CHARES JNES 188-113:EDITOR AN'D PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT
Thomas S. Graham
Thomas 3. Craham
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFIL111ENT OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
From 1869 until 1897 Charles H. Jones was, with few inter-
ruptions, editing one or more periodical publications. Between
1868 and 1907 he wrote or edited more than a dozen books and many
magazine articles. In addition to this he carried on a wide cor-
respondence with personal friends, relatives, and political or
business associates. As a result the present-day researcher is
confronted with a formidable amount of published and unpublished
information relating to his life and career.
I am indebted to.many individuals and institutions for
their help in locating and making available these materials. I
also owe a debt of thanks to the people who gave advice and encour-
agement in the preparation of this study. Mrs. Carl G. Freeman,
Bat Cave, North Carolina, granddaughter of Charles H. Jones,
graciously permitted me to use the Charles H. Jones Papers which
are in her possession. Mr. Richard A. Martin of Jacksonville
made available Xerox copies of most of the material in the Jones
Papers and helped to initiate this project. Professor Julian
Rammelkamp of Albion College pointed out several sources relat-
ing to Jones' career in Missouri journalism and offered many
suggestions relating to interpretation.
I wish to thank Miss Elizabeth Alexander and the staff of
the P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History, as well as the staff
of the University of Florida Research Library, for their assistance.
Mr. Sherman L. Butler, Interlibrary Loan Librarian, provided inval-
uable aid in locating and securing numerous rare published items
and a large number of microfilmed newspapers. I would also like
to thank the staffs of the following libraries: Haydon Burns
Library, Jacksonville; Florida State Library, Tallahassee; Joint
Universities Library, Nashville; Chicago Public Library; Washing-
ton University Library, St. Louis; Missouri Historical Society
Library, St. Louis; and St. Louis Public Library. Copies of the
St. Louis Mirror wdre made available by the Carol McDonald
Gardner Rare Book Room, St. Louis Public Library.
I am grateful to the members of my graduate committee,
Professor Samuel Proctor, E. A. Hammond, Lyle N. McAlister, Ancil
N. Payne, Claude C. Sturgill, and Manning J. Dauer for their sug-
gestions and evaluations. Ey committee.chairman Samuel Proctor
is due particular thanks for his counsel and criticism and for his
judicious editing of the manuscript.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGNENTS. . . . . . . . . . . ii
ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . . . . . v
I A GEORGIA BOY ON PARK ROW . . . . . . 1
NOTES TO CHAPTER I. . . . . . . . 19
II FROM LITERARY GENTLEMAN TO NEWSPAPER EDITOR . 23
NOTES TO CRAPTER II . . . . . . . 45
III INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM. . . . . . . 50
NOTES TO CKAPTER III. . . . . . . . 73
IV EDITOR AS POLITICIAN. . . . . . . . 79
NOTES TO CHAPTER IV . . . . . . . 115
V FLORIDA'S GREATEST NEWSPAPER. . . . . . 125
NOTES TO CHAPTER V. . . . . . . . 175
VI SPOKESMAN FOR WESTERN DEMOCRACY . . . . 188
NOTES TO CHATPER VI . . . . . . . 254
VII THE SECOND DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. ... . 270
NOTES TO CHAPTER VII. . . . . . . . 312
VIII EPILOGUE. . . . . . . . . . . 323
NOTES TO CHAPTER VIII . . . . . . . 327
BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . . . . 328
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. . . . . . . . . . 339
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the
Graduate Council of the University of Florida in Partial
Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
CHARLES H. JONES, 1848-1913: EDITOR AND PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT
Thomas S. Graham
Chairman: Dr. Samuel Proctor
Major Department: History
The present study is an examination of the life and career
of Charles H. Jones. Born in Talbotton, Georgia, before the
Civil War, Jones went to New York after the end of that conflict
in 1865. He became a contributor to several popular magazines,
editor of the Eclectic and co-editor of Appleton's Journal, and
a writer and editor for D. Appleton Company and Henry Holt. He
came to Florida in 1881 and established the Jacksonville Florida
Daily Times, merging it with the Jacksonville Daily Florida Union
in 1883 to form the Jacksonville Florida Times-Union. He was
active in state and national politics and also took part in the
formation of the National Editorial Association and the American
Newspaper Publishers Association. In 1887 he became part-owner
and editor of the St, Louis Republic. He left the Republic in
1893, becoming editor of the New York World, and then, from 1895
to 1897, the editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. During this
time he remained active in politics, both on the state and national
levels. He drafted the Democratic platforms of 1892, 1896, and
1900. He was a correspondent of both Grover Cleveland and William
This study is based on the publications written or edited
by Jones, other contemporary publications, and considerable
manuscript material, including the Charles H. Jones papers.
This study examines Jones' involvement in the intellect-
ual, social, political, and business questions of the second half
of the 19th century. It is particularly concerned with newspaper
history, partisan politics, and major political issues.
A GEORGIA BOY ON PARK RON
The town of Talbotton lies northeast of Columbus in the
clay hills of Georgia. In antebellum days it was a small but
bright and prosperous community of well kept homes surrounded
by vegetable and flower gardens. Being the county seat and the
only town in the area it was a center of social life and
education. It was there that Charles Henry Jones was born on
March 7, 1848. His mother Susan Eleanor Jones was the daughter
of Stephen Greene, a cousin of General Nathanael Greene, of
Revolutionary War fame, and a.cotton buyer in Savannah for a
New England mill. Charles's father was George washington Jones,
son of a Delaware farmer, who was a dentist and part-time
physician for a health resort at nearby Warm Springs. George W.
Jones was a dark and laconic man, aloof from his children and
.rigid in his ideas about family order.1 He had come to Savannah
where he met and married his wife. Later he moved to Albany,
where his first son James was born. In 1884 the family moved
to Talbotton where a daughter Mary was born, followed by Charles,
a daughter Sidonia, and another son George.2
Susan Jones was a serious, dbitutive woman of such poor
health that she was confined to her home for many years of
Charles Jones's childhood. She was intelligent and cultivated.
and was very active in the local Episcopal church. Of her
Jones would later write: "She was in many respects the most
remarkable woman I have known, and she was so much to me that
it is hard for me to analyze or discriminate. She trained my
mind and moulded my character. To her more than to all other
human beings, more than to all other influences combined, I am
indebted for what I am, for what I have been, and for what I
have done in the world."3
According to Jones's account of his education, he learned
to point out the twenty-six letters of the alphabet in his
father's prayer book before he could speak, and by the age of
four he was studying geography, arithmetic, grammar, and
history. Part of his lessons involved recitation of long
passages memorized verbatim from the text of school books. His
mother demanded that he master these lessons with perfection,
seldom offering encouragement or praise. At an age when most
children are just beginning to learn to read, he had a tutor,
first for Latin and then Greek. At the age of eleven he was
enrolled as a day student at Collingsworth Institute, a
boarding school for boys located in Talbotton. Because of the
thorough education that he had received at home the teachers
at Collingsworth set up a special course for him and one other
advanced student. Despite the demands of his studies, Jones
used his spare time to read every book that he could borrow.
Sir Walter Scott was the popular southern poet and novelist of
that day, but Jones also read Goldsmith, Bunyan, Defoe, and any
book of history or biography that he could lay his hands on.
"Drum and trumpet" histories were his favorite. An effort was
made to enroll him at the University of Georgia at age thirteen,
Jones recalled, but he was refused because of his youth.
The austere educational regime imposed by his mother,
combined with the absence of fatherly affection, had, as Jones
later realized, "a lasting influence upon my character, affect-
ing my conduct, my attitude towards others, even my views of
life. . One result of this attitude of both my parents has
been that during all my life it has been difficult for me to
give expression to my feelings in the customary ways. A reserve,
a reticence, a habit of self-repression has always held me back,
even when I was conscious of it and tried to overcome it."5
Whether from his family life or from the praise he gained
because of his early precociousness, Jones developed other
lasting traits of character. The "instinct of competition,"
the drive to excel at every undertaking was apparent in him
from his youth. Combined with this striving for success was
a desire that it be rewarded with recognition, and even in
childhood "gratification of vanity" became a primary motivating
force. Competition for success and thirst for praise were to
be the theme of his life.
Among Jones's classmates at Collingsworth were Isidore,
Nathan, and Oscar Straus, the sons of Lazarus Straus, a German
Jew who had recently immigrated to the United States after the
Revolution of 1848. Mr. Straus, who ran a dry goods store, was
a respected man in the community despite his religion and foreign
ways. The Straus family moved North after the Civil War
where they became wealthy in the china importing business and
then acquired part ownership of Macy Company in New York.
Oscar and Isidore Straus became active in politics, the former
being made a member of Theodore Roosevelt's cabinet and minister
to Turkey, and the latter becoming a Congressman from New York.
Both were friends of President Cleveland. Oscar Straus re-
mained a friend of Jones during their adult lives.
Although George Jones owned only one slave, slavery was
a prominent feature of life in Talbotton, and to young Charles
it seemed part of the natural order of things. He grew up near
a town where the evils of slavery were perhaps less conspicuous,
but visited large plantations and would later recall that the
slaves seemed the happiest laborers he ever knew. As he remem-
bered it, "the fields and plantation quarters of the old South
were melodious and cheerful with song and banter and careless
laughter, And the house servants, in particular, were treated
with a geniality, even with a familiarity, that is now unknown
in the South or elsewhere."* One incident, however, witnessed
as an eight-year-old, convinced him that slavery was somehow
wrong. Having been sent to the town square one day on an
errand, he chanced upon a slave auction being held on the court
house steps. There a slave woman and her child were separated
and sold apart. The anguish of the woman was terrifying to him,
although at the time he did not realize the full implications
of what he had seen. As he grew to manhood he became convinced
that slavery was a curse on slave and master alike. In later
years, Jones "came to the assured conviction that the Civil War
between the South and the North would have been worth all it
cost in money and wealth, in human life and in human anguish,
if it had accomplished nothing more than the overthrow of that
With the coming of the Civil War, life in Talbotton changed.
Although there was never real hunger there, some items such as
salt and coffee became scarce, and the town lost its prosperous
appearance.11 Nearly-all the town's able-bodied men, including
Jones's older brother James, enlisted in the Confederate forces.
Charles, only thirteen when the war broke out, remained behind.
