The first Democratic paper in Ann Arbor was the Michigan Argus, hereafter called Argus I when it is necessary to distinguish it from two successors of the same name. Earl P. Gardiner was its editor. The first issue came out on Thursday, February 5, 1835, and was a five column paper, 12 x 18 inches, of four pages printed on a Ramage press. We are fortunate in having a description of this mechanism given by one who was certainly a user of it, S. B. McCracken.
The mention of the Ramage press gives occasion to describe briefly that primitive printing machine, of which, at the time I write, there were a number in the State. The frame and platen were of wood. The bed piece was a marble slab fitted into a wooden frame or carriage. The pressure was applied by a lever and screw. The platen was but half the size of the bed, so that two pulls were required to print one side of a four or five column paper. These were the distinguishing features of the Ramage press as differing from the more modem hand lever press. The description is necessarily addressed to printers, who will understand the terms used.1
On July 9, 1835, the Argus was enlarged to five columns on a 14 x 19 inch page, a new and larger press having been purchased. It reported the activities of the Democratic Party and made definite bids for the Irish Catholic vote by occasional friendly articles and by exposing Whig attempts to capture this vote in spite of their basic hostility to the immigrant. It also lost little time after the state government was set up in the fall of 1835, in going after the federal government's legal printing, especially since control of the state fell entirely into Democratic hands.
When Samuel W. Dexter's letter appeared in the Michigan Whig on April 9, 1835, explaining the addition of and Washtenaw Democrat to the title, the Argus made fun of Corselius in a long editorial, excerpts from which follow:
The last number of the Michigan Whig appeared with an addition to its caption. If we have been correctly informed, this is the fourth time its caption has been altered, in the short space of about two years. We are not disposed to find fault with our neighbor, for changing his cognomen, or question his right to do so. There are some circumstances attending the alteration, which we feel bound to give a passing notice. The person who assumes the responsibility of the act, is no less a personage than Samuel W. Dexter, and he gives as a reason, that the Whigs "are Democrats in principle," and he "sees no good reason for not calling themselves so ...."
... Our readers will doubtless recollect the frequent and reiterated proclamations that have been made by neighbor Corselius of his independence, and some of them may have heard him say distinctly, that S. W. Dexter was not in any way concerned in that establishment.. .. In the first paragraph under the editorial head of the last number of the Whig, we have it stated in language perfectly plain and familiar, that notwithstanding all his assertions of independence, and all his taunts upon his opponents about collar presses, &c. that he is and has been but the cat's paw of S. W. Dexter.2
That the situation must have been difficult to explain away and must have hit a tender spot is evident from the tone of Corselius' answer:
It may be proper to state for the information of those who might be misled by remarks in certain papers, that Mr. Dexter has nothing to do with the editorial direction of the Michigan Whig. The proprietor of the establishment has an undoubted right to affix what name he chooses to the paper - whatever title he conceives to be expressive of its principles and character, though this cannot be entirely indifferent to the publisher. The present title is the result of a compromise between the parties who alone have any direct concern in the matter.
The remarks in some papers opposed to us, on what they suppose to be the management and control of this paper, though highly offensive to us, certainly concern more nearly the characters of those who make them. They are of a tone and character that no one who has any just sentiments of self respect, could allow himself to indulge in.3
On April 14, 1836, the Argus noted the change of ownership of the State Journal:
Dr. F. Drake has assumed the duties and responsibilities of conducting an organ of a party which we may now say exists in Washtenaw only in name. Who this Dr. Drake is we know not. As a brother chip we wish him well - and will always extend to him as he has offered to all of the "quill" the olive branch, .provided always, that his columns are filled with articles which bear the impress of truth and candor. From perusing, however, the editorial of last week, we are very much inclined to believe that we shall have occasion to set the Doctor -as we have had to do with his predecessors - right.
Here followed about half a column discussing five misstatements claimed to have been made in the editorial of the Journal. The article concluded as follows:
That paper of yours Doctor has rather a bad name. Your worthy and truly patriotic predecessor George Corselius, dodged about "like monkey sick or dog distract." Your immediate predecessor, George W. Wood, who thought the "people" had no right to elect Justices, yet who nevertheless worked a fortnight to obtain a nomination and then over exerted himself to obtain an election - did not add much to its good name and reputation. One lie a week Doctor and "not caught," is what is expected of a whig hebdominal. Five however and all exposed is almost too bad.
