I’ve always referred to it as a newspaper to distinguish it from their own sister publication “Harper’s New Monthly Magazine” which, being smaller, many more pages, and issued monthly, is a more definitive magazine. Early in its history the weekly called themselves a “family newspaper”, and modeled themselves against “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper” which began about a year earlier. If Leslie’s was a “newspaper” then certainly Harper’s Weekly was a “newspaper” as well.
However, in Mott’s “History of American Magazines” he includes a section for Harper’s Weekly, as well as one for Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper and other similar weeklies. Then he confuses the issue a bit more in the second volume of his book (pg. 43) by stating: “Half a dozen copiously illustrated weeklies of general appeal must be grouped separately. It would not be inappropriate to classify these periodicals as newspapers, since they all relied much upon the reporting of current events: indeed, one of them called itself a newspaper in its title. But they were all very much more than newspapers, and they placed the emphasis on features of appeal which belonged more characteristically to the magazine than to the newspaper–namely, pictures and belles-lettres…”.
Today I traveled to New York City by the means of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine dated December, 1866. I found the first appearance of Mark Twain in a national magazine with the publishing of “Forty-Three Days in an Open Boat. Compiled From Personal Diaries.”
I also found through the Harper’s Monthly website the following information. “Mark Twain’s first article in Harper’s was miss-attributed to Mark Swain. The story, “Forty-three Days in an Open Boat” (December 1866), is an account of the Hornet, a clipper ship that caught fire in the ocean, leaving its crew adrift. Twain referred to it as the “first magazine article I ever published,” though he had published numerous pieces in other periodicals and newspapers under such names as Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass; W. Epaminondas Adrastus Blab; Rambler; Grumbler; and Peter Pencilcase’s Son, John Snooks.
Mark Twain was born thirty-one years earlier, and two months premature, as Samuel Langhorne Clemens, in Florida, Missouri. “When I first saw him I could see no promise in him,” his mother said. The Clemenses moved several miles upstate, to the Missouri River-side Hannibal, when he was four; the town would later inspire the fictional St. Petersburg of his two most famous works, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)…”.
Twain didn’t turn out too bad after-all!
I traveled to Boston today by the way of the Independent Chronicle dated October 14, 1816. I found “By His Excellency John Brooks, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, A Proclamation, for a day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer.” had been proclaimed. This was to be held on the Thursday, November 28.
Also found was an article entitled “Sabbath Laws” in which Judge Putnam “…repealed all former provisions upon the subject whether by statue or common law; that no act of labour, therefore, upon that day are lawful, except in cases of necessity or charity; and that prosecutions upon the statute are not within the exception…”. Too bad we cannot go back to those days…
While the most significant feature of the “St. Louis Daily Globe” of February 2, 1875 is a report regarding Frank and Jesse James, the front page has a curious report headed: “A Peculiar Bill” concerning the need to create nonsmoking cars which would: “…afford relief to a great many ladies who are annoyed by cigar smoke, and other evils arising from the use of tobacco by gentlemen…” (see image).
The history of the origin of the name of the “Baby Ruth” candy bar by the Curtis Candy Company is interesting, brought to light recently with our finding the “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated” issue of Jan. 5, 1893. The full front page is an illustration captioned: “Baby Ruth and Her Mother” being the child of President Grover Cleveland. This is the person for whom the “Baby Ruth” candy bar was named, not Babe Ruth the famous baseball star as was popularly though. And the story behind the name is interesting.
In Chicago in 1921 Otto Schnering had a turnaround plan for his Curtis Candy Company. He reformulated his “Kandy Kake” brand confection—a conglomeration of milk chocolate, peanuts and a pudding center “richer than marshmallow, fluffier than nougat, better than either of them”—into a chocolate-covered candy bar with peanuts, caramel and nougat. Along with the new recipe came a new name—Baby Ruth. At first glance, it seemed clear that Schnering had taken advantage of the home run king’s well-known name and tweaked it by one letter in order to avoid paying the “Sultan of Swat” any royalties.
Perhaps because of its perceived connection to the Yankee slugger, Baby Ruth was a big success. By 1926, sales of the candy bar totaled $1 million a month, and the company’s candy-making facilities were the largest of their kind in the world.
In 1926, Ruth decided to enter the candy business himself and licensed his name to the George H. Ruth Candy Company, which sought to register “Ruth’s Home Run Candy” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Wrappers showed a head shot of a smiling Ruth in his uniform along with the note “Babe Ruth’s Own Candy.” The Curtiss Candy Company sued for copyright infringement and claimed that the candy bar had not been named after the baseball star, but Ruth Cleveland, eldest daughter of President Grover Cleveland. The explanation seemed odd given that the girl nicknamed “Baby Ruth” by the press had been born in 1891, three decades before the introduction of the candy bar. By 1921, not only was she not a baby, she wasn’t even alive, having died of diphtheria in 1904. Newspapers and the American public paid close attention to “Baby Ruth” after her father returned to the White House in 1893 for his second presidential term, but the Clevelands fiercely protected their daughter’s privacy and refused repeated requests by American newspapers to take her photograph. Few Americans ever knew what “Baby Ruth” looked like. By 1921, Babe Ruth was a household name while “Baby Ruth,” who died 17 years beforehand, was an historical footnote. (credit www.history.com)
Given the above, it is curious that this image of Baby Ruth Cleveland appeared on the front page of this very popular illustrated newspaper. Perhaps it is the only image of her in a newspaper.