According to family tradition, he once ran away to the war, was
returned home or was brought back by his father, and then en-
listed or re-enlisted during the last months of the conflict.12
Later references made by Jones seem to confirm this story. His
first enlistment may have come in late 1863 or early 1864, in
time for him to see action in the Battle of Atlanta.13 He was
home some time in 1864 and described himself as then "a soldier
who had been through the nerve-wracking scenes enacted on
battlefields."14 In the fall of 1864 he rejoined the army and
was with Hardee's troops when they evacuated Savannah, escaping
across pontoon bridges on the Savannah River in the face of
Sherman's army.15 As an old man he would recall to his grand-
daughter the depths to which the troops were brought during the
closing days of the war. At one time he said they were reduced
to eating vermin and chewing shoeleather, and when by chance,
he encountered his brother James in the field, he begged two
slices of bread from him, although James was hardly better off
than himself.16 At the war's and Jones was in Columbus, Georgia,
where he was paroled by federal officers in July, 1865. "Seeing
that the South was strewn with the wreckage of war and would
for a long time offer no career to its young men," Jones departed
for the North in August to join his older sister Mary, who was
living with her husband in New York.17
When Jones arrived in New York he was a slender, delicate
looking young man, seventeen years of age and only five feet
six inches tall.18 He had a gaunt, hollow-cheeked look, but a
firm mouth and chin.19 He accepted "a very lowly position"
with a dry goods store on Broadway, but worked his way into a
respectable clerking position within a year. However, he "had
no intentions of remaining in the dry goods business," and,
having saved some money, he embarked on a career as a "literary
In the winter of 1866-1867 he sent his first article to
ex-Confederate General D. H. Hill's magazine Land He Love, and,
much to his surprise, he received an acceptance notice and a
check.21 Land We Love (later to be called Southern Magazine)
carried stories of the recent war, agricultural articles, poetry,
literary reviews and travel accounts--all aimed at a southern
audience and bearing the stamp of southern views.22 Following
the custom of the day, many of the articles were unsigned, so
it is impossible to identify Jones's first modest literary
The first article which can definitely be attributed to
Jones appeared in Land He Love in the issue of October, 1868.
It was a description of Chicago, apparently written from an
eyewitness account. His comments were largely favorable. The
industriousness of the people impressed him; the stock yards
and their ancillary facilities seemed a remarkable little city
in themselves, but he decried the lack of an opera house and
the public taste which would demand one.23 In a companion
article, published in December, 1868, Jones looked at America's
second great interior city, St. Louis. He praised the appealing
southern atmosphere of the city, with its fine churches, great
hotels, and elegant library. St. Louis appeared to move at a
more leisurely pace than its northern neighbor. Its Roman
Catholic heritage he found to be a hindrance, but the river-
front merchants displayed an abundance of energy.24 Looking
into the future, Jones predicted that the current world-wide
trend toward urbanization would raise up great metropolises through-
out the vast expanses of the United States. He predicted that
either Chicago or St. Louis, the two major interior trade
centers, would become the nation's great city, and Jones
believed that it would be St. Louis: "We see her the seat of
Empire, and of Civilization on this continent--the imperial
metropolis of the West--the great grain emporium of the world."25
This vision of St. Louis's future would gain nationwide publicity
in 1881 with the publication of L. U. Reavis's St. Louis the
Future Great City of the World: and Its Impending Triumph.
Soon Jones was writing regularly for several popular
magazines. As he would later admit, most of his writing "was
of the 'pot-boiling' kind, for I had to live by my pen."26
His second article appeared in Putnam's Monthly Magazine, one
of the lively new periodicals carrying lighter reading matter
and using the latest illustrative techniques. Putnam's could
not pay top rates for its material, nor did it strive for the
highest standards of literary merit. Another magazine to which
he contributed was Round Table, a general interest magazine
edited by Charles G. Alpine and Henry Sedley which competed
with Nation. No signed articles by Jones appear in Round Table,
and it is likely that his contributions were in the form of
book reviews or items from the magazine's numerous correspondents.
Literary criticism was the magazine's speciality, which it did
with dash and in a censorious style.27
In 1868 Jones began to write book reviews for the
Eclectic Magazine, an old and respected journal which was
doing a thriving business in the post-war years. The Eclectic
procured its articles by clipping them from British magazines,
an accepted and legal practice in the absence of international
copyright laws. It published short stories, religious essays,
biographical sketches, articles on popular science, and travel
accounts to suit the tastes of middle class readers--mostly
women.28 In addition to feature articles, the Eclectic carried
several departments on art, science, and "varieties," which
were also edited by the scissors and glue pot method. About
the only areas for original writing were the literary notices,
comments in the "By the Editor" section, and the explanations
of the excellent frontispiece engravings. The quality of the
writing in thedepartments was very low, and even the book
notices were often purloined from other magazines.
The editor of the Eclectic was Walter Hilliard Bidwell,
a Yale-educated Congregational pastor who had turned to editing
religious journals when his voice failed. He had purchased
the Eclectic in 1846 and had edited it himself until the closing
months of the Civil War when failing health forced him to spend
much of his time traveling or resting. When he eventually
withdrew completely from editorial work on the Eclectic during
1868, Jones assumed editorial control. Although Bidwell's
name would remain on the magazine's title page until his death
in 1881, he spent most of his time living with relatives in
Ohio or in travels around the world.29 Jones changed the
character of the Eclectic only in one respect: he upgraded the
"Literary Notices" department, writing the reviews himself in
thesame caustic tone used by Round Table.
The publisher of the Eclectic was Edward R. Pelton, a
young man eight years Jones's senior who had worked for Bidwell
since before the war, and had become Bidwell's partner and
publisher in 1868.30 The Eclectic was published at 108 Fulton
Street until 1875 when its offices were moved to 25 Bond Street.
Pelton also published books, specializing in works on medicine,
and Jones did some editing for him.
In the early 1870's Jones became co-editor of Appleton's
Journal, a publication of D. Appleton Company noted for its
excellent art work. The magazine had begun as a weekly with a
scientific slant, but had evolved into a general literary
journal. It was not a popular success and was slowly dying.
In 1876 it would become a monthly, later it would lose its fine
illustrations, and finally it would expire in 1881.31 Its
editor was Oliver Bell Bunce, a pleasant man with a talent for
writing witty, sophisticated pieces for the magazine's "Table
Talk" section. Bunce would die a young man, but Jones continued
a regular correspondence with his widow for the rest of his
life. He recognized Bunce as one of the few individuals who
had ever helped him.32 Appleton's Journal had an editorial
viewpoint similar to that of the Eclectic. It was coldly
Spencerian on social questions, in favor of reforms to make
government more honest, and hostile to Reconstruction programs
in the South.
By 1871 Jones had developed into a handsome, confident-
looking gentleman, and had begun to cultivate a pair of long,
whispy sideburns which would ultimately develop into a full
beard.33 In February he married Eliza Cowperwaite of
Philadelphia, a woman two years his senior, who had been raised
by her uncle Andrew M. Erstwick, owner of the estate which had
once belonged to naturalist John Bartram.34 She bore the
couple's first child, a daughter who was named Dora, in November.
Fourteen months later Eliza gave birthto a son who was given
his father's name, but the child lived little more than a year,
dying late in the winter of 1874.35
Jones's literary efforts were by no means confined to his
magazines. He was a contributor to Appleton's Cyclopaedia UgLe]
and an editor of Appleton's numerous travel guides, specializing
in southern resorts. The first book bearing his name was the
1873 edition of Appleton's Handbook of American Travel. Southern
Tour. The following year he edited and abridged a book en-
titled Recent Art and Society for Henry Holt and Company. This
was followed by Vers de Socidtd, a collection of light poetry
published in an elegant gift style by Holt, and Africa, an
edited compilation of travel accounts. He also did an abridge-
ment of the debates of Congress and edited a version of
Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson for Holt. Jones contributed
three biographies--Gladstone, Dickens, and Macaulay---to
Appleton's New Handy Volume Series, all of which were published
in 1880. None of these bODks were of great literary merit, but
they demonstrate Jones's tremendous capacity for work. There
was almost certainly a great deal more writing of this sort
done by Jones, but exact titles cannot be authenticated. Jones
was well aware that most of his writing was ephemeral. He once
wrote a friend, commenting on a particularly bad book done by
a reputable writer: "I can imagine a man doing such work under
spur of necessity and consequently without blame--with ample
excuse, in fact, for the public condemns the professional
literary man to frequent pot-boiling, and he must bow to his
fate."36 In a subsequent letter he added, "I am sorry for any
one who has to do hack literary work under compulsion of
Jones's appetite for work was perhaps his greatest asset,
but it was also a weakness for it led to chronic health prob-
lems due to nervousness and fatigue. In the spring of 1876
when he was writing both during the day and in the evening he
suffered what he described as a "nervous collapse" or an "acute
brain attack" which prostrated him for three days. He seems
to have regarded such illnesses as part of the price of living
the literary life, for he doused himself with patent medicine
and whiskey and resumed work. He confided to a friend that had
suffered similar attacks for the past four years, and speculated
that they were inevitable, "I should not be surprised if they
become periodical, in a sense, until the candle has flickered
Probably the best treatment for his constitution was his
annual summer vacation at Middlebury, Vermont, in the Green
Mountains overlooking Lake Champlain. There he and his wife
occupied their time in hiking, attending parties, and "petty
competitions of croquet." Among his companions was Julian W.
Abernethy, a thin, curly haired college student who would
shortly receive a doctorate from Yale and assume a life as a
professor of English.40 Abernethy became one of Jones's
closest friends for the remainder of his life.
Some idea of Jones's views on the social questions which
would later play a part in his career as a newspaper editor can
be seen in the reviews he wrote for the Eclectic. Politics had
little attraction for Jones at the time, and he devoted little
space in the Eclectic on reviews of political books. E. R.
Pelton, his publisher, later testified that Jones was "strictly
a literary man" during his years in New York.41 Jones shared
a feeling common among intellectuals that politics was a
sordid affair, and he echoed Peter Cooper's advice that good
people ought to "overthrow the despotism of parties and
politicians."42 Yet reason and reform in politics seemed a
remote possibility to Jones because the general public appeared
impervious to reason on the subject of politics.43 Later when
Jones was very much involved in politics he claimed, no doubt
truthfully, that he had always maintained sympathy with the
Democratic party. He did admit to voting for the Republican
candidate Grant in 1868 out of a feeling that a military man
would be magnanimous to the South, and he declared that in
local elections he was one of the "young scratchers" who
opposed Tammany's methods.** The most Jones ever claimed for
his political action in New York was that he had been an early
advocate of civil service reform and a worker for Samuel Tilden
in the election of 1876.45
The most popular philosophical and social writer of the
day was Herbert Spencer, of whom Jones was at first an
enthusiastic proponent, although he later toned down his
enthusiasm without abandoning Spencerian habits of thought.