Twice in 1836 occurred that not infrequent accident of early newspaper work: the failure to obtain a supply of paper on time. It seems to have been due to undependable transportation, for the railroad had not yet reached Ann Arbor, and paper was not locally manufactured. The State Journal had the same difficulty, and in its issue of November 26, 1835, the editor told of the difficulties of getting paper from Niagara Falls. Transportation difficulties were no doubt the case with the Argus at this time, but sometimes it was the editor's credit that was to blame. One might infer this perhaps from the appeals for payment of overdue subscriptions that usually occurred in subsequent numbers. The lack of paper for the Argus in the autumn of 1836 caused considerable irregularity in its appearance.
In 1837 there were various changes in size due to temporary circumstances, until about November 2,4 when the paper expanded to seven columns and remained that size. It must have been on the whole a prosperous year, for in March the Argus was discussing the idea of becoming a semi-weekly.5 Nothing apparently came of this idea and no copies of a semi-weekly Argus are in existence. But there is contemporary evidence of the appearance of a campaign paper. A statement in the Democratic Free Press of Detroit on March 31, 1837, implied that the Argus had commenced a semi-weekly publication.6 The State Journal took notice of it jokingly on April 13 of that year:
Obituary. - The Semi-weekly Argus has expired; Its career was short, but inglorious. It served the purpose of a town election, obtained a puff from the Detroit Free Press, and now is numbered among the things that have been; It lived just long enough to gasp for existence, and perished in the attempt. Peace be with the manes:
"Take it all in all,
We ne'er shall see its like again."
Our imp suggests the following pathetic improvement, as expressive of "the party's" sorrow for the premature decease of this genuine Democratic offspring.
Sleep on dear babe, and take thy rest,
For Satan claims thee as his best,
True to thy sire, in ev'ry breath,
His will was done, e'en in thy death.
My time was short, and so is thine,
Be true to him, and ne'er repine;
Mourn not, dear friend, so kind and true
If justice's done, he'll call for you.
It is possible that the Michigan Times (published in 1837 and 1838), the Argus' campaign paper, of which one issue for 1837 is in existence, might be the semi-weekly seen by the Detroit Free Press and the State Journal.
The year 1838 was a very busy one in spite of the depression. The Argus carried the advertising of bids for the construction of the Central Railroad. The prospectuses of two new papers were published in the Argus. The Gospel Herald and Michigan Religious Observer was to be a weekly devoted to the spread of Universalism.7 Subscription money was to be paid to Reverend Nathaniel Stacy, and the name of George Sanderson was signed to the prospectus. The other paper, the Lancet, was to be established "to point out the errors, the follies, and the vices of the day, as discovered in our village and county."8 No copies of either are known to exist if they were ever published.
Beginning on Monday, January 14, 1839, the Argus published Ann Arbor's first daily newspaper, the Daily Michigan Argus. It had four pages, was very small in size, about 12 x 15 inches, with about three-fourths of the space taken up with advertising. The earliest extant issue is that of Tuesday, January 15, 1839. It apparently lasted until March 14. During this period, the weekly Argus was continuing; it was in fact nothing more than the news articles of the Daily Argus published together every Thursday under daily dates. From the half-dozen surviving issues of the Daily Argus we learn that the dates of the articles were often transposed when carried in the weekly Argus, but there is only one positive case where an article was omitted by the latter that appeared in the former.
When the Daily Argus ceased publication, the Morning Chronicle began. An editorial line tells us that it was hastily and unexpectedly gotten out and that lack of paper might delay the second issue for a few days. As a matter of fact, the first issue is the only extant one, and March 14 is the last day on which the weekly Argus carried daily dates attached to its articles.
It is not difficult to see why the experiment of a daily was not a success. There was really no need for it. The Argus of January 24, 1839, carried London dates up to November 25, 1838. The news from Washington was about two weeks getting to the interior of Michigan. When the news was from two weeks to two months old, another week made little difference.
