has always given marked attention to the utilization of [page 152] the industrial resources of California, and has stimulated enterprise and the investment of capital in all legitimate industries. But most of all it is distinguished for fearless and uncompromising devotion to what it believes to be right, in political, social and all other matters that receive editorial attention. It has fought many a good fight for its principles, and often sacrificed what, for the time being at least, appeared to be its own business welfare. But the reputation it has gained for honesty, public spirit and unflinching devotion to its standards has built up for it a great clientage, and the relatively great circulation and business patronage it enjoys are the direct results of its bold and straight forward policy, joined to superior business enterprise and ability in every department of the paper. The prosperity and prominence attained by the Bee show that, despite all said to the contrary, it pays to be honest and public spirited in the publication of a public journal.
The Bee was first brought out by a partnership of printers as a morning paper, but since April 6, 1857 , it has been an evening journal Its original editor and real founder was the late James McClatchy, a man whose rugged force of character, ability and stalwart patriotism have left a strong impression the history of the state, and may be traced in much of its earlier legislation for the public good. He always stood up manfully for the rights of the people, and in opposition to special privileges for favored classes. No one was ever at a loss to know his position, as reflected in the Bee, upon any public question. During the dark days of the Civil war he was a tower of strength for the Union cause, and early in 1861 he gave timely personal warning to the government at Washington of the existence of treachery in the command of the Federal troops in California. That information has been declared by competent authority to have saved the state from falling into the hands of the Confederacy. And throughout the great conflict the Bee dealt sturdy blows for the preservation of the nation.
James McClatchy was a native of Ireland, coming to America in 1842 . Having experienced the curse of Irish landlordism he soon became identified with land reform in this country, and was the first public man in California to take up the cudgels against land monopoly He came to this state with the early gold seekers, and had poor luck in the mines before he took up his life work as an editor in Sacramento. One of his friends was the late Henry George, whom he encouraged to write the famous "Progress and Poverty," [page 153] after first starting him upon his newspaper career in San Francisco, where for a short time Mr. McClatchy edited the Times of that city.
In its first number the Bee struck the keynote of the policy it has since pursued by a declaration of independence. It has never been the organ of any party, clique or individual, supporting men and measures upon their merits and opposing what it believes to be bad. regardless of party considerations. It is unceasing in its fight for good government, local, state and national, and denounces every form of corruption.
At an early period, when agriculture was comparatively in its infancy in this state and the cattle interests were powerful, the Bee, under the conduct of its late veteran editor, began an agitation for the "no-fence law" that was eventually passed by the legislature, for the protection of the farms against injury from stock, making the owners of animals responsible for trespass. This law was a great help to the development of agriculture.
The Bee also led the great struggle of the people of the Sacramento Valley against the threatened ruin of farming lands, towns and cities by hydraulic mining debris. The mine owners were rich and powerful, and claimed prescriptive rights to discharge tailings into the streams. But while at first the fight for defense of the valley lands and homes seemed almost hopeless, public sentiment was educated to the need of battling for their preservation. Suits were brought, organization of valley interests was effected, and eventually victory was gained in the courts, so that the farms and homes were saved.
In many other vital matters the Bee has fought boldly for its constituency, but the mere mention of them would occupy much space.
Since the death of its founder, in 1883