United States. Congress. House. Committee on Ways.

History of the Chicago tribune online

. (page 1 of 10)
Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on WaysHistory of the Chicago tribune → online text (page 1 of 10)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


3 5^3 CJ53




^_^ l^-CU^ ^t^^t.



The Chicago Tribune

Published IN COMMEMORATION of its

Seventy -fifth Birthday -• June tenth

Nineteen /lundredand



The Chicago Tribune

The World's Greatest Newspaper

Copyright 1922
The Tribune Company



History of The Chicago Tribune 7

From Foundation to Fire (i 847-1 871) 10

From The Fire to The Fair ( 1 871-1893) 36

From The Fair to The World War (1893- 1 9 14) 49

The World War and After (191 4-1922) 80

List of Illustrations


Joseph Medill Frontispiece

Tribune Offices 1849 6

Tribune Plant at Night 9

Tribune ad of 1860 16

Headlines on Fall of Fort Sumter 18
Alfred Cowles, William Bross,

Horace White 19

John Locke Scripps, Charles H. Ray 20

Headlines on Surrender of Lee ... 22

Headlines on Assassination of Lincoln . 24
Letter from Lincoln subscribing to

The Tribune 26

Headlines on Burial of Lincoln ... 27

Courthouse before The Fire .... 33

Headlines on Chicago Fire .... 34

Horse Power for Presses in the Forties . 35

Waterworks before The Fire ... 36

Scenes during Chicago Fire .... 37

Chicago in 1865 and in 1870 ... 38

Headlines on Beecher-Tilton Case . 39

Headlines on New Testament Scoop 41

Headlines on Assassination of Garfield . 42

Corner of Madison and Dearborn Streets

in 1860 43

Two Compositors with Century of

Tribune Service 43

Robert W. Patterson 44

Headlines on Haymarket Riots ... 45


Headlines on Swing Heresy Case 46

Tribune Buildings before and after Fire . 53
World's Columbian Exposition,

"The Fair" 54

Headlines on Battle of Manilla Bay . 55

Land Show— 1912 59

Library in Tribune Plant .... 59

Tribune Building 60

Advertising Lineage Chart ... 76

Investors Guide 78

Headlines on Outbreak of World War . 79

Headlines of February 1, 1917 ... 81

Headlinesof February 4, 1917 ... 82

Headlinesof April 6, 1917 .... 83

Letter From General Pershing ... 86

European Edition of The Tribune . 90
Steamers built to carry Tribune pulp wood 94

Laying Cornerstone of Tribune Plant 93

How European Edition is Quoted 96
Daily News, New York's Picture

Newspaper 102

War Bill Boards Ill

Cross-Section View of Tribune Plant . 112
Airplane Views of Tribune Plant .112

Circulation Chart 113

Offer ofJlOO.OOO Prize to Architects . 120

"Government Statement" .... 123

Tribune House Organ 128

JLHIS BOOKLET is a reprint of some sections of a 304 page book
entitled "The W. G. N.," which describes in detail all processes
connected with the production of The Chicago Tribune — reportorial,
editorial, advertising, mechanical, etc. "The W. G. N." is sold by
leading book stores or will be sent post paid on receipt of $2.00 by the
Business Survey, 1711 Tribune Building, Chicago.



History of The Chicago Tribune

THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE made its appearance
on June lo, 1847. The office was a single room
in a building at Lake and La Salle streets, southwest
corner. The first edition, four hundred copies, was pulled
on a Washington hand press, worked by one of the editors.

"... but with every stroke of the lever was anneal-
ing the substructure upon which was erected the power
and influence that has not alone decided the fate of this
city, but of the nation. From The Tribune, that had
such an humble origin, have been uttered dicta that
have controlled the destinies of parties and individuals
of prominence in the country, and infused the people
with that patriotism which bore such glorious results in
the internecine contests."

So speaks an historian of some thirty-five years ago,
when the Civil War was still a part of the lives of the men
of that time, and the most important national issue the
United States had known. It is a little difficult for the
reader today to visualize the men and events of the past
century; we are accustomed to regard the newspaper as a
business institution, short lived as are the great businesses
of our day in point of their past. We are accustomed to
think of big newspapers, and The Tribune, as current as
the linotype, the giant presses, and the mechanical wonders
that make them possible. It is our habit to identify them
as things of Today; almost never do we regard them as a
part of history. Consider this item: that some six decades
ago, The Tribune was as much of a living voice as Lincoln!
Today, Lincoln "belongs to the ages.'* This morning, The
Tribune appears less than twelve hours old. The story of
The World's Greatest Newspaper is in part the story of
our country, interwoven with the lives of men and events
that determined our present state. And it is a great, an
inspiring story, that shows the sources of strength and
greatness which this Greatest Newspaper derives from its
historic past.