The Argus was an extremely interesting paper and covered an interesting period in Michigan history. Although a Democratic newspaper, in appearance, management, and tone it was very much like its Whig contemporary. McCracken probably has the explanation for this:
The ethics of the trade demanded an adherence to given lines in the artistic makeup of the paper. Display advertisements and grotesque cuts were not allowed. Nor were advertisements in the form of ordinary reading matter pennitted in connection with reading matter. The first departures from this rule were in the fonn of what was called "Special notices" immediately preceding the advertisements. The editor sometimes volunteered a "puff," but it must be of his own coinage, and not furnished to hand.9
The Argus also had no hestiation in publishing harsh personal notices that would not be accepted for publication in a newspaper today, such as the following advertisement:
A caution - one cent reward. - strayed or stolen from my house, my wife Phebe, a smart, likely looking woman, about twenty years of age, black eyes, high headed, and well gifted in the gab, and wants to live in some village. Any person that will return the said Phebe, with a disposition to live in my favor, and warrant that her respectable connexion will not interfere, shall receive the above reward, but no other charges nor debt of her contracting whatever, and one half the above reward for the detection of the thief, if stolen. If stolen, it is supposed to have been done by the Reynolds or Cooper tribe, well known for rascality and dishonesty.Therefore I forbid anyone trusting or harboring her on my account, for I will pay [no] debts of her contracting, and I forbid no one employing her, for they must expect to settle with me, or I will put the law in force.
Homer Barns Leoni, Jackson Co. June 29, 1836 10
There are also two series of quarrels, one personal and the other political, that ran in the columns of the Argus. They are too long to print in the text but are given in Appendixes A and B.
Our whole relief program today is designed to spare as much as possible the feelings and the self respect of the people forced to accept government help. Such was not the case a century and more ago. This is an official advertisement of the Board of Supervisors:
PAUPERS! PAUPERS! Notice is hereby given, that the POOR HOUSE for this county is now ready for the reception of paupers, and that no charges will be paid for supporting any county Pauper else where, (except in the special cases provided by law.)
By order of the Board of Supervisors
E. W. Morgan, Clerk Ann Arbor, March 1, 1837 11
Not everything, of course, was harsh and indelicate:
Lost: - On Sunday last, in this Village, a Black Lace Veil. The finder will perform an act of gallantry, and confer an obligation upon a widowed female by leaving the same at this office.12
To the Argus belongs the distinction of publishing the first advertisement - at least the earliest extant one - of the most important Ann Arbor "industry," property rental:
A gentleman and lady can be accommodated with board, apartments, etc. in this village but a few rods from the public square; also, a few gentlemen can be furnished with board.
Enquire at the postoffice for further information.13
While the War of 1812 was the last shooting affair we had with England, it took a long time for anti-British feeling to subside, particularly in the Old Northwest. It was stimulated in 1837 and 1838 by the Patriot War in Canada, which was a revolt of Upper or Western Canada against Lower or Eastern Canadian domination. Michigan papers, especially the Argus, were full of news of the Patriot War. The United States was officially friendly to the British government, but not all the proclamations of the federal government nor all the vigilance of the state governments could keep down the surge of anti-British feeling, expressed actively in the form of substantial assistance to the rebels. The basis of this feeling was not only sympathy with a move for independence similar to our own but also a lingering hope that Canada could be persuaded or forced to become United States territory. Large numbers of United States citizens fled across the border into Canada to assist the Patriots contrary to the official neutrality stand.
