Saturday, May 31, 2014

Framed and delivered

After reading my series on the 150th anniversary of the Concord Monitor, old friend Chuck Douglas brought in this framed copy of the May 23, 1864, first edition and presented it to the Monitor.

Douglas is a prominent Concord lawyer and political rabble-rouser, a former state Supreme Court justice and former congressman. Here he stands with his gift before the Concord Coach in the lobby of the Monitor building. The photo is by Geoff Forester.

Posts of the Monitor series, in the order I posted them are here, here, here and here.

Thanks, Chuck.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Touched with fire: Holmes on Decoration Day in Keene

For more than a century Memorial Day was observed on May 30 to honor America's war dead. It was originally called Decoration Day. The holiday was changed in 1968 to the fourth Monday in May.

On May 30, 1884, 130 years ago today, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. spoke before the John Sedgwick post of the Grand Army of the Republic in Keene. At the time Holmes, the son of a famous medical doctor and writer then still living, was a justice on the Supreme Judicial Council of Massachusetts. Later he would serve 30 years on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Holmes was a veteran of the war, having suffered wounds at Ball’s Bluff, Antietam and Chancellorsville and nearly died of dysentery. The 1946 book Touched with Fire consists of his Civil War letters. He was 33 years old when he spoke at Keene, and he titled the talk “In Our Youth Our Hearts Were Touched with Fire.”

Here is the speech, edited slightly for length:

“Not long ago I heard a young man ask why people still kept up Memorial Day, and it set me thinking of the answer. Not the answer that you and I should give to each other – not the expression of those feelings that, so long as you live, will make this day sacred to memories of love and grief and heroic youth – but an answer which should command the assent of those who do not share our memories, and in which we of the North and our brethren of the South could join in perfect accord.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., 20th Mass. Volunteers 
“So far as this last is concerned, to be sure, there is no trouble. The soldiers who were doing their best to kill one another felt less of personal hostility, I am very certain, than some who were not imperiled by their mutual endeavors. I have heard more than one of those who had been gallant and distinguished officers on the Confederate side say that they had had no such feeling. I know that I and those whom I knew best had not.

“We believed that it was most desirable that the North should win; we believed in the principle that the Union is indissoluble; we, or many of us at least, also believed that the conflict was inevitable, and that slavery had lasted long enough. But we equally believed that those who stood against us held just as sacred convictions that were the opposite of ours, and we respected them as every man with a heart must respect those who give all for their belief.

“The experience of battle soon taught its lesson even to those who came into the field more bitterly disposed. You could not stand up day after day in those indecisive contests where overwhelming victory was impossible because neither side would run as they ought when beaten, without getting at least something of the same brotherhood for the enemy that the north pole of a magnet has for the south – each working in an opposite sense to the other, but each unable to get along without the other.

“As it was then, it is now. The soldiers of the war need no explanations; they can join in commemorating a soldier’s death with feelings not different in kind, whether he fell toward them or by their side.

“But Memorial Day may and ought to have a meaning also for those who do not share our memories.  It celebrates and solemnly reaffirms from year to year a national act of enthusiasm and faith. It embodies in the most impressive form our belief that to act with enthusiasm and faith is the condition of acting greatly.

“To fight out a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might. More than that, you must be willing to commit yourself to a course, perhaps a long and hard one, without being able to foresee exactly where you will come out. All that is required of you is that you should go somewhere as hard as ever you can. The rest belongs to fate.

“When it was felt so deeply as it was on both sides that a man ought to take part in the war unless some conscientious scruple or strong practical reason made it impossible, was that feeling simply the requirement of a local majority that their neighbors should agree with them? I think not: I think the feeling was right – in the South as in the North. I think that, as life is action and passion, it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived.

“If this be so, the use of this day is obvious. Feeling begets feeling, and great feeling begets great feeling. We can hardly share the emotions that make this day to us the most sacred day of the year, and embody them in ceremonial pomp, without in some degree imparting them to those who come after us. I believe from the bottom of my heart that our memorial halls and statues and tablets, the tattered flags of our regiments gathered in the statehouses, are worth more to our young men by way of chastening and inspiration than the monuments of another hundred years of peaceful life could be.

“But even if I am wrong, even if those who come after us are to forget all that we hold dear, and the future is to teach and kindle its children in ways as yet unrevealed, it is enough for us that this day is dear and sacred.

“Accidents may call up the events of the war. You see a battery of guns go by at a trot, and for a moment you are back at White Oak Swamp, or Antietam, or on the Jerusalem Road. You hear a few shots fired in the distance, and for an instant your heart stops as you say to yourself, ‘The skirmishers are at it,’ and listen for the long roll of fire from the main line.

“You meet an old comrade after many years of absence; he recalls the moment that you were nearly surrounded by the enemy, and again there comes up to you that swift and cunning thinking on which once hung life and freedom: Shall I stand the best chance if I try the pistol or the sabre on that man who means to stop me? Will he get his carbine free before I reach him, or can I kill him first? These and the thousand other events we have known are called up by accident, and apart from accident they lie forgotten.

Lt. William L. Putnam
“But as surely as this day comes round we are in the presence of the dead. I see them now, more than I can number, as once I saw them on this earth. They are the same bright figures, or their counterparts, that come also before your eyes; and when I speak of those who were my brothers, the same words describe yours.

“I see a fair-haired lad, a lieutenant, and a captain on whom life had begun somewhat to tell, but still young, sitting by the long mess-table in camp before the regiment left the state, and wondering how many of those who gathered in our tent could hope to see the end of what was then beginning.

“For neither of them was that destiny reserved. I remember, as I awoke from my first long stupor in the hospital after the battle of Ball's Bluff, I heard the doctor say, “He was a beautiful boy” [Lt. William L. Putnam, 20th Mass.], and I knew that one of those two speakers was no more. The other, after passing through all the previous battles, went into Fredericksburg with strange premonition of the end, and there met his fate [Capt. Charles F. Cabot, 20th Mass.].

“I see another youthful lieutenant as I saw him in the Seven Days, when I looked down the line at Glendale. The officers were at the head of their companies. The advance was beginning. We caught each other’s eye and saluted. When next I looked, he was gone [Lt. James. J. Lowell, 20th Mass.].

