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The Smoky Hill and Republican Union
With the noteworthy motto “We Join Ourselves to No Party That Does Not Carry The Flag, and Keep Step to the Music of the Union,” The Smoky Hill and Republican Union clearly expressed its antislavery sentiment. Published from 1861 until 1864 in Junction City, Kansas, the seat of Davis (now Geary) County in the northeast part of the state, the newspaper’s title refers to the two rivers, the Smoky Hill and the Republican, that converge in the city. At the time it was the westernmost newspaper in Kansas. The Smoky Hill and Republican Union maintained a four-page, six-column folio sheet format throughout its tenure. It was published each Saturday except for a one-month suspension from December 26, 1861, until January 30, 1862, when there was a change in ownership.
George W. Kingsbury, editor and proprietor, released the first issue of The Smoky Hill and Republican Union on September 12, 1861. Kingsbury had been intimately involved in the printing of the county’s first newspaper, the Junction Sentinel, in 1858-59. The Smoky Hill and Republican Union frequently covered the events of the Civil War and local elections and promoted the “patriot [i.e., Unionist] platform.” Following Quantrill’s Raid on Lawrence in August 1863, the headlines reported the “unparalleled barbarism” of the Confederates and “heroism of the [local] women.” During Confederate General Sterling Price’s attacks along the Kansas and Missouri border in October 1864, the newspaper’s headlines reported the “repulse” and “total rout of Price.” The Union intended “to use what little power we possess against rebels, whether they are upon soil made glorious by freedom, or rendered cursed by the blighting hand of slavery.”
Kingsbury sold the paper in December 1861 and moved to Yankton, Dakota Territory, where he became a prominent pioneer newspaperman and author. Beginning on January 30, 1862, William S. Blakely and George W. Martin assumed the control of the paper. The Union was sold on November 19, 1864, and renamed the Courier, but the new owners printed only two issues before suspending publication. George W. Martin, acting as editor, once again revived the newspaper on April 15, 1865 under the name of The Junction City Union. The Junction City Union experienced several title changes and reincarnations in weekly and daily form up to the present. Martin held various positions, becoming one of the more respected newspapermen and civil servants of his time.
Provided by: Kansas State Historical Society; Topeka, KS