History of Chicago, Rufus Blanchard, 1900
THE CHICAGO CHRONICLE
Vol. 1, no. 1 (May 28, 1895) through Vol. 13, no. 4 (May 31, 1907).
By Charles C. Seymour
On the purchase of the consolidated Times and Herald, for many years the democratic morning newspapers of Chicago, by a republican who announced his purpose to conduct the Times- Herald thereafter as a republican newspaper, the Chicago Chronicle Co. was organized for the purpose of publishing a democratic morning daily and Sunday newspaper to occupy the field that had been abandoned. John R. Walsh, who had formerly been the principal owner of the Herald, became largely interested in the Chronicle, and gave it its financial strength. Horatio W. Seymour was publisher and Martin J. Russell was editor, both of them being stockholders also in the new enterprise.
The first issue of the Chronicle appeared May 28, 1895. It is probable that the Chronicle began business better equipped mechanically and financially than any other newspaper enterprise of which there is any record. It is published in a five-story building at 164 and 166 Washington street (near Halsted), of which it is the owner, and its plant is one of the largest in the United States. It has twenty-four typesetting machines, and its press work is done on six double Potter presses, each having an output of 20,000 eight-page newspapers per hour.
From its first issue the Chronicle was of regulation morning newspaper size, the issue being twelve pages ordinarily during the week, sixteen pages on Saturday and from forty to forty-eight pages on Sunday. Within seven months from the date of its first publication the edition of the Sunday Chronicle exceeded 100,000 copies, and it has been maintained at that and even a greater figure most of the time since.
May 28, 1895
While the Chronicle has been a powerful advocate of democracy it has never been an organ, and, owing to its sound money views, it was unable to snpport Mr. Bryan, the candidate of the regular democracy in 1896. Aside from the financial question, it has been in harmony with the democratic party, and it is the great newspaper of that political faith in the northwest.
Mr. Seymour, the publisher of the Chronicle, was formerly in the employ of Wilbur F. Storey, the owner of the Chicago Times, and later was connected in an editorial capacity for many years with the Chicago Herald, in which newspaper he was also a stockholder.
In one respect the six weeks during which the consolidated Times and Herald abandoned their old time democratic faith and became republican, and the Chronicle came into existence, was the most novel and interesting in the history of the Chicago press. It is certain that never before was an American city of 2,000,000 of people left without a democratic newspaper, and it is probable that such a circumstance never will arise again. If the defection of the Times-Herald was sudden and unexpected, the appearance and growth of the Chronicle was prompt and wonderful. Unlike every other great newspaper in the world, it was born great. It never was small. Its financial resources were large. Its equipment was extensive. Its field was open and undisputed. Its success was immediate and unquestioned.
As a matter of information, valuable chiefly to newspaper men of the future who may have curiosity on the subject, it may be stated that the Chronicle began business with a paid circulation of 35,000 copies, daily and Sunday, a larger number than many newspapers of long standing in various large American cities ever have obtained, and this was secured for its first paid edition, wholly without canvassing. It properly represents and measures the field that was entirely abandoned to the new comer—that is, the number of people in Chicago and vicinity who, without solicitation, improved the first opportunity to buy regularly a newspaper of their own political faith. Canvassing and other energetic methods soon doubled this circulation for the daily Chronicle and trebled it for the Sunday Chronicle.
The Chicago Chronicle Co. is officered as follows: A. W. Green, vice-president, and Horatio W. Seymour, secretary and treasurer. The same gentlemen constitute the board of directors.
Chicago Tribune, May 31, 1907
After an experience of twelve years and three days, the Chicago Chronicle this morning will suspend publication.
The announcement is made in both of its morning editions by Horatio W. Seymour, publisher of the paper. Mr. Seymour, who has been the active head of the paper since its foundation, makes the announcement brief and formal, giving no details as to the reasons for the suspension.
