Old Washington. The Printers of 1830 to 1835.
By James Croggon, The Evening Star, October 5, 1913 [p. 17]
By the year 1830 the membership of he Columbia typographical Society was keeping pace with the population’s growth. At that time William Duncan was president, Jud Delano vice president, Josiah F. Reed recording secretary and James Kennedy treasurer. The membership however, did not include all the printers then in the city, for there were many brought here by the session of Congress, and among them were some who filled a large place in public affairs. With the advent of the Jackson administration, in 1829, many of his political followers followed him to the capital. Among these were John C. Rives, who rode horseback from Kentucky to this city. A few years afterward he formed a partnership with Francis P. Blair. Duff Green had previously come to the city and was publishing the Telegraph. For several years Green and James Watson Webb, with the Telegraph and the New York Courier, respectively, seemed to rule the political world. Francis P. Blair was made public printer, succeeding Green, and with his partner for a long time did the bulk of the congressional printing, it was said each of them became wealthy.
* * *
Outside of the society there were many printers who had drifted into the city, some of whom became member, but in that day there were many of the tramp persuasion; it being an axiom that no compositor had the full trade unless he had wandered extensively through the country.
The Intelligencer was published by Gales & Seaton in an enlarged office, a portion of which was used as the bindery, Mr. Elliott was publishing the Washington City Gazette on the Avenue east of 4-1/2 street, and Messrs. Rothwell & Ustick had removed their office from E street near 14th street to 4-1/2 street and Pennsylvania avenue and were publishing the Spectator. In Georgetown the City Gazette was being published but three years afterward closed its career. There were no additions to the membership in 1830, but no lack of interest.
In 1831 the publication of the Congressional Globe was commenced by Blair & Rives in an office on the north side of E street near 14th street. Mr. Green was publishing the Telegraph, with an office at the northeast corner of 10th and E streets, and subsequently the office was moved to a building erected for the purpose in the rear. At this place the first labor trouble of importance began. Mr. Green had boasted that he would publish a paper by employing children to take the places of the journeyman printers, and subsequently he employed number of non-unon printers, and two-third of his force were apprentices. In consequence the society declared a boycott on his establishment, and this continued nearly six years until the office changed ownership in 1837.
* * *
Mrs. Annie Royal commenced publication of the celebrated Paul Pry on Capitol Hill, and this paper was immensely popular with certain classes, and was said to act on the policy that whenever a head was seen, it should be hit, for she spared neither friend nor foe. She was in the main laudatory of the former, but venomous toward the latter.
In 1831 there were added to the society rolls the names of Samuel Muliken, James Brown, William H . Haliday and James F. Haliday, who for many years subsequently was the business manager of the union, and served a term as register of the city. Others added were William G. Bruce, E.H. Kincaid, Christian Klopfer, E. Kleiber, Michael Crider, Robert Paine and William Need.
The Gazette had been succeeded in Georgetown by the Metropolitan, which had a life of five years, and the Mirror had commenced an existence of a few years in this city. The trade was prospering, for in addition to the newspaper offices, new job offices were springing up. The society numbered nearly 200 members and a sentiment toward the formation of a national typographical society was growing, but a resolution looking to that end when put to a vote was laid on the table.
In 1832 the society took in James N. Davis, who for a long number of years was a job printer, having an office on the south side of Pennsylvania avenue near 12th street, and who, later in life, was a clerk in the Post Office Department. Thomas J. Haliday, Archibald McGrath, I.G. McKinley, E.S. Cropley, N. Heitzel and H.F. Hilyard, and the next year Charles Patterson, James Carlisle, John J. Hamilton, Samuel Douglas and O.B. Hill were also enrolled.
By 1834 the society was experiencing a revival of interest. At the January meeting it elected about twenty-five new members. Among these were A.F. Cunningham, who came from Norfolk, and was well known as a temperance advocate, serving for long years as secretary of the Sons of Temperance, and late in life was clerk in the Treasury; Charles P. Wannall, who in after life was a grocer at the corner of New York avenue and 9th street, a member of the city council and before his death was a clerk in the Treasury; James Chipley, William T. loan, Charles Jefferis, R. Garwood, E.T. Gutshell, George Gregory, F.A. Lummsden, Levy B. Blum, W.W. Kern, Moses Marston, John Shaw, John F. Martin, William Edelen, John Trunholm, Joe Gales Johnston, Franklin Edmonston, E.B. Robinson, who soon after went to the Florida war as the captain of the National Volunteers, and who obtained quite a reputation as a debater and public speaker. He was long known as “Bull” Robinson. Others who joined then were Oscar Alexander, E.E. Graves, W.C. Waters, S.H. Hayward, George W. Hodges and James L. Bennett.
* * *
In 1834 John T. Towers joined the society at the February meeting. Mr. Towers came here from Winchester, V a., and subsequently had an office of his own in the old Olympic Theater on 6th street, south of the St. James Hotel, in 1853, being elected printer to the House of Representatives, much of the work was done there, and subsequently he erected a building at the southeast corner of 9th street and Louisiana avenue, where he carried on the work. In June 1854 he was elected mayor of Washington. In this year there were elected to membership : George Dexter, Thomas Hauptman, John S. Roberts, H. Pratt, A.E. Smoot, Henry Boss, C.N. Burgess, K. Woodward, John L. Brown, John McDonald, N.M. Mitchell, John F. Crocker, John W. Robinson, Henry C. Ferris, Charles F. Lowery, A.B. Claxton, L. Harris, ,L. I. Luckett, William Leland, James D. Chedal, H.W. Baldwin, S.H. Pollard, F.P. Allen, L.A. Besancon, H.F. Middleton, John Quigley, W.S. Clary, who for many years later was a clerk in the post office; William Jones, L.R. Folk, Thomas W. Waldegrave, P.A. Sage, afterward a job printer; J.R. Petitt, Samuel Barnes, James Remington, W.P. Greer, for many years a job; L.A. Gobright, who for several years was connected with the Republic, and, during the busy days of the civil war, was an agent of the Associated Press; J.P. Wilson, J.W Correy, R.A. Taylor, E.B. Kelly, W.A. Kennedy, afterward in the book and stationery business; John Bowen and W.S Cropley.
* * *
In 1835 another attempt to form a national society was made, but nothing was accomplished. John Stockwell had succeeded Mr. Duncan in the presidency; Michael Larner was vice president, James F. Haliday was recording secretary and Michael Caton had commenced his long series of years as treasurer. In that year the following were admitted to membership: R.L. Moore, John W. Wane, E. Pritchard, John H. Wilson, G. Bossler, James Ashby,, W.H. Terett, Blythe Andrews, Hiram Hayes, James Robertson, Michael Hayes, David Robertson, ED. Seymour, David Hanlon, William De Witt, George Gordon, Benjamin P Bissell, Daniel Butler, John Finch, C. O’Neal, James H Ellsworth, John F. Watson, RA. Eaton,, Alfred A. Speake, William H Moore, Samuel Lane, William E. Monroe, Joel S. Brown, Eleazer Brown, P.H. Brooks, Charles A. Anderson, I.N. Fleason and Cyrus W. Murray.
At the December meeting, 1835, a resolution invited all typographical societies to elect delegates to a convention to form a national typographical union but it was not accomplished for several years thereafter.