The Library of Congress

Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities external link and the Library of Congress. Learn more

Pages Available: 7,597,817

The Washington Sentinel was a weekly founded in 1873 by attorney Louis Schade. The Saturday paper covered national and international news from a strongly Democratic political viewpoint. In its first issue on July 4, 1873, the paper offered a salutatory promising to provide "a firm and legitimate opposition to all the encroachments of the enemies of civil and religious liberty." Notably, until 1893 the offices of the Sentinel were located in the house where Abraham Lincoln died - 516 Tenth Street, across the street from Ford’s Theatre. Later, the four-page, 21 x 27 inch paper relocated to 804 E Street.

The Sentinel largely voiced the interests of Schade himself. A German immigrant, Schade got his start managing two newspapers owned by Senator Stephen A. Douglas - the National German Democrat and the National Union. After stumping for Douglas and the Democratic Party in Illinois, Schade began working as a lawyer representing the United States Brewers’ Association. Consequently, the Democratic newspaper devoted much of its pages to opposing the temperance movement, advocating lenient immigration legislation, and calling for small government for the protection of civil liberties. The paper also included substantial international coverage of such events as the Boer War in South Africa, which stirred Schade’s anti-British sentiment.

Schade's brazen outspokenness and his use of the Sentinel as a personal soapbox proved to be a bad combination for the paper's reputation. In 1880, owners of the Washington Post accused Schade of libeling their editor and called his paper "a scurrilous weekly sheet...to aid him in selling a patent beer-bung starter." He also garnered notoriety for his legal defense of Confederate Captain Henry Wirz, who was charged and executed for war crimes for his mismanagement of the Union prison at Andersonville, Georgia. All of these happenings coupled with Schade's blatant lobbying on behalf of brewers (including a full back page spread of beer advertisements) contributed to the decline of the Sentinel. After his death, his son, Louis F. Schade, Jr., took over and altered the paper's format and attempted to provide better balanced content. After a brief revival, however, the paper struggled on but a few more years. It had disappeared by 1911.

Provided by: Library of Congress, Washington, DC