His early attraction to Spencer was based on the belief that
Spencer was dealing in pure "fact."46 He retreated some from
his position in the face of criticism leveled at Spencer, yet
defended Spencer's system as "one of the grandest scientific
generalizations of our times." Jones thought that the
application of Darwinian analogies to the social condition of
mankind was realistic, and he even considered the inheritance of
political institutions a possibility. He saw man as a
creature motivated by passion; the mass of mankind being
"constitutionally superior to reason."49 He sometimes expressed
the view that "this boasted modern civilization is indeed but
a thin veneer covering a barbarism the more frightful and de-
basing because of its contrast with the surrounding aspects of
civilized life.n50 In such a world liberty, equality, and
fraternity were impossible, and probably not desirable.51
The Eclectic had little sympathy with the efforts of
reformers or trade unions to ameliorate the condition of the
masses, indeed Jones was not sure that efforts to reduce the
gap between the rich and the poor were worthwhile, even if
possible. Differences between classes were natural, thus any
reform aimed at social equality was bound to be "spurious and
artificial."52 The laws governing labor and capital precluded
any substantial altering of the relative positions of capitalist
and worker, and efforts by unions to overthrow these laws had
done much harm, indeed, they were a "menaceto society.n53
Jones advised workers to inform themselves of the realities of
economics and "end their suicidal and hopeless battering with
social laws."54 Industry, economy, and education were the
working man's best hope for self-improvement. Employers ought
to be enlightened and aware of the moral obligations inherent
in their positions, yet Jones feared that generosity could not
realistically be expected.55 In any case, charity ought to be
a consideration separate from business.56
As his youthful infatuation with Spencer began to wane,
Jones modified his view of the human situation, becoming more
concerned with the problems of the working classes. He main-
tained his Spencerian concept of society, but tempered it with
a gradualist, evolutionary allowance for change, He speculated
that the discontent of the masses under capitalism would pro-
duce a tension which would force a modification of the social
order, and repression would simply make the final change more
explosive. His hope was that capital and labor could find
shared interests on which to found a new stability.57
On economic questions Jones followed the line of laissez
faire orthodoxy set down by william Graham Sumner, This included
low taxes, complete freedom of contract, hostility to labor
unions, and also low tariffs.58 This last tenant of economic
Liberalism had particular appeal to Jones. He argued that the
protective system which had been adopted during the war should
be abandoned and would be abandoned when the agricultural
populace of the nation was correctly informed on the issue.59
On the currency question, the Eclectic held that circulation of
money was guided by natural laws, and that these laws could not
be override by efforts at creating fiat money. Paper money
was not real money, and gold coin was preferable to silver.60
As a Southerner, Jones was of the opinion that the primary
problem facing the government and people was that of reuniting
a nation divided by the Civil War. He lamented in 1868 that
the election was an occasion for stirring up the embers of
sectional "passions and animosities" which should be allowed
to die and would subside but for what he felt was their crass
exploitation by politicians.61 Horace Greely, the Democratic
candidate that year, received his praise for advocating
universal amnesty for former Confederates.62 Greeley's pro-
gram was in line with Jones's belief that the South ought to
be left alone to settle its own problems in its own way. While
the abolition of slavery was a good and necessary thing,
approved by both North and South, relations between the Negro
and his former master were something to be resolved without
outside interference. One of Jones's northern friends dubbed
him "an unreconstructed rebel" for holding such views.63
Jones's most complete and unified statement of his
assessment of the sectional problem appeared in his extended
review of Albion W. Tourgee's, A Fool's Errand, published in
1880 as an article in Appleton's Journal. Jones condemned the
book because he felt it was designed to revive sectional
animosities which were once real because they were based on
actual differences, accentuated by war, but which were no
longer real. A Fool's Errand, he felt, exaggerated the South's
hostility to "Northern" ideas, yet a person so closed-mindedly
self-righteous in his beliefs as the book's protagonist ought
to expect violent opposition. Problems of society are complex,
he argued, and no simple answers are sufficient for them;
therefore toleration of divergent opinions is necessary. If
the North had a more tolerant attitude at present, it had not
always.been so and was so now only because Northern society
contained no "offensive" group comparable to the Negro. A far
better basis for forming opinion on the question could be
gained from James S. Pike's The Prostrate State, a book which
Jones had given an extensive review in the Eclectic years before.
The unchangeable fact was, as Jones saw it, that the Negro
could rule in the South only by force of numbers, for wealth,
intelligence, and political experience were on the side of the
whites. Such books as A Fool's Errand could do little good,
and would perpetuate passions that could only hinder settlement
of "the most difficult and baffling problem that American
statesmen have to face."65
In 1880 Jones and Abernethy began collaboration on a
"gazetteer" of some sort which would incorporate the latest
census returns. This project dragged on for months and
developed into a much larger project than originally anticipated,
a development which distressed Jones since his contract with
the publisher did not compensate him for the extra work.66 A
book on George Eliot which Jones was working on at the same
time came to an "ignominious end" in February, 1881, when Jones
discovered that Roberts Brothers publishers of Boston, seven
years earlier, had copyrighted and published much of the
material he wished to use. Jones sold the "biographical memoir"
to Roberts Brothers, who incorporated it into a new edition of
the book which was published in 1882.67 Such things led Jones
to curse the problems of life as a "Grub Street" writer.68 He
wrote Abernethy, "I shall yet flee away to the remotest wilder-
ness of the West in order to escape these books, magazines,
The pressures of the literary work were not the only
discomforting aspect of life in New York. The weather during
the winter of 1880-1881 was very bad, and, in Jones's words,
"To go out of doors was literally to risk one's skin."70 Both
he and his wife were experiencing poor health.71 "I have been
in the habit of saying that I liked the Northern winters
better than the summers," Jones wrote in February, '%ut I shall
be cautious hereafter about expressing such an opinion."72
His spirits rose in the spring as he undertook a book on
which he would retain the copyright and which would be of
genuine worth, unlike the sort of work in which he had been
employed. The book was to be "an 'inside view' of the country's
history," and would deal with the great men and ideas which had
guided the nation. He wrote Abernethy telling him of his delight
in having full control over the book, but adding that he was
staggered by the "appalling amount of labor" which lay before
him.73 Despite his enthusiasm for it, the book was never
completed, although Jones kept it in mind for the rest of his
life and still planned to write it at the time of his death.
NOTES TO CKAIPTER I
1Charles H. Jones, "Autobiography" (unpublished
autobiographical fragment, Charles H. Jones Papers). The Jones
Papers--letters, notebooks, photographs, manuscript drafts of
party platforms, and newspaper clippinge--are owned by Jones's
granddaughter Mrs, Carl G. Freeman, Bat Cave, North Carolina.
Xerox copies are in the P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History,
University of Florida, Gainesville. The collection will herein-
after be referred to as JP; those things not in the Yonge
Library will be noted "original."
2Rowland H. Rerick, Memoirs of Florida, 2 vols. (Atlanta,
1902), II, 578.
3Jones, "Autobiography," 12.
8Ibid., 25; Oscar S. Stratus, Under Four Administrations
(Boston, 1922), 4.
Jones, "Autobiography," 40.
11Straus, Four Administrations, 15.
12Jacksonville Florida Times-Union, December 27, 1964;
clipping, Springfield Sunday Union and Republican, November 17,
1929; interview with Mrs. Carl G. Freeman, Bat Cave, North
Carolina, September 17, 1972.
13Jones, "Autobiography," 56; Jacksonville Florida Times-
Ugaggy, February 9, 1888.
14Jones, "Autobiography," 38.
15Jacksonville Florida Daily Times, November 29, 1881;
Charles H. Jones, "Sketch of Life---1895"(unpublished autobiographical
NOTES TO CHAPTER I (continued)
Interview with Mrs. Carl G. Freeman.
Jacksonville Florida Times-Union, July 2, 1886; Jones,
"Sketch of Life."
18Charles H. Jones, passport, number 26498, issued
February 18, 1907, original, JP.
19Charles H. Jones, photograph, ca. 1886, original, JP.
20Jones, "Sketch of Life."
22Frank Luther Hott, A History of American Magazines,
1865-1885, 5 vols. (Cambridge, 1938), III, 46.
23[Charles H. Jones], "Chicago," Land We Love, V (OctDber,
24Charles H. Jones, "St. Louis, Missouri," Ibid., VI
(December, 1868), 126-134.
26Jones, "Sketch of Life."
27rbid.; Mott, American Magazines, III, 319.
28Mott, American Magazines, III, 256.
29"Walter Hilliard Bidwell" (obit.), Eclectic, XXXIV
(November, 1881), 720.
30"Edward Richmond Pelton" (obit.), Eclectic Magazine and
Monthly Edition of the Living Age, series 3, I (January-June,
1899), bound in front of volume.
31Samuel C. Chew, ed., Fruit Among the Leaves (New York,
1950), 23-24; Mott, American Magazines, III, 90, 417-420.
32Jones to Julian W. Abernethy, May 26, 1889; Jones to
Dora Jones, November 1, 1908, original, JP.
Charles H. Jones, photograph, 1871, original, JP.
34Entry for Eliza Cowperwaite, "Geneological Record," JP,
36Jones to Abernethy, December 9, 1878. JP.
ROTES TO CHAPTER I (continued)
371bid., December 30, 1878, JP.
38Ibid., October 20, 1876; February 18, 1877, JP.
39Ibid., December 9, 1878, JP.
40Julian W. Abernethy (1853-1923) was a native of
Burlington, Vermont. He was professor of literature at Adelphi
Academy and principal of Berkeley Institute in Brooklyn. His
extensive library and collection of American first editions
was given to Niddlebury College, Vermont, on his death, New
York Times, July 4, 1923.
41Jacksonville FloridA Times-Union, November 10, 1887.
42Eclectic, XVII (May, 1873), 635.
43Eclectic, X (September, 1869), 369.
"Jacksonville Florida Times-Union, July 22, August 2, 1884.
45Ibid., December 15, 1885; August 21, 1887.
46Eclectic, XIX (June, 1874), 758.
47Ibid., XXII (July, 1875), 121.
Ibid., XVII (February, 1873), 248.
49Ibid., VIII (November, 1868), 1415.
50Ibid., XVII 0Karch, 1873), 372.
51Ibid., XVIII (July, 1873), 121.
52Ibid., XIII (May, 1871), 633.
53Ibid., XXI (March, 1875), 378.
54Ibid., XVII CRay, 1873), 634.
55Ibid., XXIV (December, 1876), 763; XIII OKay, 1871), 633.
56Ibid., XXVI (November, 1877), 637.
57Ibid., XXXI (June, 1880), 763; XXXIV (July, 1881), 138.
58Tbid., X (December, 1869), 759.
59Ibid., XXVI (October, 1877), 509.
60Ibid., XXIII (January, 1876), 121; XXIII (February,
NOTES TO CHAPTER I (continued)
61Ibid., VIII (November, 1868), 1413.
62Ibid., XI (April, 1870), 497.
63Jacksonville Florida Times-Union, August 21, 1887.
64Eclectic, XIX (February, 1874), 247.
65charles H. Jones, "Sectional Fiction," Appleton's
Journal, IX (December, 1880), 564.
66Jones to Abernethy, April 6, 1881, JP.
67Ibid., February 7, 1881; Wit and Hisdom of George Eliot
with a Biographical Memoir (Boston, 1882),
68Jones to Abernethy, April 6, 1881, JP.
69Ibid., December 6, 1880, JP.
70Ibid., February 7, 1881. JP*
71Ibid., November 24, December 6, 1880, JP.
72Ibid., February 7, 1881, JP.
73Ibid., March 14, 25, April 6, 1881. JP.
FROM LITERARY GENTLEMAN TO NEWSPAPER EDITOR
Sometime in the winter of 1880-1881 Appleton received a
manuscript of a travel book on Florida from George M. Barbour,
a Chicago newspaperman who had been living in that state for
the past year. The manuscript was turned over to Jones, who
wrote a letter to Reverend Mr. T. W. Moore of Fruit Cove,
Florida, inquiring about some points in Barbour's work. Moore
had written a book Treatise and Handbook on Orange Culture in
Florida which had been published by Pelton. In his reply to
JonesMoore objected to some things Barbour had said, and
Jones decided to go to Florida to see for himself and gather
more material to supplement Barbour's document for publication
as a full-scale book by Appleton.1
On May 25, 1881, Jones wrote Abernethy telling him of his
pending journey to Florida. Primarily it would be a business
trip, but he hoped to enjoy a restful sea voyage to and from
Florida, recuperating from his editorial labors in New York.
