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The Later Whig Papers and Their Contemporaries

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The Washtenaw Whig soon replaced the defunct State Journal. The first extant issue is volume I, number 2, August 18, 1847, which indicates that the first one probably came out on August 11. The issue of August 9, 1848, announced that J. O. Balch was to be associated with S. S. Schoff as co-editor and co-proprietor beginning with the next number. From the middle of December 1848 to March 1849, Mr. Balch's name was on the head as sole editor. But with the issue of March 7, Mr. Balch's connection with the paper ceased, and Mr. Schoff became sole editor until McCracken was associated with him. The history of the Washtenaw Whig is best told by McCracken himself:
This paper was established in the summer of 1847, by S. S. Schoff, soon after the demise of the State Journal. We believe that in commencing the enterprise, Mr. Schoff found it necessary to borrow money to buy paper for the first number. He was not a practical printer, and his only capital was a liberal education which he had acquired by his own efforts, and an indomitable energy. He hired the use of material in an office owned by Thornton & Arnold, and employed hands to do the work. He continued on in this way until the summer of 1848, when he procured the use of the press which had become idle by the suspension of the Signal of Liberty. This press, however, was sold in the fall to go to Howell, and the printing of the Whig was transferred to the office of the True Democrat. During this summer also, Mr. J. O. Balch was associated with Mr. Schoff in the management of the Whig. This arrangement continued until August, 1850, when the writer succeeded Mr. Arnold, and the Whig was published under the auspices of "Schoff and McCracken" until November, 1851, when Mr. Schoff's connection with it ceased. The writer continued the sole proprietor until April, 1855, when he sold the establishment to Davis and Cole. These gentlemen deeming the name of the paper repugnant to the new character it had assumed as the organ of the "Republican" party, with more punctilious solicitude than good taste, changed its name to that of the Ann Arbor Journal, under which title it has been published to the present time. 1

The Whig supported the candidacies of Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore in 1848 and of General Winfield Scott and William O. Butler in 1852. It naturally went down the line for Whig candidates in state and local elections.

Various items of interest fill the pages of the Whig. In February 1849 the editor suggested the enactment of a law which would require one copy of every paper published in a township to be filed with the town clerk for permanent safe-keeping. The student of local history would now be reaping the benefits of such a law had it been enacted. The town clerk, however, was probably less than enthusiastic about housing, caring for, and transmitting to his successor an ever increasing pile of old newspapers.

On April 18, 1855, Lorenzo Davis and J. M. Cole took charge of the newspaper, McCracken having discontinued his connection with it, and announced they would continue the Whig politics of their predecessor. In May, Professor Russel Comstock's discovery of a "new principle of vegetable life" called terra culture, which would prevent crop failures, was advertised. The professor disclosed it to the public in lectures to small groups and in private interviews. Later during the month the Whig was pointing out the miseries of polygamy in Utah and how much it was costing the British government to bombard the city of Sevastopol.

[Photo Caption]: 1. Lorenzo Davis, proprietor of two early Republican newspapers in Ann Arbor, both organs of the moderate wing of the Republican Party.

In July an unfortunate lady parishioner of one of Ann Arbor's churches was communicating a real complaint to the reading public in a letter to the editor:
Will you pennit me to say to Tobacco Chewers, that though all men are bipeds, all bipeds are not men, or they would not eject whole mouthfuls of tobacco juice into the pews of churches, during church hours especially. I think, I should be so unfortunate as to be obliged to sit next to one of these impolite gentlemen again, as I did a short time since in one of the churches in this city, I will ask him to take my linen handkerchief and use it to spit on, rather than my new barage dress should be spoiled by his Rlthy practice. I can wash my linen cambric without spoiling it, but I cannot do the same to my dress.

Davis and Cole were soon converted to the tenets of the new Republican Party. To indicate this to the public, as well as to show the separate identity of the Whigs within the new party, the name of the paper, "with more punctilious solicitude than good taste," in McCracken's opinion, was changed to the Ann Arbor Journal and Washtenaw Whig, which paper will be treated later along with its early Republican contemporaries.

