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Country: United States
State: South Carolina
City: Charleston, S.C.
Issues of this title available in Elephind: 2,641
Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 11,569
Earliest Date: 21 August 1865
Latest Date: 5 April 1873
The Charleston Daily News (1865-73) was one of the first Southern newspapers to successfully meet the public demand for information that arose during and after the Civil War. Ostensibly centered on events in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina, the Daily News was, in fact, a paper with a much broader focus.
South Carolinians George R. Cathcart and James W. McMillan and New York native Manfred Morton founded the Daily News; the first issue appeared on Monday, August 14, 1865. The publishers, however, encountered a series of obstacles, from disagreements between editor Cathcart (who supported the Federal government’s Reconstruction efforts) and his partners to competition from the Charleston Daily Courier and the Charleston Mercury for advertisers. In October 1867, Bartholomew R. Riordan and Francis Warrington Dawson bought a third of the paper for $6,000 from its proprietor, Benjamin Wood, who also published the Daily News in New York City. A Virginia native, Riordan had previously worked for the New Orleans Daily Delta. Dawson, an Englishman, had worked for the Daily Richmond Examiner, Richmond Daily Dispatch, and Charleston Mercury.
Their experience in the newspaper business notwithstanding, Dawson and Riordan faced hurdles in transforming the Daily News into a successful enterprise. Its debts totaled almost $20,000, and its presses were ancient. They expanded the paper’s coverage of international, national, and statewide events, strengthened its editorial content, and reduced subscription costs. Accolades rolled in almost immediately from regional newspapers, including the Abbeville Banner, Savannah Daily Advertiser, Wilmington Journal, and Yorkville Enquirer. In January 1868, Dawson and Riordan launched the Charleston Tri-Weekly News and in the 1870s began a weekly edition, the Weekly News, which continued through 1884.
As editor, Dawson simultaneously castigated and cheered developments in South Carolina. He argued that the state’s reliance on cash crops like cotton had left its economy too vulnerable to forces beyond its control. He championed manufacturing and immigration and encouraged business and community leaders to diversify their local economies and invest in railroads. He fiercely criticized the Republican-dominated Reconstruction-era government for its perceived corruptness and ineffectiveness, but he urged white Carolinians to use the power of the ballot, not violence, to change the government. In 1871, he condemned the violent tactics of the Ku Klux Klan. Throughout the 1870s, Dawson straddled a precarious line, exhorting the people to follow the laws while at the same time seeking to discredit the state government.
The Charleston Daily News eventually outlived Riordan and Dawson, albeit under other names. In 1873, they bought the Charleston Daily Courier and merged it with the Daily News. The first issue of the new paper, the Charleston News and Courier, appeared April 7, 1873. The News and Courier went on to become one of the longest-running daily newspapers in South Carolina, merging in 1991 with the Charleston Evening Post to form the Charleston Post and Courier.
Provided by: University of South Carolina; Columbia, SC