The prospect of a mid-summer visit in the semi-tropics,
however, seemed much less pleasant. Collecting materials for
the Barbour book would be the immediate purpose of the visit,
but Jones appended a cryptic message to his letter: "I have a
special object in mind when I say to you, save every dollar
Jones may have been considering purchase of a newspaper
in Florida at the time, but he also wanted his friend to join
him in a venture in citrus growing. During the summer, he,
Abernethy, and another northern friend combined to buy some
acreage in Orange County from John G. Sinclair, a New Hampshire
immigrant who did business in real estate and had plans for
establishing a plant for processing starch from cassava.3
Perhaps Jones was influenced in his decision to enter the field
of citrus growing by the claims of "fabulous" profits to be
made in oranges with only a modicum of effort, as described in
Moore's Treatise. Reality proved somewhat different than
Moore had pictured it, and Jones's investment never resulted
in any citrus production, although he continued to hold the
land until 1884.5
Jones arrived in Jacksonville, Florida, during the first
week in June. He set Moore and traveled with him looking at
the state and gathering materials for the Barbour book.6 But
he also talked to several individuals in Jacksonville about the
possibility of purchasing the Daily Florida Union, a journal
which had been established during the Civil War and was now
edited by Hugh B. McCallum, a man slowly dying of consumption.
Barbour had initiated negotiations for purchase of the paper
earlier, and had suggested that Jones resume conversations with
McCallum.? Jones talked to the Union's editor about the pro-
posal, and, according to Jones, it was agreed that McCallus
would discuss the matter with friends and set a price. When
Jones ventured that if the price were too high he would prefer
to start a new paper rather than purchase the Union, McCallum
took the statement as a threat and vowed that he would fight
to defend the Union field.
Jones returned to New York at the end of the month,
without having reached a decision on purchase of the paper,
but he was interested in going forward with plans to take it.
"When you come down, bring every dollar you can scrape together,"
he wrote Abernethy, promising to explain everything when they
met in New York.9 He also wrote his brother George, who he
hoped would join him in Florida, and received an encouraging
reply.10 Early in September he returned to Florida, after
being delayed at sea by storms off the Carolina coasts. Back
in Jacksonville Jones made some discoveries that convinced him
that he did not want the Union regardless of its sale price.11
A check of the county clerk's office by Barbour revealed that
the Union was heavily mortgaged, so Barbour was sent to tell
McCallum that if he and Jones entered the field it would be
with a new publication.12 Jones made an appointment to see
Assistant Commissioner of Immigration Samuel Fairbanks, and
in his office, Jones, Fairbanks, and former Republican Governor
Harrison Reed, who lived near Jacksonville, discussed the
possibilities of beginning a new paper. Reed's description of
the fractured state of Florida's Republican party convinced
Jones that a Republican paper could not survive, but an
independent-Democratic paper might attract support from both
Returning to New York early in October, Jones hurried
preparations for establishing a second Jacksonville daily
newspaper. He ordered a press and materials for the paper
from New York firms, had Barbour make preparations in
Jacksonville, and arranged to rent his New York home during
his absence.14 In spite of the confusion, Jones invited
Abernethy to visit him in New York and congratulated him on
securing a position on the faculty of Adelphi Academy.
Abernethy's coming to Adelphi was a great achievement, Jones
felt, "I wish the wisdom of my own step were as little open
to doubt."15 Leaving his wife in New York and admonishing
Abernethy to call on her, Jones departed again for Florida.16
November storms made the passage rough and kept him constantly
seasick during nest of the voyage.
Work on setting up the newspaper's plant and offices had
hardly begun when Jones arrived in Jacksonville, where he
immediately busied himself "evolving order out of the wildest
confusion."17 Despite the disorder, Jones found his enterprise
warmly encouraged by local people, and his attitude became
more confident.18 Delays caused by oversights in ordering of
materials or in their shipment set back the date for publication
at least a week and increased his anxiety. Not enough type had
been orderedgalley racks were ordered but not received, and an
essential part of the press could not be located. The delay cost
about $200, Jones estimated, but he confided to Abernethy that
the ultimate success of the paper was as sure as anything could
be.19 During the final push to get out the first edition, Jones
remained in the newspaper offices almost all the time,
emerging only briefly to eat and sleep.20
The newspaper's offices were located above Hughes' [sic.]
Drug Store on Bay Street at the Ocean Street intersection.
Jones provided himself with a handsomely furnished office that
impressed one resident Florida newspaperman as "the neatest
and best-appointed private sanctum in the South."21 The
paper would be printed on a hand powered Campbell press
designed for country newspapers. Jones and Barbour were
named in the prospectus as the paper's proprietore--Jones
providing the literary talent and Barbour the experience of
ten years' work with western newspapers. Jones would be editor
with responsibility for handling the Associated Press dispatches,
and Barbour would edit state and local news.22 Fred W. Hoyt,
a local man with experience on several Jacksonville and
Fernandina newspapers, was managing editor.23 The paper was
to be published daily, except Monday, an omission necessitated
by Jacksonville's ordinance against working on the sabbath.
The subscription rate of $10.00 per year, "strictly in advance,"
was .the same as the Union's.24
The first edition of the Florida Daily Times appeared on
November 29, 1881. It had four pages of eight columns each,
with only two front page columns devoted to advertisements.
The telegraphic dispatches which appeared on the front page
were short, and most dealt with crime, violence, or natural
disasters. About half the paper's space was given over to
advertisements, suggesting that patronage was not a problem,
although some questioned whether Jacksonville could support two
daily newspapers.25 Many of the local "news" stories were
covert advertisements designed to promote Florida, a hotel, a
steamship line, or a store. The Times claimed that it had more
advertisements than it could publish.26 Most telegraphic dis-
patches were short to save wire charges. Langer stories
usually concerned some matter of lasting importance since they
had to be sent by mail, The Guiteau trial was providing this
sort of material at the time. Moore's Orange Culture, Barbour's
Florida for Tourists, Invalids and settlers, and several of
Pelton's medical books were advertised prominently. The over-
all tone of the paper was light, full of "chit-chat," with a
flippant attitude toward politics and politicians. Editorials
dominated the second page--still the core of the newspaper--and
the expected "Farm, Garden, Household" column shared page three
with seven columns of advertisements.
After a week of publication Jones could write Abernethy
that the success of the paper, despite some expected difficulties,
was "unequivocal." The Times's new type and uncluttered format
made it, Jones declared, "the neatest paper south of Philadelphia,"
Moreover, the paper was inundated with demands for advertising
space to an extent that amazed Jones.27 Abernethy wrote to
give the paper his approval, and Jones replied that it was
improving with every issue, while circulation was steadily
expanding. The success of the paper was beyond doubt, he
averred, but with success went the responsibility for getting
out the paper on schedule every day without relent. "The
curse of Sisyphus is upon me," lamented Jones.28
One of the first things Jones had done on arriving in
Florida was to write Abernethy asking him to arrange with a
friend at the Springfield (Massachusetts) Republican for an
exchange. Jones thought the Raygg LLyyaywould want the Times
for news of Florida, and he believed that it was the one paper
he must have.29 His ambition was to model his paper after the
Republican, making it known for quality and editorial content,
even though small in circulation and located in a remote corner
of the republic.30 Jones watched for quotations from his
paper in the northern press and brought such notices to the
attention of the Times's readers.31 In his first editorial,
Jones outlined a policy of independent journalism which sup-
posedly would guide the policy of the paper. The Times would
be independent of political parties, not out of a spirit of
hostility, but in order to remain free of any obligations
except those owed its general readership. Thus members of both
parties could freely patronize the newspaper.32 After a year of
publication, Jones would write that many people were "watching
with interest the experiment of publishing an outspoken, fear-
less, and independent newspaper" in a section of the country
where, he said, the press had seldom dared stand on principle.
In the first issue of the Times Jones went on to say that,
contrary to the prevailing attitude, editorial comment was not
the primary function of a newspaper. Increasingly it was the
trend for newspapers to subordinate comment on the news to
printing of the news itself. At the same time, the concept of
news was changing to include more than just politics: any
area of human endeavor was the proper sphere of the journalist.
The sciences, literature, and art should receive attention,
and it should all be done in a style which would entertain as
well as enlighten the reader.34 Jones tried to practice the
philosophy he proclaimed. He induced Oliver Bell Bunce to do
a series of light essays on New York society for the Sunday
Times during the 1881-1882 season. On Sunday the usual
political editorials were supplanted by long essays on authors
or some aspect of literature. Jones also attempted to turn
the farm and garden column into a real vehicle for dispensing
information of use to agriculturalists in Florida's unique
climate. He solicited contributions from experts in various
departments of agriculture, and opened the column with a
series of articles by T. W. Moore.
Tariff reform and civil service reform constituted the
focal point of the Times's editorial stance on national politics,
and Jones continued to argue, as he had with the Eclectic, that
sectionalism and the emotional questions remaining from the
Civil War era were no longer real issues; they were sham issues
employed by politicians to avoid coming to grips with living
problems.35 The Times endorsed a tariff for revenue only,
arguing that the surplus was dangerous, taxes were too high,
government spending was too extravagant, and high prices
caused by the tariff actually retarded industrialization in the
South.36 During the fall election campaign of 1882 the Times
ran a series of essays designed to educate the public on the
fundamentals of the tariff question. In taking a low tariff
stance the Times was being closer to traditional Democratic
lines than were the New South protectionists, such as Henry
Grady of the Atlanta Constitution. Civil service reform,
Jones argued, should be of particular interest to the South
since it was there that the worst abuses. of the patronage
system had occurred.37 From the start, the Times endorsed
Pendleton's proposal for a merit system.38
In local affairs, the Times crusaded to make the city of
Jacksonville more attractive, and therefore more pleasing to
resort vacationers who expected plush surroundings. Some
changes, the Times suggested, could be made easily enough by
the people themselves. They could stop emptying their slop
buckets in the gutters, clean up the rubbish on the streets,
and sweep their sidewalks and keep them in good repair.
Another more challenging undertaking would be the construction
of shell roads along the riverfront so that winter guests
could enjoy the view and the fresh air. But the improvement
that Jones probably wished to see most was the paying of Bay
Street. Running parallel to the river one block inland, Bay
Street was the heart of the town's business district. Its
surface was a mixture of sand, sawdust, and horse manure, and
after every heavy rain it became a foul smelling series of mud
flats and ponds perfectly meriting its name. Jones pledged the
Times's support to any project for paying the street and
volunteered twenty-five dollars toward the enterprise.39
Before the end of 1881 the Times was claiming that it had
enough paid circulation to run at a profit, even though no
systematic canvass of the state had yet been made.40 9
January, 1882, it was claimed that issues of the Times were
being published in volumes matching the largest ever produced
in Florida, and on March 17, 1882, the Times published an out-
sized edition featuring a front page interview with Governor
William D. Blaxham taken from the New Orleans Times-Democrat.