S. B. McCracken had left the Whig for reasons of general poor health.
We do not wish our friends to understand by this that we are about to "shuffle off this mortal coil," for we have no good reason to anticipate such a happening at present; indeed, our health is as good as when we assumed the responsibility of conducting the paper; but experience has convinced us that we do not possess, as we can hardly expect to acquire, in a sedentary occupation, that degree of the physical vigor necessary to fill the several posts of Editor, printer, and financier with profit to our readers or credit to ourself. 2

Active occupations, however, soon bored the retired editor. His disgust with Cole and Davis, as noted above, and his last-ditch Whig principles got the better of him, and we learn by the columns of the Argus of July 18, 1856, that
S. B. McCracken, Esq., formerly Editor of the "Whig" of this city, has issued a prospectus for a "Fillmore and Donelson paper," to be published in this city, to be called the "Michigan State Register." It will be issued, (so the prospectus says,) about the first of August. Terms, $1.50 per year, or 50 cts. for three months. We think, unless Mc has able backers, he has undertaken a job in which he can make way with all the loose change he has to spare without half trying.

The Whig Party and candidates were not successful in the election of 1856, their last campaign. Millard Fillmore, elected Vicepresident on the Whig ticket in 1848, had become President on the death of Zachary Taylor in 1850. He failed to be renominated in 1852, being defeated by the more popular military hero, General Scott. In 1856 the last-ditch Whigs, thinking that slavery was a settled question, when in reality it was only just reaching its critical and violent stage, attempted to make an issue out of "native Americanism." Fillmore and Donelson were nominated by the Native American Party on February 22, 1856, and the Whig delegates accepted them as their candidates in their convention of September 17. Although there was a considerable popular vote for Fillmore and Donelson, they carried only a single state, Maryland.

It is interesting to note what McCracken has to say about his newspaper, the Michigan State Register.
Started as a campaign paper in July, 1856, to advocate the election of Fillmore and Donelson. The object, as set forth in the prospectus, was to afford to the friends of those gentlemen in this State a medium for the interchange of opinion with a view to securing a concert of action in the formation of an electoral ticket. Having fulfilled its mission, it was discontinued at the close of the campaign. S. B. McCracken, editor and proprietor. 3

The only extant issue of this paper is that of October 21, 1856, volume I, number 13, preserved in the Michigan Historical Collections.

Another interesting group of publications came from the press of the Fourierite Association, a group of men who believed in the collectivism advocated by Fran~ois Marie Charles Fourier in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. The Association's own paper was the True Tocsin, also known as the Alphadelphic Tocsin. No copies of it are known to exist, and nothing is known about it except McCracken's hostile comment that "it was without patronage, energy, or ability - a melancholy specimen of literary emasculation, and these facts must record its fate." McCracken disliked the whole Fourierite Association:
This gave rise to a hybrid brood of illegitimate publications, each of which we suppose will claim a notice in its turn. The office was owned by Thornton and Sanford, but the 'blue spirits and white, black spirits and gray,' that congregated thereabout, produced a disruption in the following spring. Sanford found it a losing business, and went out of the concern on terms dictated to him by others. The office went into the hands of Thornton and Arnold, who removed it to the Upper Town ....4

Perhaps some copies of this "illegitimate brood" will turn up so that an independent appraisal can be made, but until then, we are forced to take McCracken's opinion.

Another periodical published on the press of this association was known as the Primitive Expounder. It first appeared on January 11, 1843, with Richard Thornton, an ordained minister, and J. Billings, a member of Ann Arbor's Universalist Society, as editors. 5 The full title of this little periodical was The Primitive Expounder, Devoted to Theoretical and Practical Religion, Expounded in its Primitive Purity, Excellence, and Loveliness. It was a small sheet given over almost entirely to Universalism, though it also had abolitionist and Fourierite leanings - all dreary reading today - and it carried very little local news. The publication completed a year in Ann Arbor and was then moved to Alphadelphia, Galesburg Post Office, Michigan. With the issue of May 21, 1846, Jackson became the place of publication. On September 10, J. Ludington was named Ann Arbor agent for the Expounder. 6 On September 24, it was announced that John H. Sanford had purchased Billings' interest, and the issue of November 5 was again published in Ann Arbor. The office was moved to Crane's block in Upper Town, and R. Thornton appeared as sole editor. Orrin Arnold, formerly of the Michigan Argus, was associated with Thornton in the printing business, and the Expounder began to advertise for job printing. The last extant issue in the Ann Arbor location is that of November 30, 1848, but the paper planned to continue, for the prospectus of the next volume was given with the statement that 1,920 copies of the old volume were printed, which was quite a substantial number and bespeaks prosperity. McCracken says that the Expounder was continued for about a year after the move to Upper Town, and that Thornton and Arnold transferred their interest in it to the Sanfords, who removed it to Lansing. The latest extant issue, that of December 4, 1851, gives Lansing as the place of publication and the Rev. J. H. Sanford - he must have been ordained in the meantime - as editor.