Lt. James J. Lowell 
“I see the brother of the last – the flame of genius and daring on his face – as he rode before us into the wood of Antietam, out of which came only dead and deadly wounded men. So, a little later, he rode to his death at the head of his cavalry in the Valley.

“In the portraits of some of those who fell in the civil wars of England, Van Dyke has fixed on canvas the type who stand before my memory. Young and gracious faces, somewhat remote and proud, but with a melancholy and sweet kindness. There is upon their faces the shadow of approaching fate, and the glory of generous acceptance of it. I may say of them, as I once heard it said of two Frenchmen, relics of the ancien regime, ‘They were very gentle. They cared nothing for their lives.’ High breeding, romantic chivalry – we who have seen these men can never believe that the power of money or the enervation of pleasure has put an end to them. We know that life may still be lifted into poetry and lit with spiritual charm.

“But the men, not less, perhaps even more, characteristic of New England, were the Puritans of our day. For the Puritan still lives in New England, thank God! and will live there so long as New England lives and keeps her old renown.

“New England is not dead yet. She still is mother of a race of conquerors – stern men, little given to the expression of their feelings, sometimes careless of their graces, but fertile, tenacious, and knowing only duty. Each of you, as I do, thinks of a hundred such that he has known. I see one – grandson of a hard rider of the Revolution and bearer of his historic name – who was with us at Fair Oaks, and afterwards for five days and nights in front of the enemy the only sleep that he would take was what he could snatch sitting erect in his uniform and resting his back against a hut. He fell at Gettysburg [Col. Paul Revere, Jr., 20th Mass.].

Col. Paul Revere, the 20th's commander
“His brother, a surgeon, [Edward H.R. Revere] who rode, as our surgeons so often did, wherever the troops would go, I saw kneeling in ministration to a wounded man just in rear of our line at Antietam, his horse’s bridle round his arm – the next moment his ministrations were ended. His senior associate survived all the wounds and perils of the war, but, not yet through with duty as he understood it, fell in helping the helpless poor who were dying of cholera in a Western city.

“I see another quiet figure, of virtuous life and quiet ways, not much heard of until our left was turned at Petersburg. He was in command of the regiment as he saw our comrades driven in. He threw back our left wing, and the advancing tide of defeat was shattered against his iron wall. He saved an army corps from disaster, and then a round shot ended all for him [Maj. Henry Patten, 20th Mass.].

“There is one who on this day is always present on my mind [Henry Abbott, 20th Mass.]. He entered the army at 19, a second lieutenant. In the Wilderness, already at the head of his regiment, he fell, using the moment that was left him of life to give all of his little fortune to his soldiers.

Henry Livermore Abbott
“I saw him in camp, on the march, in action. I crossed debatable land with him when we were rejoining the Army together. I observed him in every kind of duty, and never in all the time I knew him did I see him fail to choose that alternative of conduct which was most disagreeable to himself. He was indeed a Puritan in all his virtues, without the Puritan austerity; for, when duty was at an end, he who had been the master and leader became the chosen companion in every pleasure that a man might honestly enjoy.

“His few surviving companions will never forget the awful spectacle of his advance alone with his company in the streets of Fredericksburg [Dec. 11, 1862]. In less than sixty seconds he would become the focus of a hidden and annihilating fire from a semicircle of houses. His first platoon had vanished under it in an instant, ten men falling dead by his side. He had quietly turned back to where the other half of his company was waiting, had given the order, ‘Second Platoon, forward!’ and was again moving on, in obedience to superior command, to certain and useless death, when the order he was obeying was countermanded.

“The end was distant only a few seconds; but if you had seen him with his indifferent carriage, and sword swinging from his finger like a cane, you would never have suspected that he was doing more than conducting a company drill on the camp parade ground. He was little more than a boy, but the grizzled corps commanders knew and admired him; and for us, who not only admired, but loved, his death seemed to end a portion of our life also.

William Bartlett
“There is one grave and commanding presence that you all would recognize, for his life has become a part of our common history [William Bartlett, 20th Mass.]. Who does not remember the leader of the assault of the mine at Petersburg? The solitary horseman in front of Port Hudson, whom a foeman worthy of him bade his soldiers spare, from love and admiration of such gallant bearing? Who does not still hear the echo of those eloquent lips after the war, teaching reconciliation and peace? . . .

“I have spoken of some of the men who were near to me among others very near and dear, not because their lives have become historic, but because their lives are the type of what every soldier has known and seen in his own company. In the great democracy of self-devotion private and general stand side by side. Unmarshaled save by their own deeds, the army of the dead sweep before us, ‘wearing their wounds like stars.’ . . . I speak of those whom I have seen. But you all have known such; you, too, remember!

“It is not of the dead alone that we think on this day. There are those still living whose sex forbade them to offer their lives, but who gave instead their happiness. Which of us has not been lifted above himself by the sight of one of those lovely, lonely women, around whom the wand of sorrow has traced its excluding circle – set apart, even when surrounded by loving friends who would fain bring back joy to their lives?

Holmes at 32 in 1884, the year he gave this speech in Keene, N.H.
“I think of one whom the poor of a great city know as their benefactress and friend. I think of one who has lived not less greatly in the midst of her children, to whom she has taught such lessons as may not be heard elsewhere from mortal lips. The story of these and her sisters we must pass in reverent silence. . . .

“Comrades, some of the associations of this day are not only triumphant, but joyful. Not all of those with whom we once stood shoulder to shoulder – not all of those whom we once loved and revered – are gone. On this day we still meet our companions in the freezing winter bivouacs and in those dreadful summer marches where every faculty of the soul seemed to depart one after another, leaving only a dumb animal power to set the teeth and to persist – a blind belief that somewhere and at last there was bread and water. On this day, at least, we still meet and rejoice in the closest tie which is possible between men – a tie which suffering has made indissoluble for better, for worse.

“When we meet thus, when we do honor to the dead in terms that must sometimes embrace the living, we do not deceive ourselves. We attribute no special merit to a man for having served when all were serving. We know that, if the armies of our war did anything worth remembering, the credit belongs not mainly to the individuals who did it, but to average human nature. We also know very well that we cannot live in associations with the past alone, and we admit that, if we would be worthy of the past, we must find new fields for action or thought, and make for ourselves new careers.