Links Modern West with Pioneers

The Chicago Tribune was a creature of destiny, as
much a product of the times it Hved and the events it
helped to shape, as was the Civil War. Essentially is it a
part of Chicago, and the Middle West. From a tiny ham-
let settled on a swamp has grown the fourth city of the
world ; an unsettled wilderness has become the most active*
productive part of this nation. And The Tribune, whose
growth and fortunes are indissolubly linked with these,
shared their peaks and depressions, their progresses and
retrogressions, their glories and their disasters.

You — addressing you as a mature man or woman now
doing the day's work of the world — and your father, and
grandfather, and great-grandfather, and The Tribune have
gone through four major wars together — the Mexican, the
Civil, the Spanish-American, and the World War; through
nineteen presidential campaigns, eight of which may be
said to have been big with the destiny of the people ; through
a fire that reduced the city to ruins — but not to ruin;
through an international exposition that established a
tradition of vastness and beauty which, in some of its
aspects, the world in three decades has not surpassed;
through strikes that disorganized the affairs of a nation,
and through more violent social and racial disturbances
that put panic into the public mind everywhere; through
processes of upbuilding and tearing down and rebuilding
that changed the face of nature over leagues of coastline
and prairie and that have given to the most humbly placed
man in the community comforts and opportunities, material
and spiritual, that could not be enjoyed by the richest when
great-grandfather and grandfather and The Tribune began
working together for father and for us.

Persons who so long have worked together in matters
so crucial — for the matters were naught less than the build-
ing of a world-city in a new world — ought to know each
other pretty thoroughly. They do.

The beginning and the end of each third of The Tribune's
three-quarter century synchronize roughly, but still aptly


To Fire, To Fair, To War, To Today

enough, with three distinct epochs in Chicago's develop-
ment. The first quarter century began when, within a
period of four years (i 843-1 847), the population of the city
had risen from 6,000 to 16,000. That growth was con-
sidered phenomenal, though the years following '47 were
to make it seem slow. This first epoch ended in 1871, with
the great fire. It comprised twenty-four years. It was
the epoch of great-grandfather and grandfather and the
time of their hardest work.

From the fire to the fair was the second epoch. It com-
prised twenty-two years. It was the era flamboyant of
Chicago — of bewildering growth, of great riches quickly
acquired, of boisterousness, of vulgarity, and of vision. It
was father's epoch.

And so is this one his — his and ours. Say that the
opening of the world war put an everlasting landmark into
it, it may be described as comprising twenty-one years
by 1914.

Now, as The Tribune starts toward the century mark
we are eight years along in the bewildering epoch which
historians of the future may designate as "The Great War
and After."

From Foundation to Fire


THE TRIBUNE was started at a time and in
situations that were both strategic.
City after city was falHng before Generals Scott
and Taylor and the Mexican War, fraught, as fourteen years
were to prove, with the peril of another war, was drawing to
a close ; Salt Lake City was being founded by the Mormons ;
King William IV. of Prussia, that kindly, ineffectual cry baby,
convoked a parliament at Berlin; the Roman Catholic
hierarchy was established in England; that magnificent
vocality, Daniel O'Connell, came to a rather pusillanimous
end in Genoa; Queen Victoria had been ten years on the
throne ; Sir John Franklin perished in the region of eternal
ice, and "Jane Eyre," the authorship of which was the
current mystery of the English-speaking world, was pub-
lished. And the rumblings of '48 were worrying Europe.

The population of Chicago was then 16,000. Our
country comprised twenty-nine states, with a population
of less than 20,000,000. James K. Polk was President of
the United States — our last Democrat president of southern
birth for sixty-four years, a fact large with significance.
Abraham Lincoln was 38 years old and Joseph Medill, still
practicing in Coshocton, O., what law there was to practice
and picking up in a flirtatious sort of way the rudiments
of the printer's trade and the editor's craft, was 24. The
opening of his Chicago career was eight years distant.

