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Country: United States
City: Knoxville, Tenn.
Issues of this title available in Elephind: 239
Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 1,924
Earliest Date: 6 April 1870
Latest Date: 24 February 1875
Knox Countian, William Rule began in journalism in 1860 as a “printer’s devil” on Brownlow’s Knoxville Whig. When Confederate forces shut down Parson William G. Brownlow’s paper in 1861, Rule enlisted in the Union Army and by the time he mustered out in 1865 had become a first lieutenant. After the war “Captain” Rule joined the editorial staff at the revived Brownlow’s Knoxville Whig, leaving in 1869 after Brownlow became a United States Senator and the paper switched political allegiance to support the Democratic Party. Although the majority of voters in Knox County and East Tennessee were Republicans, the city of Knoxville had no Republican paper. On April 6, 1870, Rule and his associate, Henry C. Tarwater, inaugurated the Knoxville Weekly Chronicle. A daily edition --the Knoxville Daily Chronicle --followed a month later. The paper was published from the pre-war offices of Brownlow’s Knoxville Whig on Gay Street. In October 1870, Tarwater sold his share of the paper to editorial employee, August J. Ricks. Then in 1875 Ricks sold his share in the paper to Brownlow as he returned to Knoxville after his senatorial term in Washington. Even in failing health and physically unable to write, Brownlow held the title of editor-in-chief. The name of the weekly edition was changed to the Knoxville Whig and Chronicle, acknowledging Brownlow’s continuing prominence.
During these early days of the Knoxville Daily Chronicle, Rule gave a start to a young boy who would later become the publisher of the New York Times. At age 11, Adolph Ochs was a newsboy for the Chronicle. At age 12 he became an office boy and then went on to learn the printing trade as a “printer’s devil.” Under Rule’s guidance, Ochs became a reporter in his late teens and later purchased the Chattanooga Times and in 1896, the New York Times.
After Brownlow’s death in 1877, his share of the Chronicle was sold to long-time employee Rudolph A. Brown, with Rule continuing as editor until November 1882. Earlier that year, Rule had denounced the editors of the rival Knoxville Daily Tribune as “cowardly puppies.” Tribune editor James W. Wallace challenged Rule in the street and demanded a retraction; Rule responded by breaking his cane over Wallace’s head. Wallace drew his pistol and fired, but the shots missed.
In late 1882, the Knoxville Daily Chronicle was sold to a stock company, and Henry R. Gibson was named editor. An attorney and politician, Gibson had founded the Knoxville Republican in 1879. Upon purchasing the Knoxville Chronicle, he merged the two papers to create the Republican Chronicle. In 1886, after several changes of editor, the paper went into receivership and was sold at a public sale in Nashville to one of its creditors. Shortly thereafter the Republican Chronicle was sold again to William Rule and Samuel Marfield who were then publishers of the Knoxville Journal. The two papers merged, but “Chronicle” was dropped from the title. William Rule continued to serve as editor until his death in 1928, aged 89. He was described by Time magazine as “the oldest active editor in the U.S.”
Provided by: University of Tennessee