Justice Holmes
“But, nevertheless, the generation that carried on the war has been set apart by its experience. Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing. While we are permitted to scorn nothing but indifference, and do not pretend to undervalue the worldly rewards of ambition, we have seen with our own eyes, beyond and above the gold fields, the snowy heights of honor, and it is for us to bear the report to those who come after us. But, above all, we have learned that whether a man accepts from Fortune her spade, and will look downward and dig, or from Aspiration her axe and cord, and will scale the ice, the one and only success which it is his to command is to bring to his work a mighty heart.

“Such hearts – ah me, how many! – were stilled twenty years ago; and to us who remain behind is left this day of memories. Every year – in the full tide of spring, at the height of the symphony of flowers and love and life – here comes a pause, and through the silence we hear the lonely pipe of death. Year after year lovers wandering under the apple trees and through the clover and deep grass are surprised with sudden tears as they see black veiled figures stealing through the morning to a soldier’s grave. Year after year the comrades of the dead follow, with public honor, procession and commemorative flags and funeral march – honor and grief from us who stand almost alone, and have seen the best and noblest of our generation pass away.

“But grief is not the end of all. I seem to hear the funeral march become a paean. I see beyond the forest the moving banners of a hidden column. Our dead brothers still live for us, and bid us think of life, not death – of life to which in their youth they lent the passion and joy of the spring. As I listen, the great chorus of life and joy begins again, and amid the awful orchestra of seen and unseen powers and destinies of good and evil our trumpets sound once more a note of daring, hope and will.”

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day in Canterbury

Today, my friend Mark Travis is giving the Memorial Day speech in his hometown of Canterbury. Together years ago, Mark and I wrote My Brave Boys, a history of the 5th New Hampshire under Col. Edward E. Cross. We also worked together in journalism for nearly 30 years.  

Mark Travis is on the right in this photo taken in 2001 before the Edward E.
Cross monument in Lancaster, N.H. The woman between Mark and me
is the late Faith Kent, granddaughter of Cross's best friend in Lancaster.
She was the town's historian and helped us research My Brave Boys.    
The Canterbury Memorial Day observance stars veterans from the town, including some who don their uniforms; the minister, the Boy Scouts and other young people, and the Belmont High School Band. Participants gather at the elementary school and proceed down the hill to a gazebo where the ceremony is held. The town cemetery, where several Civil War veterans are buried, is across the street. In past years children have decorated the veterans’ graves with lilacs.

Here is Marks talk:

The Memorial Day service in Canterbury is simple, and that’s fitting, given the simple purpose of the day: to remember those who sacrificed their lives for us in war. But today in addressing you I’m going to speak a little more broadly, not only about sacrifices, but also about choices and their consequences.

I want to talk with you about the young members of one Canterbury family and the choices they made at the time of the Civil War. They are the Morrill family, and most of what I know about them I learned from Sam Papps, a Belmont High student who is already a gifted historian.

It’s no exaggeration to say that without the Morrills, Canterbury would be a different place. They were among Canterbury’s first settlers, and they owned land up and down what’s called Morrill Road. The land upon which we are gathered this morning, the land where we are standing, was actually given to the town by a Morrill – the first of many contributions the family made to Canterbury over many generations.

This monument in the Canterbury cemetery was a gift from George Morrill.
So what about the choices the young members of the Morrill family made as the Civil War approached, about 150 years ago?

Let’s start with a girl named Sarah Morrill. Is anyone in the band, or the audience, 16? Well, when Sarah turned 16, in 1843, she left Morrill Road to work in the Manchester mills. She worked six days a week, up to 14 hours a day, shared her bed with another girl, and probably earned a few dollars a week. Not an hour, a week. How does that sound?

Sarah married at about 20, moved to the frontier of Minnesota, and then on to California in a covered wagon. She was a pioneer; it was a hard life. Her first husband died, and so did her second. But she lived a long time, becoming known as an agitator for women’s rights. She made it home only once, years after leaving Canterbury, but was loved by her nieces and nephews here for the wonderful letters she wrote.

So hers was a life of choices and consequences.

Sarah had a brother named George. Is anyone in the band 17? That’s how old George was when the war broke out. Instead of joining the army right away, George went west to Ohio. But in 1864, when he was 20, and it seemed the war would bleed the whole country dry, he enlisted in the army. He served in battles across the South until the fighting ended a year later.  He saved the life of another Canterbury man who had been shot in the groin and couldn’t move his legs, nursing him until he was strong enough for the journey home.

In time George came home, too, and took over the family sawmill at the base of what’s now called Morrill Pond. He was a big success. He built what’s still called New Road, which runs along wetlands for a mile and a half and made it easier for him to get the products he made to Penacook and Concord.

Do you see that Civil War monument at the edge of the cemetery? George paid for that. He also paid for an elaborate family plot in the cemetery, right inside the gap in the wall at the far end. And he paid for a bench at the back edge of the cemetery, creating a spot where he hoped townspeople would sit, look out over what were then fields, and reflect on family members who had spread across the country, like his sister Sarah.

So there was much to admire about George – but there was another side, too. After his first wife died, his second and third divorced him on grounds of extreme cruelty. He was remembered years later by some descendants not for his generosity or his contributions but for his mean spirit.

Choices, and consequences.

Charles W. Morrill
The final Morrill I’ll talk about, and the one whose story is closest to the essence of Memorial Day, was named Charles. He was several years older than George. Anyone in the band hope to go to college? Would anyone be the first in their family to go? Well, Charles was the first in his family.

Like George he left home at 17 for Ohio, but he went there to study. He returned to attend Dartmouth, and he graduated in 1863. Months later, he was drafted. By then the war was unpopular, and almost no one who was drafted actually served. Instead draftees hired substitutes, mainly recent immigrants, to fight in their place.

But not Charles. He did not hire a substitute. He set aside whatever plans he had for his life, and he answered the call. He went south to join the Eighth New Hampshire Volunteers, serving in Louisiana. Twice in battle the horse he was riding was shot and killed beneath him. And soon Charles, like many of the northern boys sent south, got sick. He contracted chronic diarrhea, was discharged, and died in Illinois, on his way home.

Choices, and consequences.