Capital was centered in the East. Boston and New
York controlled the trade of the nation. The westward
trend was a slow seepage that spent itself in the prairies,
lacking the great impetus that the discovery of gold was to
give in '49. Illinois' first railroad had just been planned
in '46, and the project was meeting with the greatest dis-
couragement. The stagecoach companies, vast monopolies


Galena and St. Louis our Rivals

of travel and hostelries, interested in stores and horses were
fighting it bitterly. So little did Chicago think of the
railroad that the total subscriptions of Chicago merchants
were only twenty thousand dollars. The farmers were
opposed to the railroads, and wanted plank roads to haul
their grain to town to market. The Illinois and Michigan
canal, destined to link Chicago with Mississippi River
trade, was still unfinished after eleven years of effort and
discouraging work.

St. Louis was the commercial city of the central west, a
promising metropolis born and thriving on Mississippi
River trade. Galena was the Illinois commercial *'big"
city; it and Kaskaskia had been considered rivals of St.
Louis, until Kaskaskia, with its ten thousand inhabitants,
had been wiped out in the Spring floods of 1844. The
destruction of Kaskaskia helped Galena and Cairo; Chicago
was not thought of as a potential big city. The state
government, even, gave its business to Galena and the East.

Picture, then, this frontier town in 1847. Built on
marshland, two feet above the lake level, its streets were
always muddy, and some nothing more than bogs.

Water was pumped through bored logs. Sewerage was
limited, insanitary, and primitive; three planks fastened
together to form triangular drain pipes, set six inches to a
foot below the street surfaces. The first school building
was only two years old. Trade was nearly all retail. There
had been a terrific boom some years before, from 1833 to
1836, which sent Chicago real estate sky high, and flooded
the town with a temporary prosperity. The panic of '37
left it in a terrible depression. Business men and merchants
were forced to go back to the land to raise food to keep alive.
So much selfishness and unfair dealing, both in business
and politics, were in evidence during the boom years that
people were suspicious of any public movements for a long
time after. By '47, the effects of the panic had pretty well
worn off, and Chicago was building again, more slowly and
sanely, but giving little promise of being a wonder city.


First Newspaper in Chicago — 1833

The two decades following were to be the most active
and the most fearsome in our history, when sudden growth
was faced with as sudden dissolution, when accomplishment
and disaster ran side by side.

* * *

Chicago had been a fertile field for newspapers, since
the inception of its first, in J^JJ. But the exigencies of
pioneer country, the constant change and not infrequent
disaster were too much for the journals of the day. Pre-
vious to the appearance of The Chicago Daily Tribune,
some seven daily and weekly newspapers had been started.
Of these, two were contemporary.

Newspaper history began in Chicago with the advent of
The Chicago Democrat, a weekly founded by John Calhoun
in 1833, and later brought to a position of considerable
influence by "Long John" Wentworth, a famous mayor of
Chicago. The Democrat became a daily in 1840, and was
issued in the morning. In 1846^ the issue was changed to
evening. *'Long John" Wentworth kept it going until
the time that tried men's souls in 1861. Then he sold out
in a mood of war panic and the property was merged with
The Tribune. Through The Democrat, therefore. The
Tribune may trace its ancestry back to the first newspaper
published in Chicago.

Subsequent to The Democrat came The Chicago Amer-
ican, a weekly in 1835, issued as a daily in 1839; and dis-
continued in 1842; The Chicago Express, a daily afternoon
paper, began on October 24, 1842, and discontinued two
years later; The Chicago Daily Journal, which grew out of
the remnants of The Express, and with various changes in
ownership, continues up to the present; The Chicago Repub-
lican, a weekly, started in December, 1842, and dropped
after six months; The Chicago Daily News, also short lived,
appeared from late in 1845 till January 6, 1846; The Chi-
cago Commercial Advertiser began as a weekly on Febru-
ary 3, 1847, later appearing daily, tri-weekly, and weekly
until its expiration in 1853. There were also a number of


Enter The Tribune — June 10, 1847

journals and magazines, devoted to various interests, but
none of these survived for long.

With this none too encouraging background, The Chi-
cago Tribune was started. Joseph K. C. Forrest, James J.
Kelly and John E. Wheeler were its originators.

