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The Western News
James Turner Farris and R. L. Davis published the first edition of the weekly Western News in Stevensville, Montana, in December 1890, with extensive coverage of the hanging of four Kootenai Indians, along with the efforts to remove the Salish from their traditional homeland in the Bitterroot valley to the Flathead Reservation established in the 1855 Stevens Treaty. Chief Charlo's band refused to leave until 1891 when demand for the rich agricultural lands in the Bitterroot became overwhelming.
In 1895, the Western News was sold to Miles Romney, the son of Mormon farmers who moved to the Bitterroot valley in 1881, a man with no prior journalistic experience. In short order, Romney established himself and his newspaper as one of the most caustic critics of Marcus Daly and the Anaconda Copper Mining Company. Daly had platted the town of Hamilton in 1890, home to his large lumber mill and Bitterroot Stock Farms. Romney ran unsuccessfully as a Democratic candidate for Secretary of State in 1904 and again in 1908, but was elected as a Progressive to the state senate in 1906. Newspapers across Montana reprinted Romney's fiery editorials against the railroads, the beef trust, the timber barons, and the copper kings in Butte. The Western News reprinted the speeches and articles of trust-buster President Theodore Roosevelt.
In 1910, Romney created the People's Power League, successfully promoting women's suffrage, primary elections, and a "corrupt practices" law limiting campaign spending. Romney and the League also lobbied to enact a tax on mineral extraction. In the 1930s, Romney left his newspaper for his son, Miles Romney Jr., who continued his father's muckraking tradition.
Provided by: Montana Historical Society; Helena, MT