The death of someone so promising was a great blow to the family. When George paid for the marker over there, he made sure to note on it that Charles was a college graduate; in 1960, nearly a hundred years later, when their family home was sold, there was one family possession still hanging on the wall: Charles’s Dartmouth diploma.

In recent years, the young men and women of Canterbury and Belmont and from all around the country have been making choices like the Morrills did during the Civil War. As before, many thousands have served our country in a time of need, and as before, many among them have sacrificed their lives for the rest of us.

I hope before you leave today you’ll wander over to the cemetery and look for some of the markers I’ve described – and in so doing I hope you’ll reflect on the choices, the consequences and the sacrifices, past and present, that this day is all about.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A printing town, 224 years of newspaper history

This timeline of newspaper history in Concord, N.H., compiled from various sources, ran in the Concord Monitor with my recent three-part series on the 150th anniversary of the first Monitor:

1790 – On Jan. 6, George Hough puts out Concord’s first newspaper from a one-story building on the east side of today’s State House plaza. The paper is a 4-page, 9-by-14-inch sheet called The Concord Herald and New Hampshire Intelligencer. Its motto: “The Press is the oracle of science, the Nurse of Genius, the Shield of Liberty.” A journalist who worked for Hough praised his printing skills but found him lacking in “aptitude with his pen.”

On Dec. 7, the news in the Herald consists of this: “No Boston post arrived; all news, we believe, is frozen up by the cold weather. We have not even a report with which we can serve up a paragraph for our hungry customers.”

1792 – Elijah Russell, a printer in Hough’s office, starts the Mirrour in Concord’s North End. Before the turn of the century, Russell will add two newspapers, including the literary New Star, and a magazine.
Hough enlarges his paper and renames it the Courier of New Hampshire.

1795Mirrour expands. Price goes to 5 shillings a year, although barter for produce is common.

1799Mirrour and New Star fold.

1801 – Russell starts the first party newspaper in Concord, the Republican Gazette. It espouses the views of Thomas Jefferson and will last for two years.

1806 – William Hoit and Jesse Tuttle start the Concord Gazette. It folds after 37 issues but will resume publication three years later as a Federalist paper.

1808 – Hoit, a master compositor, starts the American Patriot. His plan is to have local literary men prepare the content during a long night’s work just before press-time. In Hoit’s telling, some of these men “became so full of good drink that they fell asleep, and so remained through the night.”

Isaac Hill
1809 – Isaac Hill comes to Concord. He is the town’s “editor of the age,” according to Frank W. Rollins, whose history of newspapers is a main source for this timeline. Another observer remarked that Hill wrote with “that electric force by which a writer upon political affairs imparts to others the convictions and zeal possessed by himself.” Hill is 21 and has just apprenticed at the Amherst Citizen. He buys Hoit’s Patriot for $300, renames it the New Hampshire Patriot and begins publishing on April 19. The paper’s politics are anti-Federalist, later Democratic.

1810 – Hill moves his operation uptown from South Main Street and opens the Franklin Book Store downstairs from his print shop and press.

1812-15 – During the War of 1812, Hill’s paper becomes a mouthpiece for the Madison administration. Circulation soars.

1818 – The Concord Gazette, which Hill mocks as the “crow paper” because of the look of the eagle in its over-inked nameplate, folds.

1819 – George Hough brings out the Concord Observer, the state’s first religious newspaper, with Congregational pastor Asa McFarland contributing articles.

1822 – John W. Shepard of Gilmanton buys Hough’s Observer, renames it the New Hampshire Repository and prints it in a building opposite the State House on Main Street.

1823 – Luther Roby, a printer from Amherst, starts the New Hampshire Statesman, which will become Concord’s chief Whig paper.

1826 – Hill’s Patriot outgrows its quarters. Hill has a three-story building built on the southeast corner of the State House yard. The Franklin Book Store occupies the ground floor.

The New Hampshire Journal debuts. By chance, its editor, Jacob B. Moore, is traveling near Crawford Notch when the Willey House disaster occurs. His account of the death of Samuel Willey, his wife, their five children and two hired men in an Aug. 28 flood brings big sales of the first edition.

1829 – Hill leaves the Patriot. Horatio Hill (Isaac’s brother) and Cyrus Barton take over.

1830 – The Journal merges into Roby’s Statesman, which has taken over the Concord Register and is published from a building on the site of today’s Phenix Hotel.

1831 – A member of President Andrew Jackson’s Kitchen Cabinet, Isaac Hill is elected to the U.S. Senate.

1832 – The New Hampshire Courier (later Courier and Inquirer) appears.

Jackson and Vice President Martin Van Buren visit Concord. Hill presents their party with a Bible and music scores printed in Concord. Six newspapers are now published in town.

1833Priestcraft Exposed, an anti-Catholic sheet, issues its first edition. It will last three years.

1834The Star of the East, a Universalist paper, begins publication.
Moody Currier, future governor, and Asa Fowler, future state Supreme Court justice, start The Literary 
Gazette. It will last two years.

1835 – On Jan. 24, The Abolitionist publishes its first edition. It will soon become the bi-weekly Herald of Freedom.

1836 – Isaac Hill is elected to the first of three one-year terms as governor.

1838 – The fiery abolitionist Nathaniel Peabody Rogers takes over the Herald of Freedom.

1839 – Former governor Hill and William P. Foster start the Farmers’ Monthly Visitor.

1840 – Hill launches Hill’s New Hampshire Patriot. It will last seven years, publishing weekly except during June legislative sessions, which the former governor reports on daily.

Born in Gilmanton, John R. French worked as a
printer in Concord. After the Civil War he
represented North Carolina in Congress and
served as the Senate's sergeant-at-arms. 
1843 – John R. French starts the White Mountain Torrent, a temperance newspaper, in Low’s Block downtown.

1844 – After a two-year hiatus, Augustus C. Blodgett revives the Courier and Inquirer.

1845 – The Independent Democrat, which breaks with the party to oppose extending slavery to the West, begins publication. A hard-hitting editor, George Gilman Fogg, will be its voice.

The abolitionist Parker Pillsbury takes over as editor of the Herald of Freedom after a bitter dispute between its former editor, Nathaniel P. Rogers, and William Lloyd Garrison.

1846 – The Herald of Freedom folds.

