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On July 9, 1869, the first issue of the New North-West rolled off the presses in Deer Lodge, Montana, under the direction of James Hamilton Mills. A native of Ohio and a veteran of the Union Army, Mills had arrived in Virginia City, Montana, in 1866 with ten cents in his pocket. He came to Deer Lodge after editing the Montana Post for several years. In the first issue of the New North-West, Mills linked the newspaper's name to a new era of agricultural and mining development in the Deer Lodge Valley and beyond, in the greater Northwest. Mills also trumpeted a vision of the future which included the Northern Pacific Railroad and the territorial prison. In that same inaugural issue Mills also introduced the political platform of the People's Party of Deer Lodge County, criticizing exorbitant taxes and the atmosphere of violence and disorder. The slate of Populist candidates came from nearby Beartown, French Gulch, and Butte, and the Deer Lodge Valley.
For the next 22 years, Mills edited the New North-West, actively promoting Republican politics and politicians. Like many of Montana's early newspaper editors, Mills gained notoriety beyond the pages of his newspaper. Prior to his death in 1904, Mills served as Secretary of the Montana Territory; Adjutant General; State Commissioner of Agriculture, Labor, and Industry; Powell County Clerk & Recorder; Grand Master of the Montana Masons; and first president of the Montana Press Association. In the battle between Anaconda and Helena over the location of the state capital, Mills editorialized unsuccessfully against copper king William Clark and Helena in favor of Marcus Daly and Anaconda. According to Mills, Daly and his Anaconda Company represented the source of all wealth in Montana, both mineral and agricultural. Ten years earlier, the New North-West stood against monopolies and the exploitation of American workers. Then the paper hewed closely to Populist positions, including a bimetallic currency, an important issue for silver miners in Montana.
Provided by: Montana Historical Society; Helena, MT