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Martinsburg herald. [volume] : (Martinsburg, W. Va.) 1881-1920
Place of publication:
Martinsburg, W. Va.
Geographic coverage:
  • Martinsburg, Berkeley, West Virginia  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
A.S. Goulden & John T. Reily
Dates of publication:
  • Began on Sept. 17, 1881.
  • Ceased in 1921.
  • English
  • Martinsburg (W. Va.)--Newspapers.
  • West Virginia--Martinsburg.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01224867
  • Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 11 (Nov. 26, 1881).
sn 85059533
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Martinsburg herald.

The Republicans of Berkeley County once bemoaned the difficulty of editing a political paper when "the Republican backbone" in Berkeley "was weakened by Democratic domination." This obstacle did not prevent editors A. S. Goulden and John T. Reily from establishing the Martinsburg Herald in 1881. A thoroughly Republican paper, the Martinsburg Herald retained its original management until 1885, when Reily purchased Goulden's interest in the paper and associated himself with George F. Evans, a manufacturer of cigars and wholesale dealer in tobacco. In addition to being a Republican paper, the Martinsburg Herald was "A Weekly Family Journal—Devoted to Home Interests, Local News, &c.;" It followed a fairly consistent format: the first page contained literature, the second political reports, the third local news, and the fourth advertisements.

The Republican element of the Martinsburg Herald was secondary under Reily and Evans, but it was not absent. Reily and Evans championed protection and denounced free trade during the presidential election of 1888. They believed restricting imports from other countries would promote American producers, businesses, and workers. "Protection always won when the issue was openly against Free Trade," the editors said of the 1888 Republican victory. "Labor of all kinds fears free trade, and well it may. Labor was aroused, and Labor is the Lion of America." Reily and Evans envisioned a lion that represented unity, something they wanted for the Republican Party.

A healthy repugnance of party factionalism followed the Martinsburg Herald into the Progressive Era, even as it became increasingly political. It no longer bore the title "Family Journal" after A. B. Smith and J. H. Mowbry replaced Reily as editor on July 22, 1893. The new Martinsburg Herald published extensively on free silver, a monetary policy that favored unlimited coinage of silver into money on demand. Both Smith and Mowbry, as well as the editors who succeeded them, criticized free silver and its populist Democrat defender, William Jennings Bryan. They predicted an economic collapse under Bryan's silver standard and urged farmers, the potential beneficiaries of free silver, to "not pursue a phantom and bring down on his own head worse ills than he now suffers."

The reformist spirit of the Progressive Era did not penetrate the pages of the Martinsburg Herald. The editors had other concerns, particularly in 1912, when ex-president Theodore Roosevelt ran against incumbent William H. Taft, creating a schism in the Republican Party. There was no subtlety in their assertion that the "motto of the new [Progressive] party seems to be 'Kill the Republican party; elect Roosevelt at the same time if possible, but in any event kill the Republican party.'" Republicans and Progressives alike felt the sting of defeat when Democrat Woodrow Wilson won the presidency in 1912 and 1916.

The Republican Party survived its splintering and the victory of Wilson; the Martinsburg Herald did not. The final issue appeared on December 27, 1919, under the World Publishing Company. The editorial body gave no indication that this issue would be the Herald's last. It published a variety of articles, as it always had, including a speech from its former political rival, William Jennings Bryan. It was strangely ironic—maybe even appropriate—that Bryan had the final say in a paper that had spent twenty years denigrating his policies.

Provided by: West Virginia University