Rogers, the state’s most fervent voice for the abolition of slavery, dies at 52.

Blodgett merges the Courier and Inquirer with the new Concord Gazette.

Democrat William Butterfield, the Nashua Telegraph’s editor, comes to Concord to edit the New Hampshire Patriot. He and Fogg will duel in print throughout the years leading to the Civil War.

1847Hill’s Patriot and the Patriot merge under the firm Hill & Butterfield.

Using the nickname of Zachary Taylor, Mexican war hero and future president, True Osgood publishes Rough and Ready, a Whig paper, for 13 weeks. The Democrats counter with Tough and Steady. The two are among many campaign papers published in Concord over the years.

The Statesman's nameplate  is on Asa McFarland's gravestone(second line under his name). (Geoff Forester photo) 
1851 – In its 28th year, the New Hampshire Statesman comes under the editorship of Asa McFarland, son and namesake of the former Congregational pastor. As the Whig Party fades away, the Statesman will migrate into Republican ranks.

Isaac Hill dies on March 22 at age 61.

1852 – Cyrus Barton launches the State Capital Reporter.

1854 – The New Hampshire Phoenix, a temperance newspaper, begins publication.

1855 – Dudley S. Palmer and Edward E. Sturtevant, who will become New Hampshire’s first Civil War volunteer, start Voice of the Stockholders. This short-lived paper takes aim at powerful railroad managers.

1856 – The Democratic Standard, a fierce pro-southern, pro-slavery newspaper, debuts on June 10 in Concord.

1857 – The State Capital Reporter, now owned by Amos Hadley, merges into the Independent Democrat under Hadley and George G. Fogg.

1860 – Fogg accompanies the official party to Springfield, Ill., to inform Abraham Lincoln of his nomination at Chicago. He will become secretary of Lincoln’s national campaign.

1861 – Angry over the Democratic Standard’s pro-southern diatribes and ridicule of Union soldiers, a mob destroys the newspaper on Aug. 8. As its equipment and supplies smolder on Main Street, its proprietors, are hustled through the mob into protective custody.

Lincoln appoints Fogg minister to Switzerland.

1862The Legislative Reporter, published jointly by the Statesman, Independent Democrat and Patriot, begins its four-June run during legislative sessions.

1864 – Parsons B. Cogswell and George Sturtevant, older brother of Edward, start the Concord Daily Monitor on May 23.

1867 – The Monitor merges with the Independent Democrat under the auspices of the Independent Press Association. The proprietors are Cogswell, Sturtevant and two former editors of the Independent Democrat, Fogg and Hadley.

1868 – Asa McFarland retires as editor of the Statesman.

The Democratic People begins publication.

The New Hampshire Patriot becomes a daily. Along with Josiah Minot and Franklin Pierce, John M. Hill, Isaac’s son, buys a half interest. William Butterfield, the editor, owns the other half.

William E. Chandler
1871 – The Republican Press Association takes over the Daily Monitor. The Republican Statesman also comes under its auspices, publishing as the weekly Independent Statesman. The move is an effort by 
William E. Chandler and the Concord Clique to heal rifts within the Republican Party and silence the ever-critical Fogg, the Monitor’s editor.

1874 – S.G. Noyes starts the weekly Rays of Light in Penacook.

1878 – The Patriot is sold to the owners of the People and becomes the People and New Hampshire Patriot.

1880 – The newsboys of Concord publish the first edition of News Boy, which will become Christmas Newsboy in December 1882 shortly before expiring.

1881 – The Jug, 1¾-by-1¼ inches in size, debuts in December. Its motto: “Give us justice! Our paper is the smallest in the world.” It will rapidly shrink to nothing.

1884 – After a brief run as a morning paper, the Monitor becomes the Concord Evening Monitor.

Ira C. Evans brings out the first Veteran’s Advocate, a paper for the state’s chapters of the Grand Army of the Republic, the leading Union Civil War veterans’ organization.  Evans, a printer in downtown Concord, served as chief musician of the 12th New Hampshire Volunteers.

1885 – The People and New Hampshire Patriot, now owned by the New Hampshire Democratic Press Co., begins daily publication.

1895 – The Stone Trade News, devoted to the stone business, begins biweekly publication.

Mary Baker Eddy
1896 – George Higgins Moses, managing editor of the Concord Evening Monitor and a protégé of U.S. Sen. William E. Chandler, interviews and befriends Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science. Eddy lives at Pleasant View in Concord.

1898 – With the help of a $5,000 loan from the 77-year-old Eddy, Moses buys a share of the Monitor from Chandler. He becomes the paper’s chief editor. William Dwight Chandler, the senator’s son, becomes publisher.

1906 – Moses makes his last loan payment to Mary Baker Eddy.

1909 – President William Howard Taft appoints Moses minister to Greece and Montenegro.

George H. Moses
1918 – Moses is appointed to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy and leaves the Monitor editorship. New Hampshire will elect him to full terms in 1920 and 1926.

Citing rising prices for shoes and clothing, Concord newsboys strike, demanding one cent for each newspaper delivered. William D. Chandler, the Monitor’s publisher, and Edward J. Gallagher, the Patriot’s editor, grant the increase.

1920 – On Nov. 30, a fire started in the property room of White’s Opera House destroys the theater, also causing extensive water damage to the presses and equipment of the New Hampshire Patriot. The owner of the block is the newspaper’s proprietor, Edward J. Gallagher. The loss is estimated at $150,000.

Firefighters douse the ruins of White's Opera House on Concord's Main Street.
1923 – On March 1, 28-year-old James M. Langley, editor of the Sunday Manchester Union Leader, becomes editor and manager of the Concord Daily Monitor and the New Hampshire Patriot. With financing help from his family and from John G. Winant, a master at St. Paul’s School, Langley buys the papers and combines them. Winant receives stock for his investment.

In a signed editorial, Langley states the Monitor’s philosophy: “Its primary and guiding purpose has come to be the honest presentation of daily events that its readers may know what their neighbors have been doing, here, in the state, in the nation and abroad. In its news columns the paper will reflect no political attitude either in the text of its stories or in the display given them. We shall never become a party organ or the organ of an individual or corporation.”

John G. Winant

1924 – When Winant is elected governor, Langley buys back his stock in the papers.
Langley ends publication of the third Concord paper, the Statesman.

