Old Washington. The Typos of 1820-30.
By James Croggon, The Evening Star, June 28, 1913 [p. 10]
The printing business was looking up in Washington by 1820, and there were a few hundred connected with the newspapers of that day and employed in the few job offices. There were being published at the time the National Messenger and the Metropolitan in Georgetown, but the former soon ceased publication. In Washington the Expositor had passed two years of life and the National Register, published by J.K. Meade, the firm supporter of the Monroe administration, ceased to exist. The Intelligencer’s proprietors, Gales & Seaton, having been chosen congressional printers, their office boomed and it became one of the most prominent points in the city, the gathering place for government officials, members of Congress and also a great literary center.
The National Republican was established a short time thereafter at the corner of Pennsylvania avenue and 22d street. The Columbian Star was being published by Anderson & Meehan at the corner of 10th and E streets, and the Washington City Gazette, published by Jonathan Elliott, had a short time before moved its office to the Elliott building, on the north side of the Avenue east of 4-1/2 street. Mr. Duncan was carrying on the printing business on 12th street above E and there were some other small job offices. The office of A. & W. Way, on 9th street between the Avenue and G street, had become that of Way & Gideon.
The original scale of prices, $10 per week during the session of Congress and $9 during the recess, with $2 per day on Sundays, and space work at 28 cents for brevier and 33 1/3 cents for less than brevier per thousand, seemed satisfactory to all. Harmony existed between the bosses and journeymen, and the meetings of the society were held regularly, most of the time in the “long room over the baths” on the north side of C street between 4-1/2 and 6th streets.
Meetings were held also in other places, but on the completion of the council chamber in the city hall that became the regular place of meeting.
In 1821 Lambert Tree, who afterward became the chief clerk of the city post office, serving for many years. William H. Blayney, A.J.K. Baker, Thomas L. Wilson and James O’Brien were admitted members. The following year W.F. Pitts, Russell Eaton, F.G. Fish and James Clephane joined the society. In 1823 M. Sweeney, William Faithful, Thomas Herty, J.C. Smoot, James Paxton, J.R. Cunningham, R.H. Martyr, John Cam, John Stockwell, S.W. Harris, G.T. Judy, A. Rothwell and John Shepherd joined. In 1824, there were admitted to membership M. Atkinson, Jehiel Crossfield, P. Albright, W. Phillips, E.J. Hale, W.S. Allen, W.S. Eskridge, James King and Joseph Costigan; and in 1825, S.C. Eustick, Joseph Bailey, Andrew Crothers, W.T. Wheat, Michael Larner, S. Sherwood, William O’Bryon, R.C. Bonham, C.S. Hurley, J.T. Whitaker, William Rodgers and James Hanley. In 1826, James Thompson, T. Downey, T.K. Collins, R.C. Barrett, John Anderson, Enoch Edmonston, William Walters, E.P. Gaddis, John Dowling, P.G. Collins and Arthur Thompson. In 1827 Henry Walker, J.T. Butler, Henry Barnard, P. Louderbach, M. Wilson, Robert Bell, William Woodward, E. Richardson and Eugene Laporte; and in 1828, A. McKelly, William Wellington, Z.R. Pelce, John Hat, Walter Smith, Jacob Squier, JW. Woods, C.J. Hamilton, Isaac Watson, T.M. Graham and Lynde Elliott became members. In 1829, the names of Ferdinand Jefferson, A.B. Beckwith, Thomas Frances, Robert R. Houston and David Wilson were added. Mr. Jefferson served many years at the “case” and was translator in the State Department some time.
During this decade a number of other papers were established. Some lived long and others lasted but a few years. In 1826 the United States telegraph was published by John S. Meehan at the southwest corner of 11th street and Pennsylvania avenue, and a few years after it was removed to the northeast corner of 10th and E streets, when Duff Green of Georgia became the editor and proprietor and it continued publication until 1837.
* * *
Prior to its removal to this city, John C. Rives, who was afterward connected with the firm of Blair & Rives and published the Congressional Globe, was the clerk and the business manager. Mr. Colvin published the Register in 1827, and the following year the Banner of the Constitution, devoted mainly to free trade, was established here by Acondy Raquet of Philadelphia, and it was printed for a short time, about four years, by William Greer, at the northeast corner of 9th and E streets, in which building nearly forty years before Benj. Moore had published the Washington City Gazette.
In 1828 the Washington City Chronicle was established by Andrew Rothwell and S.E. Ustick, the latter a few years before having conducted a job office on D street, just east of 11th. The first issue of this paper was published in July of that year, and much space was given to the account of turning over the first spadeful of earth by John Quincy Adams which marked the beginning of the Chesapeake and Ohio canal, in Georgetown the Fourth of July.
* * *
In 1823 the National Journal was established at the southwest corner of Pennsylvania avenue and 11th street by Col. Peter Force, who became noted as compiler of various papers, and who was at one time mayor of Washington and one of our leading public citizens. The editor was Phillip R. Fendal, who was distinguished as a journalist and a lawyer, and at one time served as district attorney. The paper was published for about eight years, during which time it was removed to the site of the old Times building, 10th and D streets, where Mr. Force collected one of the most extensive private libraries in existence.
In this decade F.S. Myer had a job office at 10th street and Pennsylvania avenue, but later in life became notary public and magistrate.
William Cooper, who at that time resided on 9th street above the Avenue, had his job office on the south side of the Avenue, a few doors west of Mr. Myers, and he later established a bookstore on the north side of the Avenue between 9th and 10th streets. In the later part of his life, on what was known as the Island, now South Washington, he served as a magistrate.
* * *
Among the members of the society were many who took a prominent place in the community known in every effort to advance the welfare of the District, municipal fraternal, military, social and religious. James Clephane resided on G street near 13th and worked at the “case” for many years. He was the father of Lewis Clephane, for many years connected with the National Era, and James O. Clephane, one of the leading stenographers during the eventful days of the civil war and subsequently.
Thomas Herty was afterward connected with the municipal government in a clerical capacity. Jehiel Crossfield, after working at the Intelligencer office until old age, entered the employ of the government.
Andrew Carothers became, before his death, one of the leading grocers of the city and was located at the corner of 11th and F streets.
Michael Larner in early days resided near the Intelligencer office, where he was employed, and later removed to the neighborhood of F and 6th streets. He was the father of the late Noble D. Larner, so well known in Masonic and church circles. Mr. Whitaker spent the major part of his life at the Intelligencer office and died at a very old age.
Henry Walker lived to be nearly 100 years of age, dying but a few years ago. During his life he worked in many offices and was a solder during the Mexican war.
* * *
As at present, the members of the society were eminently of a social and fraternal disposition. During this period they had but little to do other than their daily work. It was their custom to observe the birthday of Benjamin Franklin, the patriot printer of revolutionary times, and seldom was the anniversary of the nation’s birth omitted. Franklin’s birth was observed by a dinner January 17 or the following Saturday night.
Independence day was celebrated sometimes by a parade, and July 5, 1824, the society met at Kennedy’s tavern, then on F street between 13th and 14th, and paraded, having two banners in line as well as a press drawn by four horses, which during the march threw off copies of the Declaration of Independence. They proceeded to the Spring Tavern, near the site of Mount Olivet, where they partook of a dinner.