When the revolt was suppressed, punishment was of course meted out to the ringleaders. Among those executed in 1839, the Argus reported, were Hiram B. Lynn of Ann Arbor and Harrison P. Goodrich of Dexter.l4 It would be most interesting to know whether the former could have been "Cyrus Whicher," the restless schoolteacher hired by the district of Montacute and later executed in this revolt, depicted by Mrs. Caroline M. Kirkland in her book of frontier life, A New Home: or Life in the Clearings.15
I cannot overstress the fact that politics dominated the life of the early newspaper. Until 1837, Michigan was solidly Democratic. Depression came on with wildcat banks and unsound currency. Politics shifted, and the Whigs came in on the crest of the wave that swept the Democrats out. In 1839, Michigan and Washtenaw went Whig, so the Democratic newspapers, including the Argus, lost the county and state advertising. The Democrats held the federal government until March 1841, and all the postmasters were Democratic until the removals began. No matter which party was in office, the mail system was often the subject of newspaper jibes:
"Don't be in a hurry," as the mail-coach said, when the snail went by. 16
McCracken has something to say about the occasional language of the press:
The press of the past was not perfect by any means. Its faults should not be overlooked. In one respect, at least, it bore a taint that was not to its credit. A custom of speaking bitterly, malignantly and abusively of opponents and of competitors in the same field, was not inaptly characterized as "the leprosy of the press." But a ready explanation of this trait is to be found in the environment of the time. Party spirit was at its height. The editors of the day were molders of public opinion. Their weapons were thoughts, clothed in terms vigorous if not always the most elegant. An intense individualism breathed through their columns. That they sometimes aimed their batteries recklessly and ruthlessly, was in the order of sequence in which they moved. The press of today shows a marked reformation in this respect. But with the personalities that formerly marked as well as marred the press, has departed much of that individualism that gave to it its flavor and relish. 17
A sample of this "leprosy of the press" is from the Argus of October 5, 1838, and is part of an editorial discussing misstatements in the State Journal:
Why, you lying varmint! you miserable toad-eater! you halfwitted blackguard! you abortion! you starveling, that came into the world half-made up, to snarl and bite, to bark and growl, to howl - frighten kittens and scare chickens from the hen-roost! you knew when you first made the assertion ... that it was a lie - every inch a lie.
But the Argus realized the indecorum of such language. At the end of the special election held in January 1839 to fill the vacancy in the Michigan House of Representatives caused by the death of Calvin Smith, the Argus heaved an editorial sigh of relief:
We presume, that most of our readers as well as ourselves, are heartily glad that the election is past; for they with us, must be tired of the mere drivel of party politics. The idle cant and common slang, which is now deemed necessary by a corrupted taste to assist in the success of candidates, we have always despised, but as Dryden says, "The follies of the age must be humored." 18
The State Journal reprinted the above with the following comment:
A beautiful compliment to your party, which we have no right to gainsay. But we think it altogether an ungracious thing (however true it may be) to tell one's party that its "taste is so corrupted" as to consider "idle cant and common slang necessary to the success of its candidates." This confession only confirms the opinion we have long held, that a party so corrupt in its "tastes" as well as its principles, ought to be speedily put down before it corrupts the whole com
The Argus could not let the matter drop but retaliated in a heated article:
In our last Monday's paper, we barely alluded to that taste for "idle cant and common slang" so generally prevalent about election times, and called it "corrupted." The remark, we thought applicable to one party as the other, but the "all decent" Joumal seems to have thought otherwise, and endeavors with an ill-grace to charge it upon the democratic party alone. Now the reader, has only to tum to the files of that paper and call up in his mind the disgraceful proceeding, of some of the leaders of the federal party at their meeting at Mr. Goodrich's hotel on Friday evening before the election, and he will most readily see, that not only a "corrupted taste," but a vicious one is sometimes approved, when men can address a public assemblage and make use of profanity, can call their fellows, who are equally as honorable as themselves, "SCOUNDRELS AND VILLAINS" and institute comparisons low and vile without rebuke or censure, we think public "taste" must be "corrupted," and a party taste most degraded nothwithstanding what the Journal claims to be the "all decency" party.20
The issue of July 25 (August 2 on the inside sheet), 1839, is the latest extant one of the weekly Michigan Argus. At this time the equipment was sold to T. N. Calkins who changed the name to the Democratic Herald. Volume I, number 4, September 18, 1839, is the first surviving issue. September 18 of that year was a Wednesday, and as the Herald was a weekly, the probable date of volume I, number 1 would be August 28. Relatively few issues still remain. Sometime in the middle of 1840 Calkins took a partner by the name of Anent; only one extant issue, that of June 20, 1840, bears the name of Calkins and Anent. During the campaign of 1840, in which Harrison defeated Van Buren, the Herald published a separate political paper called the Michigan Times. Its prospectus stated that it was to be "like the one published two years ago." 21
A number of interesting miscellaneous articles appeared in the columns of the Herald. Beginning with the end of 1840, the Herald published each week a list of questions which were to be studied by Reverend Francis A. Cuming's Bible class. It is somewhat surprising to find that among the questions on Genesis, Chapter I, it was felt necessary to include the following:
What theory as to the age of the world does the Mosaic account controvert? 22
Early in 1841, the Herald published a long comparison between the census of 1834 and that of 1840, a few excerpts from which are given here:
Michigan in 1834 and 1840
In 1834 Michigan had only 87 thousand inhabitants. Now, the census of 1840 shows she contains more than 211 thousand ....