1929 – On Columbus Day, the Monitor leaves its longtime home in the Patriot building at Park and Main streets and moves to 3 N. State St.

1930 – Max R. Grossman completes his master’s thesis on New England newspapers at Boston University. He counts six journalists at the Monitor, two copy editors and four reporters. His conclusion: “The Monitor has an inadequate number of reporters, especially for a community in which the state’s capitol is located.”

1942 – For the duration of World War II, Ruel Colby, the Monitor’s sports editor, turns his daily column, “The Sport Galley,” over to letters from Concord GIs in the field and other news of local boys at war.

1952 – Langley acts as public relations officer for Dwight D. Eisenhower’s campaign during the New Hampshire Primary. He helps devise the campaign’s media strategy while writing frequent editorials extolling Eisenhower for president.

James G. Langley and Estes Kefauver of Tennessee,
winner of the 1952 and '56 Democratic presidential
primaries in New Hampshire, check AP wire for results.
1954 – Langley leads the U.S. delegation for Philippine trade negotiations, with the rank of special representative of the president. The negotiations succeed.

1957 – President Eisenhower appoints Langley U.S. ambassador to Pakistan.

1961 – Langley sells the Monitor to William Dwight, a Massachusetts publisher. Langley continues as editor.

1968 – Langley’s self-written obituary in the June 24 Monitor begins: “I died late yesterday afternoon.” He was 73.

Tom W. Gerber becomes the Monitor’s editor.

1975 – William Dwight retires. George W. Wilson, his son-in-law, becomes publisher of the Monitor and president of its parent company.

1983 – Gerber retires. Mike Pride, managing editor since 1978, succeeds him as editor.

1988 – Tom Brown succeeds Wilson as publisher.

1990 – The Monitor leaves downtown for a new building at 1 Monitor Drive.

1984 editorial board with Jesse Jackson. From left: Mike Pride, George Wilson, Jackson, Michael Birkner, Jay
Merwin and Ralph Jimenez. (Ken Williams photo)
1992 – The Monitor switches from afternoon to morning publication.

The Sunday Monitor debuts, with Mark Travis as its editor.

2007 – Publisher Tom Brown becomes president of the Monitor’s parent company, Newspapers of New England, Inc. Geordie Wilson, son of former publisher George W. Wilson, becomes publisher.

Felice Belman
2008 – The Monitor’s Preston Gannaway wins the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography.

Pride retires after 25 years as editor. Monitor veteran Felice Belman succeeds him.

2009 – Tom Brown retires.

Aaron Julien becomes president and CEO of Newspapers of New England, the Monitor’s parent company.

2010 – John Winn Miller joins the Monitor as publisher.

2012 – After Miller’s departure, Mark Travis becomes publisher.

2013 – The Forum, an expanded opinion section, debuts with Felice Belman as its editor.

2014 – Publisher Mark Travis leaves the Monitor.

Belman leaves the Monitor for the Boston Globe.

Steve Leone is named editor of the Monitor.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A split with Franklin Pierce, and a newspaper is born

Although the first edition of the Concord Daily Monitor was published 150 years ago, the events that laid the groundwork for the paper began in 1845 when a few brave politicians could no longer abide the spread of slavery.

John Parker Hale
This revolution took root in Concord and involved three leading political figures, all Democrats: Franklin Pierce of Concord, John Parker Hale of Dover and Amos Tuck of Exeter.

The storm began with Hale.

The state Democratic Party rammed a resolution through the Legislature instructing the state’s members of Congress to vote for the annexation of Texas. Because Texas would then enter the Union as a slave state, the resolution was a favor to the South.

Hale, a U.S. representative, was fed up with appeasing the South. He wrote a public letter making two points: The party had no right to tell members of Congress how to vote, and he opposed the extension of slavery.

Pierce, the party chairman, struck back with fury. In the Patriot, the chief party organ, he accused his friend Hale of seeking to split the party for selfish motives. He wrote to Hale breaking off a personal friendship formed when they were students at Bowdoin College in Maine. He demanded that local party organizations strike Hale’s name from the ballot for re-election and nominate another Democrat. The party complied.

But Hale had his supporters. Tuck, a prominent lawyer and state representative, was one of them. He wrote the Democratic Portsmouth Mercury backing Hale’s position. When the Mercury’s editor refused to print his letter, two big ideas flashed in Tuck’s mind.

One was to call a meeting in Exeter of Democrats opposed to the extension of slavery. The meeting, on Feb. 22, 1845, George Washington’s birthday, resulted in the birth of a splinter party, the Independent Democrats.

The second idea was a weekly newspaper to push the new party’s point of view. This notion bore immediate fruit, and 19 years later the Concord Daily Monitor sprouted from the same seed.

‘Shall we have a paper?’

Amos Tuck
Two weeks after the Exeter meeting, Tuck wrote Hale to ask, “Shall we have a paper under our control?”

Their movement’s success so far boosted Tuck’s confidence. “There is no danger of making our appeal in vain,” he wrote. “Heart answers to heart, and deep cries unto deep. Our cause is just, and that accounts for the fact that without any of the ordinary appliances or means of exercising power we have accomplished more than the Conservatives could with a powerful press.”

On April 1, leaders of the movement circulated a prospectus for their new “appliance,” a weekly to be published in Manchester as the Independent Democrat. The prospectus said the newspaper would oppose “all dictation, monopoly and oppression.” It would look upon slavery “as a moral, social and political evil, but yet such an one as our forefathers, in a spirit of compromise, consented to recognize in the formation of our Constitution.”

This was a crucial distinction. While the Independent Democrats considered slavery an evil, they were seeking to stop its spread, not abolish it where the Constitution allowed it. Abolitionists were still viewed as dangerous extremists, and the new party sought to avoid this taint.

The paper vowed to “oppose any further concessions to an admitted evil than are required by the existing obligations imposed on us by the Constitution.” The slavery issue “must be joined, and we have determined to meet it.”

Several prominent men who opposed slavery’s extension balked at the paper’s location. Dudley Palmer, a prominent Concord Whig, asked Hale why Manchester, “the resort of speculators and manufacturers,” had been chosen over Concord, “the place to do business with the political men of the State.”