As for The Tribune's personal appearance in 1847, the
liveliest paper in town liked it. That was the Journal.
Our sole surviving contemporary of those days looked
us over on the morning of June 10, and in the afternoon
printed its opinion, which was detailed, admonitory, and
instinct with neighborliness. A few lines of its comment
follow :

Chicago Daily Tribune — A large and well-printed sheet with
the above title was laid on our table this morning.

Our neighbors have launched their bark upon the stormy sea of
editorial life, proposing to observe a strict impartiality. We wish
them every success in their enterprise and firmly trust they will shun
the rocks upon which so many gallant vessels have been wrecked.

The mechanical execution of The Tribune is beautiful and reflects
great credit upon the art.

The chronicle of the first few years, however, is little
more than record of the changes of ownership — indicating
that journalism of that day was a precarious profession
and not the substantial business the newspaper is today.
Our early owners were more our projectors than our
founders. They did not stick to the ship or the shop.
They had other irons in the fire.

Before The Tribune was a month old, James J. Kelly
had withdrawn to devote himself to the more lucrative
pursuit of leather merchant. His share was bought by
Thomas A. Stewart, who assumed the editorship. Mr.
Stewart was shortly thrust into the prominence incumbent
upon his position. In an editorial, he suggested that the
government vessel stationed at Chicago might make itself
useful b}^ helping two merchant vessels into the harbor.
The Commandant, Captain Bigelow, resented the sugges-
tion and straightway challenged the editor to a duel.
Stewart published the challenge as an item of news. The


Medill Buys Share in Tribune — 1855

duel was never fought. The doughty captain abdicated
and thereafter helped belated vessels make the harbor.

In the same year, The Tribune bought the plant and
equipment of The Gem of The Prairie, which it continued
to issue weekly. In 1848, the second change in ownership
occurred. Mr. Forrest retired, selling his third interest to
John L. Scripps.

The following year was notable for two incidents. On
May 22, 1849, a fire destroyed The Tribune office and pub-
lication was suspended for two days. On December 6, The
Tribune installed telegraphic news service, the first paper
in the west to get news by wire. This was a startling
innovation. News from the east was commonly a month
or two old before it reached Chicago papers. The presi-
dential message, eagerly awaited every four years, was
considered well dispatched if its text reached Chicago by
mail or courier within a month after its publication at
Washington. The determination to get the news first, for
which The Tribune has always been noted, was manifest
even in that early day.

On February 20, 1849, a weekly Tribune was also
begun. The Gem of The Prairie was merged with this
weekly edition in '52. In '51, a syndicate of Whig poli-
ticians purchased the share of Scripps, who founded an-
other paper. The Democratic Press, in 1852, in company
with William Bross.

General William Duane Wilson, representing the syn-
dicate, was installed as editor. An evening issue of the
paper was also begun, but was shortly discontinued. On
June 18, 1855, Joseph Medill secured a third interest, and
Dr. Charles H. Ray a fourth interest, the firm name be-
coming Wright, Medill & Co.

It was eight years after The Tribune was founded that
Joseph Medill became a guiding force in it. He was then
32 years old. He remained a guiding force for forty-four
years, but to the end he had young colleagues. When his
grandsons took up their work as guiders of The Tribune


Medill had Founded and Sold Cleveland Leader

they were not so old as he was when he came out of the
Western Reserve to do his big work in the world. The
point of the allusion is that this newspaper, like the city
of its birth, has ever had the spirit of youth in it. It is
today what it is because it has marched with the genera-
tions; because it has grown with a community whose
growth is one of the phenomena of human annals. For
seventy-five years it has been a going concern; for sixty-
seven years its tradition has been definite and vital because
the ideal that sustained the founder of its greatness has
been the inspiration of those to whom the wheeling years
brought his tasks.

Joseph Medill was a curious combination of austerity
and aplomb. He was not showy, but he was sternly per-
vasive. He seems never to have cared for, nor to have
won, popularity of a flamboyant kind. But he was uni-
versally trusted, for his sense of duty permitted him no
evasions. He had a certain sangfroid and he was capable
of making and executing large decisions. To them he
adhered. His idol, if he had one, was humane common
sense. That is why he loved Franklin and why he was
loved by Lincoln. Beneath his formal exterior was a sense
of humor. Reverting once to the years of the late forties
when he was teaching school in Ohio, he told how he had
had to whip one of the boys who had been a leader in driv-
ing from the district Medill's predecessor in the master's
chair. "After that fight," he said, *'all the boys were my
friends" — a pause — **and," he added, with his sparse smile,
**as for the girls, I married one of them."