Then the cows, oxen, and horses lived on what was called Roman Catholic hay and browse -the twigs of the trees and the grass of the marshes. Last year her cultivated meadows produced one hundred thousand tons of English hay.
Under the head of "distilled liquors," we find matter for astonishment and regret. There are no less than thirty-three distilleries and fourteen breweries, producing one million three hundred thousand gallons of the filthy beer and accursed fire-water, to be the cause of drunkenness, poverty, misery, crimes, and death ....23
The editor was also disturbed by the manners of the younger generation:
WHAT I LIKE TO SEE
I like to see a young man visit coffee houses, and spend 25 or 50 cents a day for "bitters," it shows a disposition to encourage trade.
I like to see gentlemen make use of profane language before ladies, it shows they are not the least "embarrassed" in their company.
I like to see men when they are at church or other places, spit on the floor and walls, it looks "neat but not gaudy."
I like to see young ladies when they go to church freely and openly discuss the topics of the day, it shows they are uncompromising opponents of "gag laws."
I like to see a man when the minister is praying in church, looking first at the minister, then at somebody else, it shows a disposition to obey the command, "watch as well as pray."
I like to see a young man or lady propose card playing with their religious companions, it shows they have respect for their feelings, by "doing as they would be done by."
I like to see parents permit their sons to run about the streets until ten or eleven o'clock at night, it shows they are great lovers of "liberty and freedom."24
The art of photography reached Ann Arbor at a very early date:
Accurate likenesses. - Our citizens can at length avail themselves of the astonishing art of taking with great accuracy likenesses on silver plates, without pen, pencil or brush or manual operation, by the mere chemical prepared metallic surface. You sit down -the plate is placed before you -in a few seconds you arise -and there, upon the plate as indestructible as the soul, is fixed the exact image of the man, in dark colors that never fade. The art is well practiced by Mr. Charles C. Rood, who, for a few days, will be happy to receive calls at his rooms in the Bank of Washtenaw. "Secure the shadow ere the substance decay."25
When the Whigs came into power in the federal government with Harrison on March 4, 1841, the Herald was not very cheerful. At the President's death one month later, the Herald was still in the same cheerless mood:
DEATH OF THE PRESIDENT
Gen. Harrison is indeed no more. In common with millions of our fellow citizens, we record him the passing tribute of a sigh.
He has fallen a victim to the reckless, atrocious and demoniac heartlessness of the leaders of the Harrisburgh convention who dragged forth the infirm old man from the peaceful retirement, in which he should have spent the remnant of his days, and launched his frail bark upon the tempertossed ocean of the political world. They knew he was too infirm to bear even the friendly shaking of the hand. - How, then, did they expect him to brave the excitement, the fatigue and the turmoil of constant travelling, speaking, late hours, crowded rooms and out door exposure? The course into which they urged the poor old man bro't on, no doubt, the disease of which he died. - They were the men who would not have yielded an available candidate had they known thousands, instead of one, were to become their victims. But he sleeps with his fathers, where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest. Let his ashes rest in peace.26
The Herald gave itself away completely with regard to its private advertising income:
The Pontiac Jacksonian asks, "Why don't the merchants advertise?" - and adds that the people "would be glad to learn where they may find the very best and cheapest of everything." The editor adds; "We shall, out of pure regard for the credit of Pontiac abroad, commence advertising gratis." Go it, Pontiac. Ann Arbor has no occasion as our advertising columns fully attest. Our mercantile advertising patronage for little more than a year, amounts to ONE THOUSAND - tenths of a cent - and that sum - one dollar - from a Whig!