The Times claimed that 5,000 copies of this edition were
printed, and that the press had run from midnight until two
o'clock the next afternoon in getting it out.41 By this time
Jones declared that the Times had as large a circulation as
any newspaper in Florida, that it had no debts, and that it
was making money at a rate which had enabled him to regain
one-quarter of his original investment.42 That the Times was
making money is virtually certain, and it also seems likely
that it was debt free. No records have been found detailing
the finances of the paper, but Jones later claimed that he had
financed the newspaper himself, using $16,000 saved from his
literary work.43 It appears unlikely that Abernethy or anyone
else had an interest in the newspaper.
Mrs. Jones and Dora arrived in Florida just in time for
the festivities of the winter season and were delighted by the
receptions and parties which highlighted Jacksonville's
brightest time of the year. Jones wrote Abernethy that
Mrs. Jones had proven to be "quite a belle."" However, her
life in Jacksonville would be quiet by comparison to that of
her husband. She seems to have involved herself with work in
the Episcopal Church and to have enjoyed an unobtrusive
association with a wide circle of friends.45 She and Dora
were frequently out of the city during the summers vacationing
in the North.
Having passed the crisis of establishment, Jones set out
to boom the Times as the state's coming newspaper. Every day
there were reports of the paper's increasing success: the
Times was sold out early at the hotels, newspapers in other
states were clamoring for exchanges with the Times, extra news-
print had to be purchased because of the unexpected demand. 7
The public was reminded that the Times was not a local paper,
but a journal for all the state. A morning train carried the
Times to subscribers in Fernandina/ Efforts were made to
secure regular correspondents in all sections of the state,
and canvassers were sent out to seek advertisements and sub-
scribers. Barbour went to South Florida in December and to
Middle Florida in January; others went up the St. Johns calling
at all the port stops. 9 Of course, there was the problem
common to all newspapers of the solicitor who absconded with
subscription money.50 Jones even announced the opening of a
New York office of the Times. It was at 25 Bond Street,
Pelton's address, and whether or not the Times got many
subscriptions there, the mere fact of a New York office looked
impressive.51 Another means of attracting subscribers was the
offer of a free copy of Florida for Tourists, Invalids, and
Settlers to those who agreed to take the paper for a half year
The Times's relations with the Union were, at least on
the surface, friendly. On the advice of former Governor Reed,
Jones had written a letter to McCallum when he returned to
Florida, attempting to promote good will. McCallum wrote a
cold reply, but Jones went to the Union office and met with
McCallum and the staff.53 A brief feud broke out in December
when the Union published a complaint that Barbour had spread
a rumor in South Florida that the owners of the Times held a
mortgage on the Union which they intended to foreclose and
that Jones, as agent for the Associated Press, had obtained a
monopoly of the dispatches, sharing them with the Union only
out of kindness. Jones denied any part in spreading such
rumors, and Barbour published a denial under his name, but he
still maintained that the Union was, in fact, mortgaged.54
When the Union took issue with his denial, Barbour repeated
that he had not tried to spread misconceptions about the AT
dispatches, and he declared that within the past few days he
had been shown another mortgage covering nearly everything
owned by the Union.55 Jones closed the incident with a plea
for professional comity among editors; equating newspaper
disputes with cock fighting--amusing to the public but uselessly
On February 10 Jones made the unexpected announcement
that Barbour had ceased to be an "employee" of the Times, and
that, contrary to popular impression, he had never owned any
interest in the newspaper. Jones said that Barbour had
promised to finance the paper jointly with him, but had failed
to do so. Meanwhile he had borrowed money to pay for everything
from car fare to his laundry bills. On January 9 Jones had
made a new contract with Barbour under which he was supposed
to collect subscriptions and advertisements, but instead he
had worked "treacherously and insidiously" against the interests
of the paper.57 Later Jones would charge that Barbour had
allied himself to the Union and was telling potential patrons
of the Times that the paper was secretly Republican in sympathy.58
The day after the announcement of Barbour's severance from the
Times, Jones revealed that he had done much of the writing of
Florida for Tourists, Invalids, and Settlers, hoping to nullify
the benefit Barbour gained from his reputation as the book's
On the day that Jones announced Barbour's departure, the
Times office was visited by Eamuel H. Small, a writer for the
Atlanta Constitution who was in Jacksonville looking for a
cottage where he and his invalid wife might spend the winter.60
At the time, McCallum of the Union was confined to his home by
illness, while business manager Harrison Clark and chief editorial
writer John Temple Graves ran the daily affairs of the news-
paper.61 About the beginning of March, Small became a proprietor
of the Union, but within a month he had gone over to the Times,
purchasing an interest of that paper. Jones wrote a long
announcement of Small's coming to the Times, and changed the
paper's listed ownership to "Jones and Small.n62 Behind the
scenes an effort was being made to merge the two papers, but
the nature of that effort was soon to become a matter of
controversy. The Union charged that Jones and Small had been
working together in a conspiracy to ease McCallum out of con-
trol of the Union and to merge the two papers. As evidence,
a letter from Jones to Small was produced in which Jones wrote
about the conditions of a merger and the policy to be followed
until merger. McCallum was not mentioned in the letter. 63
Jones told a different story. He said that shortly after
the beginning of the Times he had been approached by McCallum's
friends with proposals for a merger, but no progress had been
made at the time. Small's appearance on the scene revived
interest in a merger. Jones had begun negotiations with Small
while Small was with the Union, and he wrote Abernethy on
March 5 announcing plans for a "grand combination," but en-
joining him to keep quiet for the moment.64 After the dispute
broke into the open, Jones claimed that Small and friends of
McCallum had told him that Small, backed by others, controlled
the Union. As it turned out, this was not true. For his part,
Small denied the charges of collusion with Jones and explained
that he had re-sold his interest in the Union to McCallum.65
Small remained at the Times, becoming night editor when
Charles A. Choate resigned to return to his farm near
Tallahassee.66 However, Jones soon found that Small was not the
asset to the paper he had expected. "Small, on whom I counted
so confidently, turned out to be the most consummate scoundrel
that it was ever my lot to be brought in contact with," Jones
wrote Abernethy. "He was drunk four fifths Isic] of the time
(never really sober), a spendthrift, a gambler, and a bully.
In his drunken wrath one night when we were alone in the office
he drew a revolver on me to enforce a claim which (he] pretended
to have."67 On April 12, 1882, Small's name was taken down from
the masthead, and four days later Jones announced that he had re-
acquired Small's interest in the paper, On the previous day a
suit which Small had brought against Jones was withdrawn from
circuit court.68 Jones told Abernethy that he had paid Small
'11ackmail to the tune of $250" in order to be rid of him. The
strain of running the newspaper and fighting a lawsuit with
Small had proven too much for him. "He had counted upon this
with devilish malignity," Jones explained.69
Whether Jones had, in fact, attempted to use Small to
gain control of the Union cannot be determined from existing
evidence. However, there seems to be little doubt that Small
was the rascal that Jones had described. John Varnum, who was
city editor of the Times during the dispute, would later
characterize Small as a "little fraud,"70 Small returned to
Georgia where he failed in a newspaper venture of his own. He
was then "converted" by revivalist Sam Jones and spent the
following years as a traveling evangelist, often appearing
with Sam Jones, before returning to his first vocation as a
writer for the Atlanta Constitution. Jones maintained that
both he and McCallum had been taken in by Small, and he pro-
fessed to be deeply hurt by the Union's attempt to cast him as
a sneak. "Not being of that temperament that enables a man to
remain calm and complacent under calumny and vituperation,"
Jones declared, "I resolved deliberately at the time of that
first attempt to make the Chion [sic] sorry for it and all sub-
After the Small affair Jones considered returning North.
Directing the affairs of a daily newspaper was a great strain
even under normal conditions. In February he had written
Abernethy, "I am on the treadmill all the time, and though
there is a wonderful fascination about it, I am about worn
out."72 By April he felt that he was verging on physical
collapse.73 Jones decided to sell the Times if he could find
a buyer, and sent his attorney to see McCallum and other
potential purchasers. McCallum declined to buy at Jones's
price, and may not have had the money to do so anyway. No
other purchaser being available, Jones, perhaps encouraged by
the support he received when word leaked out that he was
planning to leave, decided to keep his paper.
Part of Jones's problem from the start had been his
failure to secure competent, steady staff members.75 Hoyt and
Choate had done good work in establishing the paper, but now
both had left the Times. Jones set about reorganizing his
staff. His brother George and his city editor John Varnum,
who had both been with the paper from its inception, were
brought into partnership with him by selling them a little
less than half interest. Varnum had come to Florida during
Reconstruction when his father was a general in command of
federal troops stationed at Pensacola. He had tried orange
growing, was once a deputy United States marshall, and had
come to Jacksonville to practice law with Edward M. Cheney,
a former owner of the Union.77 After the establishment of
Jones, Varnum and Company, Jones was still one man short
because of Small's ouster. This difficulty was resolved in
June when Judge A. O. Wright of Pensacola was made city editor.
Varnum moved up to the position of managing editor with
general supervisory duties.78 when John Ransom, the paper's
Washington correspondent, came into the office as news editor
in December, the Times organization was complete and relatively
During the spring and summer Jones quarreled with the
Union and the city council over the method of awarding the
contract for printing city tax lists. He charged that the
chairman of the printing committee had given the contract to
his rival even though his own paper had sent in a bid only
one-tenth that of the Union.80 The Times blasted this as
"collusion, back-stairs methods, and betrayal of public
interests."81 At first the council decided to ignore the
action of the chairman of the printing committee and awarded
the contract to Jones. Having secured the city printing, Jones
proclaimed the Times "Official Paper of the City," but promised
that all profits from the contract above printing costs would
be donated to the public library to show that he had been
motivated only by a sense of fair play.82 Jones also asked
for competitive bidding on all future contracts.83 On May 17
the Union, which had printed the tax lists under authorization
of the printing committee chairman, presented a bill to the
council for $451.34, and the Times requested $46.66 for the
same work. When the council voted to pay the Union and took
no stand regarding bidding on future contracts, managing editor
Varnum ridiculed the decision and city attorney John Hartridge's
argument supported the decision.85
This sort of personal attack was an invitation to
retaliation, and Varnum was warned that he would be assaulted.
On July 1, as he was returning to the Times office from dinner,
he was confronted by Hartridge in front of a Bay Street store
and was hit in the face. After a scuffle Hartridge called off
the fight, proclaiming to the crowd which had gathered that he
had whipped his -defamer. The next day the Times ran a blow-by-
blow account of the episode and editorially decried the fact
that such ruffianism was tolerated by the law. Writing
privately to Abernethy, Jones said that Hartridge was one of
the "turbulent young bloods" who had been running the town.
Jones claimed that the assault on Varnum was intended to
intimidate the Tings, but, he wrote, they "didn't scare worth
a cent and served him up next morning in a style that probably
made his hair stand on end." Jones believed that Hartridge and
his friends were "cured" for the time being, but he confessed
that he seldom went on the streets without fear of being
assaulted.87 Hartridge was found guilty in the mayor's court
of disorderly conduct and was fined $5.00,88 The question of
city printing was resolved in October, when the Times outbid
the Union for the contract, and, once again, Jones titled his
journal the "Official Paper of the City."89
The city election passed quietly in the spring of 1882.