In celebration of its 20oth anniversary the American Antiquarian Society published a beautiful exhibition catalog titled “In Pursuit Of A Vision – Two Centuries of Collecting at the American Antiquarian Society”. Featured are a fascinating array of books, documents, maps & other paper ephemera, as well as several very rare & unusual newspapers we felt worthy of sharing with our collectors (with permission from the A.A.S.).
In recent years AAS has actively collected issues of pre-1877 American manuscript periodicals. These handwritten examples mimic printed periodicals in format and content, containing stories, news, and advertisements. Sometimes they were produced by individuals, serving as the manuscript equivalent of amateur newspapers, and sometimes they were issued by small groups. Others were produced as an activity of a school or lyceum.
AAS has held manuscript periodicals since the nineteenth century; but because these were long shelved alongside printed periodicals, they were easily overlooked. In the 1990s AAS staff began to pull them together into a separate collection, in the process discovering not only how many titles were already at AAS, but also the frequency with which they were produced. As it became apparent that the more specimens AAS had, the more they collectively revealed about early American scribal culture, AAS began to seek them actively. The collection now numbers more than sixty titles.
One of the more unusual is “The Kentucky Spy and Porcupine Quill.” The masthead claims that it is “Devoted to the science of matrimony, union, wedlock and the ladies.” However, the chief story, entitled “Wonderful rumpus in the town of Irvine,” is a fictional account, humorous in tone, of a revolt by 5,000 heavily armed slaves which in the story turns out to be a hoax. The editor and contributor(s) are unnamed.
Today I traveled back to New York City by the means of the New York Evening Post dated July 2, 1816. Under the “Died” column is “Departed this life, at 9 o’clock this morning, the Rev. Mr. GERSHOM SEIXAS, the venerable Pastor of the Hebrew congregation, in the 71st year of his age…”.
Mr. Seixas was the first Native-born American rabbi. He also delivered the first Thanksgiving address in an American synagogue after the adoption of the United States Constitution. He was one of the fourteen ministers to participate in George Washington’s first inauguration.
At the merger of the 200th anniversary of his death and the 240th anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence it is fitting to consider how quickly the Jewish population became acclimated and accepted in the United States. While not without considerable bumps in the road, George Washington’s outspoken support for Jewish citizens was certainly a good beginning.
Question: Washington’s letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, RI received a response from Rabbi Moses Seixas. If anyone can confirm whether or not Moses and Gershom were related, please contact Guy at email@example.com.
Today I traveled to Worcester, Massachusetts, by the way of the Worcester Evening Gazette dated June 20, 1866. There I found a very interesting article titled “Utah and the Mormons.” The article is over a full column in length and provides great details of the life-styles of the Mormon life, including the pros and cons of polygamy; how some of the wives get along and where others do not; a polygamist that needs to do all of his own cooking, cleaning, washing and even sleeps on the floor because his wives don’t get alone.
Also mentioned is a description of Brigham Young, “…He is six feet high, portly, weighing about two hundred, in his sixty-fifth year, and wonderfully preserved… His face is fresh and unwrinkled, his step agile and elastic, his curling auburn hair and whiskers untinged with gray. He has grayish-blue, secretive eyes, eagle nose, and a mouth that shuts like a vice, indicating tremendous firmness. His manner is cold and egotistical. He uses neither tea nor coffee, spirits nor tobacco, speaks ungrammatically, is very rich and universally popular among the saints…” and also states “… Brigham is the favorite speaker, though he does not preach more than once a month. His sermons which I heard were very incoherent and illiterate…”.
An interesting life? You make that call!
Is the United States perfect? Certainly not. Our forefathers did not sacrifice time, security, and in many cases, life or limb for the sake of a perfect system of government. Their hope was to establish a government for the people – which would provide the opportunity for all to pursue happiness in an environment free of governmental oppression and steeped with a host of inalienable rights. For some, “all” meant everyone. To others, “all” was defined quite narrowly. Still, even those who had a broader view understood the benefit of compromise – for the purpose of establishing a system which would have enough flexibility to adjust to their broader view of “all” over time. We know now the great advancement in this regards only came through a Civil War; however, it came. A perfect system? No. The best system ever constructed by man? Absolutely.
As we contemplate the great sacrifice paid by many to create and preserve this “best system” under God, the New York Tribune dated July 7, 1854 help us to capture the tension and need for growth that was evident to many in the 1850’s. Allow a negro to become a member of Congress? Could this be possible? Those who knew Frederick Douglass certainly thought so. Please enjoy:
It is always interesting to read criticisms of political decisions of centuries ago with the luxury of hindsight. Early newspapers allow today’s reader to recognize just how much thought was not just wrong, but laughably wrong.
One example is in the August 6, 1803 issue of the “Columbian Centinel” which contains a letter complaining about Presidents increasing the national debt: “…those very papers are now extolling the wisdom of Mr. Jefferson in adding eleven millions of dollars to the funded debt of the United States. Great clamour was raised against the administration of Mr. Adams because he did not effect a greater reduction of the national debt…Now in a time of profound tranquility the national debt is to be increased fifteen millions of dollars in one year, for the purchase of a country most of which is uninhabited and totally useless to the United States.”
From that purchase in 1803 would be carved fifteen future states as well as two Canadian provinces. Its value to the United States would be incalculable today, and in fact was considered an incredible bargain many years before the Civil War.