Another periodical of this type was the Gem of Science. Its prospectus was printed by the Michigan Argus on April 15, 1846, and the first issue appeared on April 28.7 E. H. Sanford was editor, and it was a small thirty-two page monthly with no local items at all and nothing to distinguish it. One volume has survived and is now in the Michigan Historical Collections. Though McCracken was hostile to all the publications of the Fourierites, perhaps it is not unfair to quote his comment on the Gem of Science:
This was a 32 page monthly, aping the Fowlerian style, started in 1846 by E. H. Sanford, a somewhat eccentric specimen. It was printed at the True Democrat office until the location of the Association office in the Lower Village, when it was removed thence, but subsequently transferred again when Sanford & Brother became the proprietors of the True Democrat. There were three of the Sanfords -J. H., who was connected with Thornton, and E. H. and David, who composed the firm of Sanford and Brother. They were none of them printers, and the two latter used up a small property in a chase after renown. The Gem met a sudden death some time in 1847 but the public records do not show that there was ever an inquest convoked over its remains, nor is there any record of a legal administration. 8

There were two other Ann Arbor publications of the Fourierite press which are known only by references in New York newspapers. The New York Weekly Tribune of June 30, 1843, acknowledged the receipt of a semi-monthly published in Ann Arbor called The Future. On October 5, 1843, the same paper mentioned The Phalanx, organ of the Washtenaw phalanx of the Alphadelphic Association.9 Since Horace Greeley of the Tribune was interested in and promoted the Fourierite movement, 10 it is not surprising that the Tribune received copies.

The Native American Party had an organ of its own called the Ann Arbor American, which began some time in the autumn of 1846. Its appearance was noted by the Signal of Liberty on November 7 and by the True Democrat on November 12 of that year. It is said to have been started through the influence of Edward L. Fu"Iler and to have lasted only a few months. It was printed on Thornton and Sanford's press.

Two non-political periodicals of this early period which were published in newspaper form were the W olvereen and B'hoy's Eagle. The former was published "semi-monthly by Cap. Cudgel Jr." Only one issue is extant, volume I, number 14 of October 14, 1836, which seems to be entirely devoted to humor. If there is any political satire, it is in the form of veiled allusions of a local nature, impossible to detect at the present time. From an article in the State Journal of October 26, 1837, it seems that "Cap. Cudgel Jr." was James R. Adams.
The Printer's Devil at the Journal Office hereby tenders his compliments to James R. Adams, alias the editor of the Wolvereen, a gentleman loafer, and would respectfully request him not to take or carry away any more papers that do not belong to him, or in other words to keep out of the State Journal office: do you understand it, "Infant?"

Adams attempted to answer this in a long, pointless and uninteresting letter published in the Argus on November 2, 1837.

B'hoy's Eagle was devoted to humor and satire. The few copies extant were all issued in 1849, with the editor given as Col. Crockett, Jr. With volume V, number 1, October 11, 1849, the paper was much enlarged and the title shortened to The Eagle. An editorial of that day restated the policy of the editor, to "furnish a paper which shall be instructive and amusing, and at the same time be the opponent of vice and crime"; and the editor added, "I do not publish this paper as the advocate of any religious sect or political party." When William Derby presented a copy of B'hoy's Eagle to the Pioneer Society in 1887, it was stated that Charles Fox had·been its editor. 11 This was confirmed in the Courier-Register on January 17, 1900, in an article in which John Boylan said that he had set type for it.

In the reminiscences of Mrs. N. H. Pierce, first printed in the Ann Arbor Courier on March 15, 1878, and later reprinted in the History of Washtenaw County, 12 there are references to two other publications: the "Young Yankee, devoted to light reading and amusement," and "The Corrector, instituted to make crooked people walk straight .... " Of the former no trace can be found.13 The only other reference to a publication known as the Corrector is to be found in the Michigan Argus for January 24, 1844, and this indicates that the Corrector must have been a violent political pamphlet put out anonymously to "correct" certain political errors. The Argus denied paternity of it. Could Mrs. Pierce have meant the Lancet? 14

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