Why is this? Is it because the merchants sell so low, when the farmers' produce is so high, that they make but little profit, and can't afford it? The farmers' prices are down, but the merchants' prices are up. 27
Five months later the situation improved enough for the editor to speak of it:
Lo! the columns of the Herald, for the first time, except one, exhibit a merchant's advertisement! We are half inclined to a puff, but a view of his goods and a call on the man will convince the public a puff is not required, as each will puff as he buys. 28
The Herald, like other newspapers, used all sorts of short articles for filler. Especially popular were humorous lines like the following: An Irish Sailor was riding on horseback and the horse caught his foot in the stirrup. Avast, avast, Dobbin, cried he, if you are agoing to ride double with me, I'll get off. 29
This type of story was current in frontier communities, the source from which Abraham Lincoln drew the stories he used so effectively during his Presidency. As told by Carl Sandburg, this is the way Lincoln used the above theme:
Steadily month by month since he [McClellan] took command just after Bull Run, he had given a political color to many of his actions and decisions. As a military man handling an army made up of citizen soldiers from all parts of the country, he assumed to be a spokesman of governmental policy, as in the Harrison's Landing letter of advice to Lincoln and Congress. According to Governor Andrew, Lincoln was asked what he would reply to McClellan's advice on how to carryon the affairs of the nation. And Lincoln answered: "Nothing - but it made me think of the man whose horse kicked up and stuck his foot through the stirrup. He said to the horse, 'If you are going to get on, I will get off.' " 30
The latest extant number of the Herald is volume IV, number 18, December 28, 1842. It probably continued until March 1843, when Calkins sold his business to the Abolitionist newspaper, the Signal of Liberty, which for some time had been printed on the Herald's press by contract. 31 McCracken comments on the editor of the Herald thus:
Calkins was a vain, arrogant man, tenacious of his own opinions, but quite erratic and his party became disgusted with him and his paper to such an extent that in the winter of 1842 and '43 he found it necessary to dispose of his establishment ....32
We can gather from some of the articles from his paper, "What I like to see," for example, that he was censorious, as well. But there is probably a better reason for the fact that ''his party became disgusted with him." Calkins inclined to the political temperance movement, and while the Signal of Liberty was printed on his press, he filled his paper with articles favorable to abolition. 33 The Democratic Party was hostile to both these movements - as political movements - so it is not difficult to see why Calkins lost support and gave up the business.
Ann Arbor was without a Democratic newspaper for a very short interval, if at all, for on February 1, 1843, appeared the Michigan Argus with volume I, number 1, herein designated Argus II to distinguish it from its predecessor of the same name. It was owned by E. R. Powell and Orrin Arnold and was edited by E. P. Gardiner, who had been the proprietor of Argus I. In the introductory editorial the customary generalizations were made about publishing a paper of interest to all classes and about reviewing the acts of government without fear or favor. On only one thing was the editor specific, and that was that the paper would be decidedly and emphatically Democratic.
On August 23, 1843, Powell withdrew from the paper, leaving Arnold and Gardiner to fight the campaign of 1844. As during the previous Presidential campaign, a special political sheet was published. It was to be started on June 1 and to run until after the election.34 It would support the candidacy of James K. Polk, the first Presidential "dark horse," and was called the Coon Hunter in remembrance of the campaign of 1840 with its symbolism of the log cabin, hard cider, and racoon hunting. The coon to be hunted in this case was Henry Clay. Of this paper, only a single sheet is extant.
The number of the Argus II that carried the complete results of the election of 1844 noted the association of L. W. Cole with Arnold in the ownership of the paper. 35 This lasted for a few months only, when Arnold sold out his interest to a Mr. Bennett. 36 In September, J. C. Smith became editor, and Smith and Arnold were the publishers.37 McCracken summarizes the history of the rapidly changing ownership of the Argus as follows:
This paper was established in the winter of 1842 and '43, about the time the Democratic Herald stopped, but we believe had no connection with that paper. It was published by E. R. Powell and O. Arnold, and was edited by E. P. Gardiner. Politics, Democratic. The office was brought from Constantine, St. Joseph co., having been brought there by Col. Munger. Powell and Arnold got along very well for a few months, but being both boys they had a flare-up, and Powell quit. The office passed through various hands, alternating between O. Arnold, Cole & Arnold, Cole & Bennett, Arnold, Cole & Bennett, and Smith & Arnold, changing so often that it is doubtful whether a process issued after banking hours on one day would have been good against the existing firm on the next. 38
In 1845 occurred one of those unfortunate affairs which plague every liberal party. The Democrats were agreed that reform was necessary but split into two factions over the question of how much. Alpheus Felch was elected governor of Michigan in the autumn of 1844 on a reform ticket. He had proposed a series of changes, including an overhauling of the judicial system of the state, and a proposal for the creation of an elective county judge, a policy which was not favored by the less radical members of the party and which positively horrified conservatives. Many conservative Democrats refused to go along with Governor Felch. As the radical wing for the most part controlled the Argus, it was the conservatives who withdrew from the paper and left the radical wing too weak to maintain it. In offering it for sale in the issue of December 9, 1845, Smith stated that the paper had 800 paying subscribers and went on to say:
Perhaps I am not sufficiently charitable, but it really appears to me that no man can be a democrat who votes for a Whig Governor against such a man as Alpheus Felch.