He came to Chicago in 1855 from Cleveland, where he
had successfully established the Leader, which still exists.
His purpose was the purpose of thousands of energetic
young Americans of those days — to "look over the new
field." Here he met Dr. Charles H. Ray of Galena, who
brought to him a letter of introduction from Horace Greeley,
who urged Medill to join Ray in starting a newspaper in
Chicago. They acted upon the plea by buying into The





News. Commerce, Politics, Agricnltnre, Science and Literature.




EtJitors- c<^l<^ 1-»ror>rit>.tors.


DAILY, - - in advance, by Mail, .... $7.00 per annum.
TRI-WEEKLY, " " .... 4.00

WEEKLY, single subscribers, in advance, - - L50 "

" two copies, " ... 2.50 "

" four copies, " ... 5.OO "

" five copies, " ... 6.00 "

" ten copies, " ... 10.00 "

" twenty copies, (and 1 to getter up^ of club,) 20.00 "

The Ciiuxi.o Press & Tribi.nk is ilesigned to be a full and fiiir exponent of the GREAT
NORTH-WEST. To that end it keeps constantty in the fielil a large and efficient corps of
assistant editor.', reporters, and correspondents, who are engaged in procuring, systematizing
and collating all manner of information respecting every locality embraced in the North- Wes-
tern States and Territories. Articles of this description appear in every issue of our paper,
and have already nwdc for it a reputation in this r<>«pect second to no other paper in the whole

In price and size of sheet, amount and fresliness of intelligeiioe, variety uiid value of
information, fullness and accuracy of Conunercial matter, and in whatever else goes to make
up a first-class Newspaper, we challenjre comparison witli any other journal East or West.

In Politics, the Pre.ss & TribInk is on the side of FREE LABOR. Aa an exponent of the
Xorth-West, which ha-; been made great throufrh free labor, it <'Ould not suece.^sfiilly fulfil its
mission, were it to remain neutral on so vital a question.

Parties abroad, who may desire ro advertise in a paper having a general circulation
throughout the Xorth-We.st, will find the PREot; & TRiBr.vK the best possible medium of com-

Its circulation is krcer tlLiit that of anv other paper West of the seaboard cities

In /<?5^ The Tribune absorbed The Chicago Democratic Press
and for two years thereafter was known as The Press and
Tribune. The above is a reproduction of one side of an adver-
tisement sent out at that time. The other side asks for job
printing. The job printing department was in charge of
William H. Rand^ superintendent^ and Andrew J. McNally,


Advance Begins under New Regime

Tribune. Medill had sold his interest in the Cleveland
Leader to Edwin Cowles, but Edwin's brother, Alfred, came
to Chicago with Medill. For a year he served the new
firm of Ray & Medill as bookkeeper and then he, too, bought
into the property. In 1858, The Tribune absorbed the
Democratic Press, and that brought into the firm Deacon
William Bross, a grand old Cromwellian of the early days
of Chicago Presbyterianism, and John Locke Scripps, who
stayed with us between two and three years, becoming in
1 861 the Lincoln-appointed postmaster of Chicago. For
two years the paper was known as The Press and Tribune,
but then reverted to The Chicago Tribune. Dr. Ray sold
out in 1863, and Mr. Medill became editor-in-chief.

Thus with Medill, Cowles, and Bross was founded the
original **Tribune family," which, growing later to include
Horace White, survives through direct descendants as a
Tribune family to this day.

Among all these colleagues of his, Medill seems to have
been the driver — the man who, though he was all jour-
nalist, was also practical printer. In a word, he was no
empiric, though he was not afraid of experiments. To the
last detail of newspaper making he knew what he wanted to
do and how to do it. Through his initiative a steam press
was installed and the first copper faced type ever used by
an Illinois newspaper was bought. He had an abiding dis-
taste for the "other irons in the fire," and that was, and is,
good for this newspaper. "Alas," the great Hippolyte
Taine once said, "there are writers who were born to write
newspaper articles and who write only books." Joseph
Medill was not that kind of a journalist. His product was
not indifferent books but great journalism. He believed
that to prepare, to inspire, and daily to assemble excellent
newspaper articles was a grand work which demanded all
of skill and fortitude that good minds and honest hearts

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on WaysHistory of the Chicago tribune → online text (page 1 of 10)