Years in print:
The Missouri Republican
Joseph Dacus and James William Buel
In 1821 [another source states March 1822] the name of the Missouri Gazette was changed to Missouri Republican by its then proprietor, James C. Cummins, who had purchased it in 1820 from its founder, Joseph Charless. In 1822 Mr. Cummins transferred the paper to Edward Charless, a son of the Charless who had founded the paper, who continued it under the same name. [Second source says Edward Charless changed the name].
The first printer to work in the West was a Mr. Hinkle, who set up the first form of the Gazette in a little one-story building on Main Street, near the corner of the old market. Of course, in those days there were no power-presses, and they had not yet learned to make composition rollers, the inking of the forms, as well as operating the press, was a task to be performed by hand. The old Ramage press, from which copies of the first newspaper published in St. Louis were taken, was a very rude contrivance, and yet it was equal to the best presses of that age. This first rude hand-press served to supply the St. Louis public with their newspaper until 1827. It required forty days in those days for an item of news to travel from Washington to the banks of the Mississippi.
In 1822 the Republican had, by two enlargements, attained the size of twenty by twenty-six inches. Josiah Spalding was taken in as a partner that year, the style of the firm being Edward Charless & Co., under which style the copartnership lasted until February, 1826, when Edward Charless again became the sole proprietor. In March, 1828, Nathaniel Paschall became associated with Mr. Charless, and the firm was established as Charless & Paschall. At this time the paper was increased in size, its dimensions being twenty-two by thirty-two inches. No essential change was made until April, 1833, when it was published semi-weekly and weekly, and two years later a tri-weekly issue was ventured upon. In May, 1835, the sheet was enlarged, measuring then twenty-four by thirty-four inches; and on September 30, 1836, St. Louis witnessed an event, for it was on that day that the Republican first appeared as a daily paper. It was also published tri-weekly and weekly. The last few preceding years had been attended with a vast increase in population, demanding a corresponding expansion of facilities for furnishing news to a greatly increased list of subscribers.
In July, 1837, Charless & Paschall sold the concern to A.B. Chambers, Oliver Harris and George Knapp. In August, 1839, Mr. Harris withdrew, and the paper continued under the firm of Chambers & Knapp. On the 1st of January, 1840, the sheet was enlarged to twenty-six by thirty-eight inches, and Joseph W. Dougherty became a proprietor, the style of the firm now being Chambers, Knapp & Co. Mr. Dougherty was connected with the paper but a short time, and on his retirement the firm resumed the title of Chambers & Knapp. November 20, 1843, the Republican enlarged its dimensions to twenty-seven by forty-six inches, and on the 1st of January following, increased to twenty-eight by forty-eight inches.
In May, 1849, the office and fixtures of the Republican office were destroyed in the great conflagration of that year. In the beginning of the year 1851, the paper was established in the five-story building on Chestnut Street then just completed, which was regarded at the time as one of the finest newspaper establishments in the country. The paper was enlarged to a sheet measuring thirty-one and a half by fifty-two inches. In October, 1853, the paper was further enlarged to the immense size of thirty-three by fifty-six inches. The quarto form was adopted October 8, 1872.
Mr. A.B. Chambers, so long one of the proprietors of the Republican, died May 22, 1854. One year from that time, May 19, 1855, George Knapp, by the purchase of Chambers’ interest, became sole owner of the establishment. During August in that year, Nathaniel Paschall and John Knapp were admitted as partners, and the firm name changed to George Knapp & Co. In 1866, Mr. Paschall died, and Mr. William Hyde, who had joined the staff as a reporter in 1857, was promoted to the chief editorship of the paper, having previous to that time been admitted to an interest in the proprietorship. Before the death of Mr. Paschall, the firm of George Knapp & Co., had been changed into a joint stock company, and the elder Paschall was succeeded in the directory of the company by his son Henry G. Paschall, who still retains that position.
On the evening of May 24, 1870, the Republican office, situated on Chestnut Street between Main and Second, was burned down. It was a five-story brick building, with basement for machinery. The destruction was nearly total, including an eight-cylinder Hoe press, job office, bindery, type, fixtures, etc., involving a loss of one hundred and eighty thousand dollars, on which there was one hundred and six thousand five hundred dollars insurance. All the files of the paper from 1808 down were saved. Among the property destroyed was a valuable library of books of reference. A four-cylinder Hoe press was protected in a fire-proof vault and saved, and but one day's issue of the paper was missed. A temporary two-story brick building was erected on the old site, and on the 18th of June the office was moved into it, where it remained until the present Republican building was erected and ready for occupation.
On Wednesday, January 8, 1873, the Missouri Republican had a grand opening and housewarming in its new building. The newspaper had taken possession of its new quarters some time before, and the great presses and the composition and editorial departments were in perfect running order. The proprietors of the Republican extended invitations to all their personal acquaintances and friends of the paper to join with them in celebrating their new epoch. A large concourse of old and leading citizens responded, and the spacious rooms and halls of the building were filled from top to basement. After the usual introductory festivities were over, there was a rare festival of speeches and congratulations. The time chosen was the forty-sixth anniversary of the connection of the senior proprietor, George Knapp, with the establishment.
The new Republican office stands on a lot eighty feet on Third Street, extending back one hundred and ten feet on Chestnut Street. The work was commenced September 1, 1870, and the entire lot was excavated to the depth of twenty feet. The foundations were sunk still deeper. The building has a front on Third Street of seventy-six feet ten inches, and a front on Chestnut Street of one hundred and three feet five inches. It is five stories high above the pavement, the distance from the sidewalk to the crest of the dome being one hundred and twenty five feet. The style of architecture is that of the Renaissance, which combines strength, durability and beauty.
(From A Tour of St. Louis, Or The Inside Life of A Great City, 1878).
Theodore Dreiser's description of the city room of the Missouri Republican in the early 1890s:
"The windows were tall but cracked and patched with faded yellow copy paper; the desks, some fifteen or twenty all told, were old, dusty, knife-marked, smeared with endless ages of paste and ink. There was waste paper and rubbish on the floor. There was no sign of paint or wallpaper. The windows facing east looked out upon a business court or alley where trucks and vans creaked by day but which at night was silent as the grave, as was the entire neighborhood...
(From A Book About Myself by Theodore Dreiser, 1922).
Actually, the paper [Missouri Republican] was sympathetic to the lost cause of the Confederacy. While the Globe-Democrat was conservative and Republican, the Republican was conservative and Democratic...More attracted to politics than to journalism, [editor William] Hyde was credited with formulating the strategy that broke the Republican hold on Missouri after the [Civil] war...
Consisting of ten seven-column pages of the usual size, the Republican had a front page fairly divided between advertising matter and national politics. Its second and third pages gave the business news and other items telegraphed from distant places. Its fourth page editorials were devoted to violent debates with its chief rivals, the Globe-Democrat and the Post-Dispatch, a peppery evening paper...Since the back of the paper was given over to literary essays, society news, and reports of bustling river traffic, there were only two pages containing local news...All articles were anonymous...
(From The Man in the Mirror by Max Putzel, 1963).