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As Hawai‘i’s oldest continuously-published newspaper, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin has a complex history. The paper was first conceived in 1870 as the Daily Marine Bulletin by Henry M. Whitney after he was forced to sell the Pacific Commercial Advertiser--the forerunner of the Honolulu Advertiser--amid criticism for his condemnation of the government’s role in importing labor from Asia. Soon after the sale, Whitney began posting a hand-written, single-sheet daily news bulletin titled the Daily Marine Bulletin from his stationary and book business. The Daily Marine Bulletin included news and information on ship arrivals and mail dispatches and yet was reproached by the Advertiser: “The title of ‘Marine’ Bulletin appears to us a misnomer, seeing that gossip and criticism is [sic] freely and rather recklessly indulged in, as to matters that are not the least marine in their nature.” The comment marked the beginning of what would be a long rivalry between the two papers.

In 1878, James W. Robertson bought Whitney’s firm and continued publishing Whitney’s daily under various titles including the Daily Commercial Bulletin and J.W. Robertson’s Daily Bulletin. Although the lack of any holdings for this period make it difficult to find accurate information about the paper’s form and content, the first printed edition of the Daily Bulletin, launched on February 1, 1882, suggests that the new paper was a continuation of the hand-written sheet Robertson had taken over from Whitney five years earlier: “With this issue commences a new edition of our mornings [sic] Bulletin. After this it will appear in printed form, and will be delivered every morning free […] and if it is received as well as our written ones were, we will be satisfied.”

Although the revamped Daily Bulletin had begun as a one-page sheet that consisted primarily of advertisements and a few public announcements, the paper quickly expanded under a series of new owners and editors including G. Carson Kenyon, Charles R. Buckland, Daniel Logan, and Arthur Johnstone. By January 1886, the Daily Bulletin was generally four pages in length, with special issues reaching as many as ten pages. And although paper’s motto boasted “Pledged to neither Sect nor Party. But established for the benefit of all,” the Daily Bulletin staunchly defended the 1887 Bayonet Constitution and the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy.

Beginning May 16, 1895, the Daily Bulletin was continued by the Evening Bulletin, which by 1898 was under the leadership of former Honolulu Advertiser editor and future Territorial Governor Wallace R. Farrington. One month later the Evening Bulletin absorbed Daniel Logan’s short-lived Independent and quickly emerged as a strong advocate for Hawaiian annexation and statehood. On July 1, 1912, the Evening Bulletin merged with the Hawaiian Star to form the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. American businessman Joseph B. Atherton had established the Hawaiian Star in Honolulu as the official voice of the Provisional Government following the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893. Needless to say that, with the “Star” in its title symbolizing the American flag and firm editorials warning Hawaiians against bringing back any form of monarchy, the Hawaiian Star was consistently pro-American and pro-annexation.

Much like its predecessors, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin maintained a consistently pro-American editorial stance. It campaigned strongly in favor of statehood throughout the first half of the 20th century and has promoted American political and economic interests in Hawai‘i ever since. In 2010, Honolulu Star-Bulletin owner David Black of O‘ahu Publications purchased the rival Honolulu Advertiser from Gannett Company and announced plans to merge the two papers; the new paper is called the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Provided by: University of Hawaii at Manoa; Honolulu, HI