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The Times and The Daily Times
The Daily Times commenced publication in Richmond on October 22, 1886. One of its competitors, the Richmond Whig described the paper as “a neatly printed little daily of twenty-four columns.”(Earle Dunford, Richmond Times-Dispatch: The Story of a Newspaper [Richmond, VA: Cadmus, 1995], 29).
Major Lewis S. Ginter, a local businessman, former Confederate army officer, and philanthropist, was the Daily Time’s first owner and operator However, Ginter soon sold the unprofitable paper to a business associate, Joseph Bryan, who would eventually transform the Daily Times into an advocate of industry, conservative politics, and traditional Virginia culture (Dictionary of Virginia Biography, s.v. “Bryan, Joseph”). In January 1890, the name of the paper was changed to the Times, and new imagery appeared on its banner. “We have,” Bryan explained, “thought the present a fit occasion to blazon conspicuously at our head the arms and motto of Virginia, having to ‘support’ them, her own greatest ‘supporters,’ Washington and Lee.” With Bryan at the helm of the Times, it is no wonder that Robert E. Lee’s image appeared in the banner opposite George Washington’s. The Times was the first southern newspaper to be set type by the Mergenthaler Linotype. Its front page, like that of other newspapers at the time, included social notes, advertisements, wireless reports on local and national events, and short news stories.
A scion of an influential Richmond family, Bryan had been wounded twice during the Civil War, but his loyalty to the South only deepened with its defeat. Bryan labored tirelessly to reverse the changes imposed during Reconstruction. The rise of the Populists caused Bryan’s political loyalties to take an unexpected turn. Although a member of the 1896 Democratic Committee, Bryan opposed the party’s free silver platform. His anti-Free Silver editorials and backing of the Republican presidential candidate, William McKinley, diminished the Times’ appeal. In that same year, Bryan acquired the Evening Leader, which “deliberately set out to be a friendly journal and not an organ of economic and political purity” in an attempt to recover some of the Times’ former readership.
Eager to exert his influence over the city’s press, Bryan also purchased the rival Richmond Dispatch, which was merged with the Times in 1903 to form the Times-Dispatch. In 1908, Bryan bought the News Leader, itself a merger of the Evening Leader and the Richmond News, making him the exclusive owner of the city’s two largest dailies.
A notable tradition that purportedly ended with Bryan was that of the dueling newspaperman. Jefferson Wallace, as secretary of Richmond’s Democratic Committee, had challenged Bryan to a duel because of a comment published in the Times, but Bryan refused because he considered duels uncivilized. “So, it may be said,” writes John A. Cutchins in Memories of Old Richmond (White Marsh, VA: McClure Press, 1973], 26) “that Mr. Joseph Bryan...finally brought an end to the barbarous practice of settling a question by men shooting one another.”
Provided by: Library of Virginia; Richmond, VA