“An editor here can do more for his paper in June while the Legislature is in session than he can in Manchester the year round,” Palmer wrote. He also wanted the paper published in the city where Pierce and the Patriot operated. “Virtue never looks more lovely than when contrasted with vice,” Palmer wrote.

James Peverly, another supporter, sent Hale a list of people who might be useful to the Independent Democrat. George Gilman Fogg topped his list. A lawyer from Gilmanton Iron Works with a sharp pen but little newspaper experience, Fogg had been a loyal Democrat. But recent events had made him “an uncompromising enemy of party dictation (who) sustains your course,” Peverly wrote.

Fogg caught Hale’s eye through a few articles he wrote for the paper, and Hale offered him the editorship. Fogg raised two issues. He worried that the movement might fizzle out and expressed reluctance to give up a promising legal career. But he also described how he would edit the paper and keep it focused on the antislavery cause.

“I view it all important that no blunder be committed,” Fogg wrote Hale, “that everything be done just in the right time and place – neither too much or too little – the paper speak on the right subject in the right tone – and that for the present it remain true and wholly devoted to the main object for which it was started. While it may take advantage of collateral issues, it should be subject to none of them.”

Quick success

The Independent Democrat soon moved to Concord, and Fogg became its editor in January of 1846 at the age of 32. Isaac Hill, the former U.S. senator and governor, took notice. In Hill’s Patriot, he accused his new rival of “rank abolitionism.”

George Gilman Fogg
Apostasy from the party in power in New Hampshire might have doomed Hale, Tuck and Fogg, but the opposite happened. That very year, over the yelps of Pierce and Hill, Hale won a U.S. Senate seat as a Free Soil candidate and Tuck was elected to the U.S. House. In the pages of the Independent Democrat, Fogg became an articulate and powerful voice for the antislavery movement.

In coming years, the old party system disintegrated as Whigs and Independent Democrats, though wary of each other, formed the core of the Republican Party. Fogg rose in the new party, attending its 1856 and ’60 national nominating conventions and serving as secretary of a congressional mission to investigate violence in Kansas.

Although he attended the 1860 Chicago convention as a journalist rather than a delegate, Fogg joined Tuck in the official party that went to Springfield, Ill., to inform Abraham Lincoln of his nomination. He was tapped to be secretary of Lincoln’s national campaign. Then, in the months leading to the inauguration, he lobbied Lincoln on Cabinet choices and other matters.

Lincoln rewarded Fogg with appointment as minister to Switzerland. Fogg left the Independent Democrat in the capable hands of his partner, Amos Hadley. Hadley occasionally printed a letter from Fogg in Europe, but his main task was to defend the war despite Union army reverses and defend Lincoln come what may. Although he lacked Fogg’s gift for incisive language and instinct for the jugular, Hadley did the job in reliable, solid prose.

A tie to bind

In 1863 and ’64, the Independent Democrat supported Republican Gov. Joseph A. Gilmore, as did the Whig weekly, the Statesman. The continued existence of the two papers hinted at the lingering distrust between former Democrats and former Whigs. A daily newspaper in New Hampshire’s capital might close this rift while creating a more powerful voice for the party.

Gilmore set out to make this happen. Almost every specific of his plan for the Concord Daily Monitor went awry. A promised written contract with the two publishers, P. Brainard Cogswell and George H. Sturtevant, never materialized. Costs for paper, supplies and print-work exceeded estimates. The men hired from Boston for the editorial work headed home.

The editor, William S. Robinson, was gone after a month. “Massachusetts is the place for ideas, and the place to which men look for ideas,” he explained when he reached home. “The men of ideas ought to stay here, I think; and I, as one of the men who write, ought to stay here also and express their ideas.”

J. Henry Gilmore, the governor's son
After the Monitor’s debut on May 23, 1864, the content remained strong, but advertising limped along. Investors who promised money for the daily reneged. And Gilmore couldn’t pay Cogswell and Sturtevant what he owed them for the printing. In August of 1865, he gave them the paper as partial payment. His son, J. Henry Gilmore, became the editor but lasted only a year. Cogswell took on the local editing chores.

But the two publishers persevered, and salvation, or at least a foothold, came in 1867. The Monitor merged with the Independent Democrat that year. Home from Switzerland, Fogg came back as political editor, joining Cogswell, Sturtevant and Hadley as principals of the company.

The Statesman came into the fold in 1871 under the auspices of the Republican Press Association. The Monitor, which had bounced around among downtown buildings before then, found a home in the Statesman Building at 18 N. Main St.

One by one during the next half-century, Concord’s other newspapers faded away. The Union victory in the Civil War had made New Hampshire a Republican state for generations to come. In a world of partisan journalism, the Monitor rose and prospered with its party. By the mid-1920s, it was the only game in town.

Friday, May 23, 2014

First edition: war news and a two-headed pig

The first Monitor front page, courtesy of New Hampshire Historical Society.
One hundred fifty years ago today, on May 23, 1864, daily journalism arrived in Concord.

Under the front-page headline “Concord Daily Monitor” the newspaper’s proprietors wrote: “The undersigned, feeling that our State Capital demands and ought to sustain a Daily Paper, propose to supply that want by the issue of an Evening Journal with the above name.”

P. Brainard Cogswell had no editorial duties when
at the start but was soon forced to take them up.
The proprietors were P. Brainard Cogswell and George H. Sturtevant, printers well known in the city. Nine months earlier Cogswell had gone with the governor’s son on a mission of mercy to collect the sick and bury the dead of the 16th New Hampshire Volunteers. Sturtevant’s younger brother Edward, a printer and later Concord’s night constable before the war, had been the state’s first volunteer. He was killed at Fredericksburg in 1862.

For their new Concord Daily Monitor, Cogswell and Sturtevant promised to produce a first edition before 2:30 p.m. each day to make the trains headed north and south. This paper would include “all the intelligence” available from the Boston morning papers. Home subscribers would receive a second edition printed at 5. At a cost of $5 a year, it would be cheaper and earlier than the Boston evening papers.

The publishers’ timing was poor, their luck sour. The governor, Joseph A. Gilmore, had strong-armed 40 local men into guaranteeing a total of $3,000 to support the new capital daily, but only half that amount was ever raised. Like other necessary printing commodities, the price of white paper spiked to 27 to 30 cents a pound because of the war. Page composition cost more than ever.