Though a change in management or a suspension has been a matter of frequent rumor and prophecy for months, the decision of the management to shut down was in a measure unexpected and without warning.
At midnight the employes in the editoril and the various mechanical departments were notified that it was to be their last night of work in the establishment.
The employes in the business department of the institution will not know of the decision to shut up shop until this morning. All, however, hav been expecting a change of some character for more than a year.
With the Chronicle out of business, there remains only four English morning newspapers in Chicago.
It is said the press franchise may be secured by the Hearst newspapers.
The suspension of the Chronicle is the outcome of the failure of the Chicago National bank, a year ago last December. John R. Walsh, president of the bank, was also practically the sole owner of the Chronicle, which he founded in 1895, just after selling the Chicago Heraqld property to James W. Scott.
The Chronicle, it is understood, had not been a paying investment at any time and it became a heavy burden for Mr. Walsh when the greater financial difficulties of the bank’s insolvency were added.
The newspaper was turned over with the banker’s other properties to the associated banks to administer and there came at once a pressure upon him to dispose of the institution.
Mr. Walsh, who remained in control of the policies of the paper even after the failure, entered into numerous negotiations looking to its sale, but never was able to reach an agreement with prospective purchasers as to the price. He held the property at from $600,000 to $800,000. Recently William Randolph Hearst has talked of buying it, and it s said he has been negotiating with Mr. Walsh about the matter within the last week.
Reports also were heard that representatives of the Pulitzers had negotiated for the plant and franchise with a view to establishing a Chicago edition of the New York World.
Soon after the failure it was reported that Frank O. Lowden would secure control of the paper. This report was denied at Mr. Lowden’s office, it being stated that the former candidate for the gubernatorial nomination preferred farming to the newspaper business. Another report was to the effect that a merger between the Chronicle and the Inter Ocean would be consummated. This report also proved to be unfounded.
The Associated Press franchise, of course, is a valuable asset of the paper, and it this that chiefly drew the interest of other publishers. At the office of the Chronicle it was stated last night that negotiations for the sale of this asset would probably be concluded today.
The urgency of the need for Mr. Walsh to realize on the Chronicle property was increased several weeks ago when the associated banks undertook to aid the ex-banker to finance his railroad properties and secure them an entrance to Chicago. It is understood that the disposal of the paper was one of the conditions made by the banks before they consented to lend a hand.
During all these months inquiries of Mr. Seymour touching rumors of suspension have been met with emphatic details.
Mr. Walsh, an old democrat, conducted the Chronicle along democratic lines until the Bryan era began in 1896. In that year the newspaper supported the candidacy of Palmer and Buckner. In 1900 the paper gave nominal assent to the Bryan candidacy, but in 1904 it came out for Roosevelt and placed at the head of its editorial page the phrase, ” A republican newspaper.” This it has continued to be since that year.
Mr. Walsh has had a long career in Chicago. He has lived here since 1849. His inclination toward the newspaper business began when, at the age of 18, he became a clerk in a pioneer news depot. In 1861 he opened a news depot of his own. Later he was manager of the Western News company, of which he still later became chief owner. He obtained an interest in the Chicago Herald early in the ’80s, and since then has continuously been in control of a Chicago newspaper.
John Walsh’s news stand at Madison and Dearborn streets.
Story of Chicago In Connection with The Printing Business, Regan Printing House, 1912
CHICAGO CHRONICLE, 1895-1908:
Upon the merging of the Times with the Herald there was left no advocate of the policies of the Democratic party in the city, and this fact influenced Horatio W. Seymour and Martin J. Russell, two newspaper men of experience, to start the Chronicle, the first issue appearing on May 28, 1895. From the first the undertaking was a success, the paper quickly forging to the front. The financial controversy of 1896 over the silver issue interfered with the progress of the paper and the difficulties which its principal owner, Mr. J. R. Walsh, encountered seriously hampered the prospects of the paper and it was forced to suspend.