The Times did not give direct endorsement to either slate of
candidates, but it was clearly biased toward the predominantly
Democratic "Conservative" ticket. The "Citizens" slate was
backed by the Republicans, who the Times characterized as
largely propertyless Negroes. The Republican convention was
ridiculed in a long story, complete with Negro dialect.90
Morris A. Dzialynski, the "Conservative" candidate for mayor,
defeated former Mayor J. Ramsey Dey. The Times considered this
a victory for sound, businesslike government, but expressed
doubts about the quality of the board of aldermen elected since
they represented the class of party workers to which Hartridge
In April the steamboat City of Sanford burned on the
St. Johns above Jacksonville. Jones sent an artist to sketch
the wreckage, then scoured Jacksonville trying to find an
engraver who could produce a woodcut. The crude, small result
of this effort, the Times's first attempt at an original
illustration, was run on the front page with a story of the
accident. A second, larger illustration, probably done by a
Savannah engraver, carried several days later, was hardly
better. The Times was forced to admit that the engravings had
been badly handled, but it congratulated itself on what it
called one of the most lively feats of journalism ever
attempted in Florida.92 However, the attempt was not repeated.
Illustrations, other than cuts running with advertisements,
were scarce in the ]gges, although occasionally some small,
high quality portraits would accompany a feature story on an
author or other notable.93 Illustrations were equally rare
in the Union, but it did gain notice in January, 1882, by
running several front page pictures of various personalities
involved in the Guiteau trial.
The Times strengthened its reputation for controversial
editorializing by its handling of an incident which occurred
in May. A passenger on the Fernandina and Jacksonville Rail-
road was hit in the head and seriously injured following an
argument with a railroad employee named Bailey Smith. The
Times not only denounced the crime, but criticized Mayor
Dzialynski for signing Smith's bail bond and suggested that
city officials were trying to hush-up the matter in order to
protect the town's reputation.95 When two friends of Smith
came to Jacksonville in the avowed intent of punishing Jones
and Varnum, the Times declared that it would not be intimidated.
The question at issue, it maintained, was whether the tone of
the Jacksonville community would be set by the Baily Smith
types and the "bloods" or by the town's better citizens,96
One day it was rumored that the Times offices would be attacked
that night, and some police were sent to patrol Bay Street in
the vicinity of the office, while others watched Jones and
Varnum's homes. Jones left the Times offices at two in the
morning accompanied by the chief of police, and the night
passed without incident. Jones later wrote Abernethy that the
town had been "in a tempest of excitement. . They have
never had a paper before that would speak out fearlessly upon
such matters, and you would be amazed at the excitement it
aroused. If the violence had been attempted there would un-
questionably have been a lynching."97 Jones felt that he had
won the support of the community's leading citizens in the
As the summer "dull season" set in, Jones wrote a
retrospective letter to Abernethy enumerating the successes of
the past six months. The paper had been established on a
sound footing and had successfully passed through the trauma
of getting started. He felt that the Times had the support of
the "best citizens" and it was having an uplifting effect on
the moral climate of the community. He was pleased to see
his editorials were quoted in the northern press as frequently
as any other southern editor. And finally, there was no longer
a possibility of losing money in the venture, and he could
leave at any time without loss. His original outlay had been
covered by profits and by the sale of a substantial interest
to Varnum and his brother. He expected that the paper would
lose money by continuing publication during the summer, but
he anticipated that the next winter season would bring a clear
profit of $5,00098 It is possible that the summer season did
not turn out as badly as Jones had expected, for a month after
his letter to Abernethy he claimed that circulation had
declined only slightly and wrote that plans were underway to
buy a new press and begin publication of a weekly.99
Dn August 24 Jones embarked on the steamer Western Texas
for a trip to New York which he had been planning since April.
Pressures of work and the Small affair forced him to postpone
the trip, however, and shorten it from the two months he
originally contemplated to two weeks.100 Although he hoped
to visit with Abernethy while in New York, the main purpose
of the trip would be to purchase material for a weekly edition
of the Times which he hoped to start in September.101 While
in the North he would also arrange for better news service and
secure more "specials" for the coming season.102
NOTES TO CHAPTER II
Jacksonville Florida Di Times-nn, Julybe 3, 1887.
2Jones to AbernethyMy2, June 39 1881, JP.
31Jacksonville Florida Daily Times, Ncoveber 29, 1881.
JackonvlleFlorida al TimesUno,Juy3187
ROTES TO CHAPTER II (continued)
21Tallahassee Weekly Floridian, January 10, 1882.
22Jacksonville Florida _Daily Times, November 29, 1881.
231bid., January 14, 1882.
24Ibid., November 29, 1881,
25Savannah Morning News, December 2, 1881.
26Jacksonville Florida Daily Times, November 29, 1881,
27Jones to Abernethy, Decerber 4, 1881. JP*
28Ibid., December 11, 1881, JP.
29Jones to Abernethy, November 7, 1881, JP.
30Jacksonville Florida Daily Times, October 24 1882.
32Ibid., November 29, 1881.
33Ibid., October 22, 1882.
341bid., November 29, 1881.
35Ibid., December 12, 1881; June 27, 1882.
36Ibid., December 12, 1881; June 27, November 23, 1882.
37Ibid., November 23, 1882.
381bid., December 20, 1881.
39Ibid., December 4, 1881; January 4, February 12,
September 3, 1882.
40Ibid., December 29, 1881.
Allbid., January 27, March 18, 1882.
421bid., March 16, 1882.
43Jones, "Sketch of Life."
Jones to Abernethy, February 11, 1882, JP.
45St. Louis Republic, December 15, 1888.
Jones to Abernethy, June 4, 1882, JP.
NOTES TO CHAPTER II (continued)
7Jacksonville Florida Daily ~Times, January 22, 1882.
48lFernandina Exrss March 25, 1882.
Jacksonville Florida Daily Times, January 17, 1882.
50Ibid.,ll March d 23, l 1882.erur 1,182
51Ibid., ll Janury d 1, il 1882.erur 1,182
52Ibid.,sse Januay 25, idan 1882. 0,182
53Ibid.,ll Octobrid 20, 1882.ach2 1,182
6bd.Januryl 1, 1882.
NOTES TO CHAPTER II (continued)
70Jacksonville News-Herald, October 12, 1887.
Jacksonville Florida Daily Times, October 20, 1882.
72Jones to Abernethy, February 11, 1882, JP.
73Ibid., April 30, 1882, JP.
74Jacksonville Florida Daily Times, October 20, 1882;
Jones to Abernethy, June 4, 1882, JP.
75Jones to Abernethy, December 11, 1881, JP.
76Ibid., April 30, 1882, JP.
??Jacksonville Florida Times-Union, December 27, 1964.
78Jacksonville Florida Daily Times, June 7, 1882.
79Ibid., November 28, December 2, 1882.
80Ibid., February 5, 1882.
81Ibid., February 8, 1882.
82Ibid., February 9, 1882.
83Ibid., March 22, May 17, 19, 1882.
Ibid., March 18, 1882.
85Ibid., June 6, 21, 22, 1882.
86Ibid., July 2, 1882.
87Jones to Abernethy, July 10, 1882, JP.
88Jacksonville Florida Daily Times, July 6, 1882.
89Ibid., October 10, 1882.
90Ibid., March 30, 1882.
91Ibid., March 31, April 1, 5, 1882.
92Jacksonville Florida Daily Times, April 25, 30, May 3,
93Ibid., February 19, 1882.
94Tallahassee Weekly Floridian, February 7, 1882.
NOTES TO CHAPTER II (continued)
95Jacksonville Florida Daily Times, May 27, 28, 1882.
96Ibid., May 30, 1882.
Jones to Abernethy, June 4, 1882, JP.
Jacksonville Florida Daily Times, July 2, 1882.
100Jones.to Abernethy, April 30, June 4, August 8, 1882, JP;
Jacksonville Florida Daily Times, August 25, 1882.
101The weekly Florida Times began publication in October,
1882. It sold for $1.00 per year and carried articles assembled
from the daily editions. It also contained special articles of
interest to farmers, since the weekly's readership was primarily
102Jacksonville Florida Daily Times, August 10, 1882.
On the day after Jones sailed for New York, two convicted
Negro murderers Charles Savage and Howard James were takeoff
a train in the Middle Florida town of Madison, east of
Tallahassee, and shot to death by a party of white men.1 The
Times, under Varnum's direction, condemned the crime, as did
virtually all the state's newspapers, but it went further and
demanded that the lynchers be brought to justice.2 Varnus
published an interview with several blacks who had come to
Jacksonville after the murders and claimed to have seen the
men who committed the crime. The story named names and gave
explicit details. Although the paper later accepted the denials
of those mentioned, Varnum continued to demand that a real
effort be made to bring the lynchers to trial.3 Jones sent a
signed editorial from New York saying that "indignation"
meetings and condemnatory editorials were pointless unless the
law was enforced, and he warned that settlers and northern
capital would be frightened away from the state if it became
established that the public tolerated such acts.4 Governor
Bloxham was requested to provide protection for witnesses
appearing at the trial.5 When witnesses to the lynchings
testified at a hearing that they saw only "strangers" in town
on the day of the murders, the Times remarked sarcastically:
"It seems that 'strangers' are such an attraction for the
people of Madison that not even a little disturbance like the
shooting down of a couple of prisoners can divert for one
moment the fixed concentration with which they are regarded."6
While the remainder of the state press was willing to
condemn the lynching, it reserved its harshest criticism for
the Times. The Tallahassee Floridian declared that the Times
had outdone even the worst Radical organs by trying to blacken
the character of a whole region for the crime of a few.? The
Tallahassee Land of Flowers accused the Times of attempting to
divert settlers away from Middle Florida to the benefit of East
Florida. The Pensacola Commerical said that Jones had no
sympathy for white people and that he was motivated by "pure,
selfish, grasping greed, allied with inborn hate and animosity
to the Southern people, developed under the hypocritical pre-
tence of obedience to law and love of peace and good order."9
The Times's answer to its critics was that if getting down to
particulars and trying to bring criminals to justice made
enemies for the paper among some people, it made friends among
others--and it sold newspapers.10
When Jones returned from his trip North, the fall
Congressional campaign was underway. Jones had hastened back
because he did not wish to leave the helm of the Times during
its first election. As an independent newspaper its course
would need careful charting. "We shall probably decide the
election," he told Abernethy, "but, on the other hand, any
blundering would wreck our enterprise, which has now become too
valuable to imperil."11 Jones's caution was justified, for
within weeks the Times would become a controversial point of
the campaign. Democratic partisans began to charge that Jones's
ostensibly independent newspaper was secretly the organ of the
Republican party and its candidate Horatio Bisbee.
The truth of this charge cannot be determined. Varnum
would later declare that Bisbee paid Jones "one thousand dollars,
lump amount" to promote his candidacy.12 But when Varnum made
the charge he had become a business competitor of Jones, and
thus his testimony is suspect. Clearly the Times gave more
space to Bisbee than to J. J. Finley, the Democratic nominee,
and it carried Republican advertisements on its editorial page
in a style that could easily have been taken as an endorsement,
while it ran few Democratic advertisements. But the absence of
Democratic material can be explained, and was explained by Jones
at the time, by the reluctance of Democrats to patronize the
Times. The Union and other Democratic newspapers made a con-
certed effort to discourage Democratic patronage of the Times.