The paper was taken over by two members of the radical wing, Arnold and E. R. Chase, with the latter as editor. The title was changed to the True Democrat to emphasize their position in the party. In their opening editorial on December 19, 1845, they said:
We shall expect to find nothing of which to disapprove in the administration of Jas. K. Polk or Gov. Felch.
They continued the numbering of Argus II for some time but added a separate numbering beginning with volume I to indicate the new arrangement. In March, Arnold took over the whole management for a short period, 39 but John Allen was soon associated with him. 40 It must not have had any too clear sailing, for in October the overdue accounts were turned over to James Kingsley for collection to pay a debt to C. N. Ormsby, the operator of a local paper mil1.41 Sometime between November 1846 and February 1847, Arnold withdrew and Allen became sale owner and editor.42 This was Allen's last venture in the newspaper business in Ann Arbor, for he caught the disease known as "gold fever" and went to California, where he died on March 11, 1851.43 Before he left, he sold the paper in the spring of 1847 to Sanford and Brother,44 who continued it until May 2, 1848, when they sold it back to Arnold. During the summer of 1848 the True Democrat hoisted the Free Soil emblem to the head of its editorial page and campaigned for the Whig candidates, General Taylor and Millard Fillmore. For a while the Washtenaw Whig was printed on the True Democrat press. At this time the politics of the two papers were so similar that in the spring of 1849 Arnold discontinued his paper and took a financial interest in the Whig.45
At the time of the disagreement between the editors of Argus II, the old line Democrats began another paper, also called Michigan Argus (designated here as Argus III), on January 25, 1846, less than a month after the True Democrat began. It was edited by L. W. Cole, formerly of Argus II, and Gardiner of both Argus I and II. The important part of their opening editorial is as follows:
We deem the Democratic party the only party of progress and Reform, and shall therefore advocate all measures of Reform which we may deem advantageous to the people: while we shall conceive it to be our duty to oppose measures which may be ostensibly brought forward under the specious garb of Reform, but are really designed only for hobbies, upon which unprincipled demagogues may ride into popular favor and ultimately into power.
It is very amusing now to think of Governor Felch as being an "unprincipled demagogue." He was a man of the utmost integrity. He went from governor to U.S. senator, taught law at the University of Michigan, lived to a very ripe old age, and was a venerable and respected member of the community in which he lived. The "hobby" on which he rode to "popular favor and power" - popular election of circuit judges - did not work out very well at the time. The law contemplated a popular dispenser of common sense justice on a county-wide scale, much like the justice of the peace on the township level. It was soon repealed, but the popular election of county judges did become a reality and is still operative in Michigan. The conservative Democrats were forced to accept that ultimately, but it is curious that the Democratic faction that so strongly favored it became the radical fringe and then splintered off to join the Whigs and Abolitionists.
We have a glimpse of the press on which Argus III was printed:
The press on which the Argus was printed by Cole & Gardiner for several years was made by H. & R. Partridge, and was the first and only iron press ever built in Michigan. The inscription on it read "Manufactured by H. & R. Partridge, for L. W. Cole, Ann Arbor, Mich., February, 1844[?] ." 46
Argus III had an uninterrupted career of nearly nine years under the guidance of these experienced newspapermen. On June 29, 1854, they sold it to Elihu B. Pond of the Coldwater Sentinel, who owned it and controlled it for a quarter of a century, but its history under his editorship will be discussed later in this book.