The two publishers were to produce the paper but leave the content to hired guns from Massachusetts. J.M.W. Yerrinton, a Boston stenographer of high repute, came north to cover the Legislature. Gilmore invited William S. Robinson, clerk of the Massachusetts House, to be the editor, and Robinson took the job.

"Warrington" didn't stay long.
Robinson was a 45-year-old former Whig who had slid easily into the new Republican Party during the 1850s. He had written under the pen name “Warrington” and edited the Courier in Lowell. His biographer wrote that Gilmore was seeking a strong, independent voice, not “a mere tool to a faction,” although he also wanted “an uncompromising advocate” for the Union cause and the Lincoln administration.

The hiring of these seasoned outsiders would help make the Monitor “a live paper, and a permanent credit to our City,” Cogswell and Sturtevant wrote. They promised daily news from Concord, surrounding towns and local soldiers at the front.

“It will be a thoroughly independent sheet – fearless in its exposure of intrigue and corruption and ‘bound to swear to the words of no master,’ ” they wrote.

The day’s news

The most prominent story in the four-page first edition of the Monitor was the Boston Journal’s account of the death of Nathaniel Hawthorne four days earlier. Hawthorne had died in the night in a Plymouth hotel with his friend Franklin Pierce sleeping fitfully a few feet away.

The Monitor was a Republican paper, its editor an anti-slavery man. Cogswell, the co-publisher, who was from Henniker, had once lived in the household of Parker Pillsbury, Concord’s leading abolitionist. Pierce, a pro-peace, pro-compromise Democrat who also lived in Concord, had long served as a whipping boy for Republicans. But when Robinson wrote a follow-up about Hawthorne’s funeral, he gave Pierce the benefit of the doubt.

“This friendship is a mystery, which ought to be sacred from scrutiny,” he wrote, “and we have a right to presume that it was honorable to both parties to it.”

John D. Cooper of Concord remained in the 2nd
New Hampshire till after the war ended
but fell ill  and died in a Baltimore hospital
on Oct. 30, 1865.
The war news in first Monitor included a letter from John D. Cooper of Concord, adjutant of the 2nd New Hampshire Volunteers, sharing the latest from the regiment.

Cooper had survived a gunshot through the lung at second Bull Run and was hit a second time at Gettysburg. Now he reported that among those killed at Drewry’s Bluff, a key point in Richmond’s defenses, was 43-year-old Private Charles O. Gould. One of the Prescott brothers, who made organs in Concord, was Gould’s brother-in-law.

On May 16, the day before Cooper wrote, the 2nd’s boy colonel, 22-year-old Edward L. Bailey, had ordered the regiment to throw up breastworks in a heavy fog. When the rebels attacked, the order saved many lives. “He may be a democrat,” Cooper wrote of Bailey, “but I know he is a true, loyal soldier, who has heroically performed his whole duty to his country.”

Luther F. Locke, a Nashua doctor, wrote the Monitor about helping out at a hospital at Fort Monroe, Va. Among the many New Hampshire soldiers there, he saw Maj. Jesse Angell of the 10th New Hampshire. A ball had hit the buckle of Angell’s belt, knocked his sword to the ground and ricocheted through his abdomen and out the back. Angell still hoped to return to battle, but he was sent home a few months later.

Locke also ran into 49-year-old Harriet Patience Dame, the angel of the 2nd New Hampshire. “I do not see how anyone can well do more,” Locke wrote of her.

Harriet P. Dame, 2nd New Hampshire 
At the start of the war, Dame had taken several young soldiers with measles into her boarding house at Main and Montgomery streets in Concord. Then she signed up as a nurse and accompanied the 2nd New Hampshire to the front.

Dame never took a day off during the war, nursing the men and comforting them in any way she could.

When Locke saw her, she was passing out strawberries to sick and wounded soldiers, but he believed her greatest gift to them was writing letters home for wounded men. Had he stayed a few weeks longer, Locke would have seen her taking on the severest cases brought in from the slaughter-field at Cold Harbor. 

Because Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign had begun in the Virginia back-country, the Monitor carried long casualty lists. The list in the first edition for three New Hampshire regiments in Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s 9th Corps filled more than two columns.

Two days later, the paper ran a list of equal length.

A two-headed pig

As much as war news dominated the paper, the publishers did not ignore the standard fare of journalism. One brief local report disclosed that the two-headed pig brought to town by Elliott Chickering had been sent for preservation to a Boston taxidermist. The Monitor reported the speculation that, once the pig was stuffed, P.T. Barnum was interested in acquiring it for his American Museum on Broadway in New York City.

Another brief piece told the tale of a supposed female soldier. Late one night, a Concord police constable found a woman wandering the city streets. She had arrived on the morning train from Boston and had no place to stay. She identified herself as Mrs. Frank Claton, 30 years old.  She told the officer she had served 22 months with a western regiment before her gender was discovered and she was booted out. Her husband, a member of the same regiment, had been killed in battle the previous summer, she said.

The constable allowed Mrs. Claton, or whoever she was, to sleep in the station house.

The 1819 State House needed repairs, raising Manchester's hopes of becoming the state capital.
One reason the daily Monitor debuted the last week of May was to report more fully on the coming legislative session. Concord had a special interest in that year’s agenda. In 1863 legislators dissatisfied with access, space and working conditions at the 44-year-old State House had requested proposals to expand and enhance it. They had also suggested that any other city with good railroad service propose building a new State House and becoming New Hampshire’s capital.

Seizing the moment, politicos and businessmen in Manchester raised $500,000 by loan to build a State House there. Manchester, they argued, was closer to the state’s population center than Concord and had better railroad connections and a better depot.

The new Monitor stuck up for its city. It informed readers of the details of Manchester’s enticements, urged Concord leaders to make a counter-offer and printed any insult from Manchester or support for Concord from papers around the state.

In the end, Concord remained the capital. The city put up $100,000 to pay for State House improvements. The old green dome came off, and a new, larger one went up. More space was added for upstairs committee rooms. The city put through Capitol Street to better delineate the plaza around the State House.

Though late to the game, the Monitor contributed to Concord’s victorious outcome. To a newspaper whose origins lay in political strife, such a fight came naturally.