The Gainesville Bee's remark was typical: "An open enemy--an
avowed Republican journal--may be respected, but a secret enemy
is to be dreaded and despised. The sooner the State press
forces the Times 'off the fence' the better for the Democracy;
or, if this can not be done, then let Democrats withdraw their
support from it, and let it seek it from a more congenial source--
the Republican party."l3
Whether by design or not, the Times's course worked to
promote Bisbee. In August Jones published a letter by
Alexander St. Clair-Abrams, founder of the town of Taveres and
a South Florida political leader, in which he charged that he
and other young men in the Democratic party had been thwarted
at the district Democratic convention by the "ring" control of
former Governor George F. Drew and his friends. St. Clair-
Abrams vowed to fight the "Drew ring" in future political
contests.14 While giving publicity to this division in the
Democratic ranks, the Times reported the Republican state con-
vention with fairness contrasting sharply with its biased
reporting of the local Republican convention during the spring
municipal election.15 However, the Times did attack Bisbee for
his high tariff views and on some other issues, and it did not
make any major criticism of Finley.16
The election itself did not arouse great excitement. In
fact, the general public seemed indifferent to the contest.
Later some Democrats were to blame the apathy of white voters
for Finley's defeatskice it was assumed that the Negores would
vote in every election, either because their votes were purchased
or because they had a special devotion to exercising their newly
won rights. The Times was inclined to agree that apathy had
played a part in the Democratic defeat, and said that the
Democratic press had lulled the voters into a false sense of
security by emphasizing Finley's supposed large majority in the
1880 race. But Jones was more willing to second St. Clair-Abrams's
explanation that many young Democrats had declined to support
The sweeping Democratic victories on the national level
were labeled "revolutionary." The election of Grover Cleveland
as governor of New York was of particular note, said the Times,
for it meant that he would be elected President in 1884. .0aus
on November 9, 1882, Jones staked his claim to being the first
editor in the United States to endorse Cleveland for the
The Times had apparently prospered during the election,
and made the boast afterwards that its edition carrying the
returns was the largest single issue ever sold by any Florida .
newspaper.19 The Union, however, was nearing collapse. During
the campaign McCallum had sent John Temple Graves and other
agents around with General Finley to attend his rallies and
solicit subscriptions. The Times noted this practice and sug-
gested that perhaps the Union had slipped so far that it must
beg for charity as the party organ.20 By the middle of October
Jones was charging that the Union could not pay the wages of
its employees and that it was selling its editorial columns to
the Florida Central and Western Railroad in order to raise
noney.21 Such charges were common in a time when newspapers
were expected to collapse frequently. In this case they were
certainly based on truth. The Union had been in financial
trouble for a long while, and competition from the Times was
pushing it to bankruptcy. In April the owners of the Union had
reorganized and incorporated as the Union Printing Company,
purchasing new type and equipment to upgrade the paper, but to
no avail.22 In December Jones wrote to Abernethy asking him for
an advance payment on Jones's Brooklyn home, which Abernethy was
purchasing, explaining that he was trying to put his hands on as
much money as possible since all signs pointed to the Eminent
collapse of the Union, and he wanted to be in a position to
step in when the crash came.23 Three weeks later he informed
Abernethy that the Union's demise had been "postponed."24
The contest between the two Jacksonville dailies was not
always confined to the printed page. The issue of the Times
which appeared on the streets on the morning of October 17 con-
tained a small item reporting that W. W. Douglass of the Union
staff had stopped a Times press boy and tried to get information
regarding the Times's circulation.25 Douglass read the story
that morning, determined that he had been insulted, and set off
to find Jones. He did not encounter him until that evening when
they met outside a Bay Street restaurant. Douglass attempted to
strike Jones with a cane, but tripped or was knocked to the
ground as Jones retreated into the street. After a few blows
were exchanged the men were separated by the crowd which had
spilled out of the restaurant to witness the fight. Jones pro-
ceeded to Varnum's house where he washed up, and then he went to
the Times office to write a description of the fight and editorial
condemning street violence.26 when Mayor Dzialynski fined
Douglass only $10.00 in his court, Jones criticized the leniency
of the punishment.27
Jones's efforts to reform Jacksonville society encompassed
a broader front than denunciation of rowdyism and unsafe sidewalks.
He wished to see the intellectual life of the community en-
riched, and he wanted to make Jacksonville's residents see their
town as more than just a riverboat station, when some suggested
that the proposed new city hall be built at the lowest possible
cost, Jones dissented, declaring that the most imposing structure
possible should be erected in order to set a high standard for
the rest of the community.28 The Times also supported an improved
public library, and Jones promised to try to get books for it
from northern publishers.29 Metropolitan Hall, Jacksonville's
"wretched excuse for a theatre" drew nothing but scorn from the
Times. It was an upper story room whose walls were plastered
with advertisements, where the audience sat on wooden benches.
Jones declared that a more plush and comfortable facility would
be needed to please tourists and to attract something better than
the banjo pickers and migrant troupes that now visited Metropolitan
Hall. An ardent theatre goer himself, Jones applauded when plans
were announced for leasing another local hall and converting it
into a theatre to be called the Opera House.30
Two days before Christmas the staff of the Times surprised
Jones in his office with the gift of a table lamp. He made a
little speech thanking his men and praising their spirit; then
cigars and mutual congratulations were passed around as the next
day's edition was set up.31 The new season was bringing
unprecedented prosperity to the Times, and within a month Jones
was claiming that his paper had a larger circulation than that
of any paper ever published in the state of Florida.32 4
there was any doubt of this claim, it vanished on January 28
when a brief editorial in the Times recorded the fact that Jones,
Varnum and Company had bought the Union and all its property.
The sale had taken place in the parlor of McCallum's home the
day before.33 There was no triumphant boasting, just a matter-
of-fact statement that the two papers would be merged, and a
new paper, the Florida Times-Union, would be published in the
old Union offices at 56-1/2 West Bay Street.34 That same day
Jones penned a letter to Abernethy informing him of the con-
solidation: "If I can hold the field against all competitors
for a year or two I shall have one of the most valuable news-
paper properties in the South. As it is we have won a great
victory."35 He added that this turn of events had removed his
last thoughts of returning to Brooklyn. Two days later he
requested that Abernethy make as large a payment on his house
as possible since he would need all the money he could get for
some time to come.36 During the next two weeks Jones did little
else but labor on newspaper business. One of his most important
accomplishments was the securing of an exclusive franchise for
the Associated Press dispatches in East Florida. No other
newspaper in the region could obtain the dispatches without the
consent of the Times-Union, thus giving its owners a security
which would justify outlays of large sums of moneyin improving
the paper which might not have been profitable in a competitive
The first issue of the Florida Times-Union appeared on
February 4. Its circulation was less than the combined
circulation of the Times and the Union since some subscribers
had taken both, but the paper's readership was three times that
of the previous year.
The new paper was printed on the Union's water-driven
press, and the Times's Campbell press was moved into the job
office. Since the Union's old press was hardly capable of
handling the paper's increased volume, plans were made for
procuring a new press from the Hoe Company of New York.38
Many of the Union's employees were hired by the new paper,
including M. R. Bowden who joined Varnum in the city department.39
John Temple Graves did not join the staff for nearly two weeks
and then worked only briefly as a canvasser before leaving to
co-edit the Florida Herald, an evening paper begun by the
Ashmead Brothers. In the fall Graves and Harrison Clark, the
paper's business manager, would purchase the Herald. Although
the Herald would become the political enemy of the Times-Union,
it did not seriously rival it as a newspaper.40
With the consolidation of the papers, Jones thought it an
appropriate time to answer those who had been pressing the paper
to define its political position. He declared his belief that
a newspaper was a business, like any other commercial enterprise,
and should not be the organ of any political party. Newspaper
editors should speak for themselves--not for party leaders. The
editor should work with party leaders, not for them. Jones
declared that the paper had no "backers," and was free to chart
its own course. In politics, the paper would support government
by the people of property, education, and sobriety. Since the
Republican party in the South was largely the party of what he
termed the ignorant, propertyless, and irresponsible, the Times-
Union would be on the side of Democracy most of the Rme. In
local elections it would ignore political lines and stand for
fair play, equality under the law, and the promotion of educa-
tion for all citizens. On national issues the Times-Union
would stand for civil service reform, a tariff for revenue only,
lower taxes, economy in government, honest government, and aid
to education based on need.41
During the first weeks of the Times-Union's existence
Jones wrote several essays on his philosophy of journalism.
He felt that the idea of a newspaper as a purveyor of "news"
was gaining ground on the traditional view that newspapers
should be vehicles of opinion for editors and political parties.
The public's curiosity about the world around them was a sound
basis for a newspaper enterprise, he felt, and party politics
was not. The editorial page should reflect the honest convictions
of the editor, and if this evoked the hostility of some, it.would
at least be worthy of respect.
As the spring municipal election approached the Times-Union
began to give a great deal of attention to the incumbent
administration's seeming lack of interest in enforcing the
Sunday law or the laws against gambling. On March 3, 1883,
Jones ran an illustrated front page feature on a gang of bunko
artists operating in Jacksonville, apparently without police
intervention.43 Three days later the paper carried a story
describing the excursion of a reporter around town on Sunday
afternoon, detailing the bars he entered and the men he saw
there. As a gesture of obedience to the Sunday law the front
doors of the saloons were closed, but access by side doors was
easy and the traffic in and out obvious to policemen walking
their beats. The Times-Union had paid little attention to
the question since the last municipal election, but now resur-
rected it as the leading issue of the city campaign.
The agitation of the Sunday ordinance question was
evidently a means of preparing the ground for Jones's candidate
for mayor, John Q. Burbridge, who he said would unite the better
class of both parties and bring honest government to the town.
He warned that if respectable people wanted to have a better
government they would have to work for it by attending the ward
primaries where delegates to the convention would be selected
and the real decision made. But as he had feared, the profes-
sional politicians and their allies in the saloon and gambling
businesses controlled the primaries and elected their men to
the convention.45 Despite the Times-Union's warning that they
would be held accountable if they did not nominate decent
candidates, the Democrats nominated william M. Dancy for mayor
and a slate of party regulars for the remaining offices.46
Thereupon Jones announced that the Times-Union would support a
"citizens" ticket if any group of prominent men would place a
slate of good men in the race.47 On the next day Jones took
the initiative and named his own "Citizens Ticket," composed
of men selected from both the Democratic and Republican slates.
Patrick E. McMurray, the Republican nominee for mayor, headed
the "Citizens" list, with the only other Republicans being the
candidate for treasurer and a black man for assessor.48
The Times-Union campaigned hard for its slate, calling
Dancy the candidate of the gamblers and the rum dealers, and
before the campaign was over the paper had been sued twice.
James F. Rownsend, the Democratic nominee for treasurer, asked
for $5,000 damages for a story which suggested that he had
broken federal liquor laws. Manuel C. Jordan, a defeated
aspirant for the Republican nomination for mayor, brought
suit for $10,000 based on a story which alleged that he had
tried to purchase the nomination.50 When the entire Democratic
slate was elected, the Times-Union charged that the Democrats
had bought black voters "like swine." Although he had failed
to accomplish any goal he had set during the campaign, Jones
still attempted to claim a victory because Dancy had made a
promise of dubious value to enforce the Sunday law.51
A week after the city election Jacksonville was
confronted by a much more serious problem than municipal
politics. A Negro laborer from New Orleans brought small pox
into the town, and it had spread into the black community.
