Daily State Journal
Place of publication: Alexandria & Richmond, VA
The Daily State Journal was among a handful of Republican papers printed in Richmond during and immediately after the Civil War. The State Journal was first published under the title Virginia State Journal in Alexandria, in 1862. By 1868, its publishers, Charles Whittlesey and Bosanquet Wesley Gillis, moved the paper to Richmond to serve as the party's official organ. Most of Virginia's Republican papers were located in Richmond, one of the party's few sources of strength in the state. Many Republican editors moved to Richmond during Reconstruction.
The Daily State Journal took a more moderate tone than other Republican papers. Editorials and articles, although sympathetic to the Republican cause, strongly opposed Reverend James W. Hunnicutt, the radical editor of the rival Republican Richmond New Nation. It is not surprising that the State Journal took a cautious stand given Richmond;s largely Democratic populace during the chaotic aftermath of the war.
According to the newspaper's bylines, Whittlesey left the State Journal in 1868. Gillis was its part or sole owner and manager through 1871 when Edward Daniels took the reins as editor. Among Gillis's parting words were: "The Journal has been devoted unwaveringly to the support of Republican principles. Beginning in a period of flagrant war, it has survived that most terrible calamity, and has lived to see a restored Union and a triumphant and assured nationality." Gillis continued, "I shall always reflect upon its career with pride, and it will be a source of continual satisfaction with me that I conducted the only Republican paper in Virginia which began in the darkest period of the war; which saw the struggle triumphantly ended, and which lived to see the Union restored by the reconstruction of every State."
The Reconstruction era offered new opportunities for newspapers such as State Journal, which became "the official paper for the Government." Daniels announced a "new career" for the paper in promoting public schools, home industry, and free banking. The State Journal made huge strides in covering the news in Richmond, including a front-page story in April of 1871 of blacks being gerrymandered into unfair voting districts. Daniels characterized the Richmond city council as "determined to form a new ward ... in the most diabolically offensive and shameless manner possible, and utterly disregarding everything but the certainty of their scheme." Other Richmond papers such as the Daily Dispatch merely printed the minutes of the council meeting, offering little or no comment on the decision or its outcome.
As Southern whites became more hostile to the Republican Party, Republican editors grew more dependent upon state and federal patronage to survive. Once Democrats reclaimed control of Southern states, they systematically ended the lucrative printing contracts to Republican newspapers. Without patronage, these papers closed one after the other. In 1875, Congress ended the federal subsidy of the Daily State Journal. The Republican Party's flagship paper disappeared later that year. It was succeeded by the Richmond State, which lasted only a couple of years. By 1880, Virginia had only two Republican papers, the Norfolk Day Book and the Staunton Valley Virginian.