The year was 1833. Chicago had just been incorporated as a town. There were already 300 people living here. On this November 26, we got our first newspaper.
Our 21st Century media like to portray themselves as unbiased and non-partisan. Sometimes they are. But in 1833, newspapers let you know their agenda right up front. That first local paper was a weekly named the Chicago Democrat.
The man behind it was John Calhoun. He’d run a succession of unsuccessful papers in New York, most recently in Watertown. After hearing travelers’ tales about the boomtown on Lake Michigan, the young editor headed west.
Calhoun set up shop in a building on Clark Street just south of the river. Like anyone who owned a printing press in 1833, he depended on job-lot printing orders to make his living. The newspaper was more of a sideline, a vehicle to publicize his personal views.
(Hmmm. Sounds like a blog.)
Andrew Jackson, a Democrat, was president. The opposition party was called the Whigs. Yet the feature story in the first issue of the Chicago Democrat was not a political manifesto.