The threat of epidemic diseases to communities in the nineteenth
century was a very real and present danger, and the Times-Union
had made it a point to remind its readers that constant
vigilance be maintained to keep the town clean and healthful.S2
Now Jones was faced with the problem of deciding whether to
publish news that the disease was already within the city. If
the Times-Union publicized the fact that the disease was in
Jacksonville it would mean the immediate exodus of vacationers
lingering in the city, quarantining by the rest of the state,
and possible reprisals against the Times-Union for bringing
these calamities to pass. Jones hesitated and did not publish
the Jacksonville Board of Health's first report, but he did
print a short story on the last page of the Times-Union saying
that several Negroes had contracted something which might be
small pox, and they had been removed from the city.53 After
waiting two days he printed the Board of Health's report; at
the same time criticizing the "senseless panic" which had
overtaken tourist and citizen alike when rumors of the disease's
presence spread around town. He argued that there were no
grounds for serious apprehension and that a rail center such
as Jacksonville could expect to have small outbreaks from time
to time. Cities such as New York and Atlanta were never free
from such diseases, yet life there continued regardless.54
The Times-Union continued this low key approach to the problem
during the early days of the epidemic, advising vaccination of
children and the quarantining of homes where the disease was
present.55 As Jones had foreseen, the publishing of the small
pox report sent the tourists away weeks earlier than their
usual departure date, and towns on Jacksonville's communication
paths erected quarantines against the city. Jones declared
this not necessary; that the epidemic was under control and
would be stamped out within two or three weeks.56 "The
spectacle of the entire State gone wild with panic over a few
cases of small-pox, paralyzing trade and checking the tide of
immigration, is one of the most extraordinary manifestations
of human folly that it has ever been our fortune to witness,"
editorialized the Times-Union.57
As the epidemic went into its third week the paper's
tone became more critical, and it began to take the epidemic
more seriously. Jones criticized the Board of Health for con-
structing a poorly-built pest house for Negroes on low ground
where almost half the patients succumbed to the disease. This
treatment was contrasted to that afforded wealthy whites or
any white who could get a "prominent citizen" to intercede in
his behalf. Such kindness was not only unfair discrimination,
it tended to permit the disease to spread.58 This advice
caused some whites to accuse Jones of attempting to stir up
"race and caste prejudice," but Jones declared that that was
just what he was trying to prevent.59 By May 3, the Times-
Union reported that no new cases of small pox had been reported
for six days, and it advised that normal business be resumed
while the Board of Health watched over the convalescing.60
With that pronouncement, the Times-Union ceased to mention the
Although the epidemic was no longer alluded to in the
newspapers, this did not mean it had abated. The town's
leaders had decided to keep quiet about the small pox, hoping
that business would pick up as the panic subsided and that the
disease could be controlled in the meantime. Jones agreed to
cooperate with this new departure, and there was no mention of
the small pox for most of the month of May. Finally, however,
as the epidemic persisted and spread among the white population,
Jones decided to speak out. When word of his plan got around,
several leading citizens admonished and threatened him not to do
it. Ultimately Varnum (in Jones's absence), Mayor Dancy, and
Burbridge sat down to discuss a program of positive action.
Dn May 23 and 24 the Times-Union broke the news of the continuing
epidemic, and at the same time declared that Jacksonville
could rid itself of the disease in two months with concerted
effort. Recommendations included a new hospital for all white
patients, an improved black hospital, the supervised burning of
contaminated buildings, and the compulsory vaccination of the
town's entire populace.61
Quarantines which had been lifted were reimposed as
quickly as the railroads carried copies of the Times-Union to
neighboring towns.62 Having raised the alarm and promoted con-
structive action to end the epidemic, the Times-Union now
returned to the theme that there was no reason for panic and
that the quarantines against Jacksonville were unnecessary.63
Still, new cases were reported daily, and the arrival of
Dr. Bosso with his patent small pox cure was a sure sign that
word of the epidemic had spread far and wide.64 Dr. Bosso
placed full-page advertisements in the Times-Union and
attracted people in droves who visited his office to buy
"protection" in the form of "Dr. Bosso's Blessing to Mankind."
Dr. Bosso would meet a swift demise two months later in
Pensacola, reportedly from yellow fever, although he treated
himself with his own medicine and insisted down to the end
that he was not infected.65 In Jacksonville the disease was
brought under control toward the end of June.
The experience had been instructive for Jones. He had
been warned that his course in publicizing the epidemic might
ruin his newspaper, but, instead, his efforts promoted public
good without detrimental effects to the Times-Union. Also,
the haphazard, sometimes vindictive way in which the quaran-
tines against Jacksonville had been imposed convinced Jones
that Florida needed a state board of health, and he began to
lobby for its creation.66
Meanwhile Jones had become involved in a project to
construct a ship canal across the Florida peninsula. The idea
dated back to the days of Spanish Florida, but immediate
interest stemmed from a request made by United States Senator
Charles W. Jones in December, 1881, that the War Department
assemble all information gathered by previous canal planners.67
At the time, the project was endorsed by the Times as practical
and desirable.68 A year later in December, 1882, the Florida
Ship Canal Company was organized in New York. The Times noted
its impressive list of directors, but commented that it would
believe in the canal when it saw work underway.69 Tangible
evidence of the company's activity appeared shortly in the
form of two lobbyists who came to Jacksonville and Tallahassee
to promote the venture. They were asking the state for a one
mile right of way from the Atlantic to the Gulf and 6,000,000
acres of Internal Improvement Fund land to encourage investors
to put up the estimated $40 to $60 million needed to construct
the canal.70 The latter request was criticized as another
"land grab," but Jones defended the idea on the grounds that
the Internal Improvement Fund had been established for just
such purposes and that no land would be granted unless the
canal were completed.71
In January a bill to charter a trans-Florida ship canal
vent before the legislature, and a rival bill was introduced
by a barge canal company backed by George F. Drew, J. J. Finley,
and George P. Fairbanks, editor of the Fernandina Mirror. The
Times-Union suggested that it was time for the state to act on
the canal before all internal improvement lands had been given
away and no means of attracting capital remained.72 The canal
bill had no easy course in the legislature. When it emerged
there was no provision for a grant of Internal Improvement Fund
lands, and the company was required to pay for its right.of
way land.73 Even in this scaled-down form the Times-Union
urged its advancement, saying that the canal should be under-
taken while northern capitalists were still interested.74
In May the canal company was reorganized. Former
Tennessee Governor John C. Brown remained president, Ben Butler,
Senator William Mahone of Virginia, and State Senator Austin S.
Mann of Hernando County, Florida, were made directors.75 At
a board meetinga:month later Mann and Jones were named as a
Florida executive committee to promote the canal, Jones
becoming a director at the same time.76 By the summer engineers
were at work surveying possible routes for the canal and were
making confident predictions of initiating construction in
September. Jones declared that the venture was not a specu-
lative bubble and that while there were problems to be overcome
in construction of the canal they were much less formidable
than those faced in Suez.77
During the summer Jones, who attended the June meeting
of the directors in Washington, traveled around the southeast
promoting the canal. In an interview given to the New Orleans
Times-Democrat, he predicted that the Florida canal would divert
the flow of Midwestern agricultural produce from New York and
make New Orleans the chief market for European grain exports.
To those who doubted that the canal could be built he painted
the picture of giant dredges scooping out limestone rock with
ease.78 In July Charles P. Stone, chief engineer of the
company and an observer of the Suez Canal's construction while
in the service of the Khedive of Egypt, arrived in Jacksonville
and after a brief visit pronounced the project feasible and
possible of construction at a reasonable cost. Jones went to
New York for the next meeting of the board of directors where
Stone presented a report outlining plans for a 137.5 mile
canal which would be built at a cost of $46,000,000. The
highest elevation to be traversed would be 143 feet---somewhat
less than had been anticipated. According to Jones's dispatch
to the Times-Union, the only difficulty remaining was the
determination of means for financing the project.80 Fairbanks's
Fernandina Mirror said that such talk was overly optimistic,
but Jones attributed Fairbanks's criticism to his interest in
a barge canal.81
On December 1, 1883, Jones, Mann, Choate, and A. W. Jones
of Virginia were granted a charter by the state for the Florida
Ship and Transit Canal Company. The company was authorized to
construct a canal and to sell $40,000,000 worth of stock.82
Jones left for New York to confer with the directors later that
month. He sent back promising reports of impending sales of
stock, but in a private letter to Abernethy he suggested that
all was not well with the venture.83 Jones remained in the
North until the directors met in New York on January 9, 1884,
and, although it is not known what transpired there, when he
returned to Florida he dropped all connection with the canal
project and did not mention the canal again in the Times-Union
except to disassociate himself from it. The canal company
continued to exist for some years more, but no attempt was
made to begin construction of a canal.
In the fall of 1883 the question of the Sunday law
returned to the forefront, although the Times-Union had noted
earlier that Mayor Dancy was not enforcing Sunday closings.85
On a Sunday morning late in October George W. Jones received
word in newspaper headquarters that the police were shutting down
the news stands. He left the office and walked down Bay Street
to see for himself. He then visited Bettelini's restaurant
and Togin's saloon to have a few beers and verify that the
drinking establishments were not closed down.86 At the mayor's
court next morning it was revealed that not all the saloons
had remained unmolested. Several bar keepers were convicted
of violating the law and were fined, along with news stand
owners William H. Ashmead and Telfair Stockton.87 The mayor's
conversion to strict enforcement of the Sunday law was explained
by the Times-Union as an attempt to make the law so unpalatable
to the public that it would be repealed altogether. It was
pointed out that Dancy had been one of those who, a year
previously, had tried to "amend" the Sunday law to make it
more comprehensive, and it had been alleged then that his
ulterior motive was total repeal.88 When the mayor continued
to enforce the law rigidly against all Sunday enterprises, the
Times-Union threw its support behind a move by Burbridge to
modify the law so as to direct it explicitly against the liquor
dealers. Burbridge's proposal was voted down in the council
by a vote of two to five.89 Meanwhile, the question of
temperance, liquor license laws, and related subjects became
a major item of attention in the Times-Union, and Jones pre-
dicted that the question would increasingly force itself on
the public's consciousness and into politics.90
In October Jones announced that the weekly edition of
the newspaper, the Weekly Florida Times, had become the most
widely circulated newspaper in the state during its first year
of existence.91 Jones also was proud of the fact that it had
subscribers in most of the states.and.territories of the
country. Since its readers were largely rural agrarians,
there was more emphasis on farm and garden topics in the Weekly
Florida Times than in the Times-Union. J. G. Knapp was the
major contributor of articles on topics of special interest to
Florida farmers.92 In August George W. Jones had been sent to
the Southern Exposition at Louisville to open a booth at the
Florida exhibit and distribute some 50,000 special editions of
the weekly Florida Times, an effort which benefited both Florida
and the newspaper.93
The Times-Union itself had continued to prosper. After the
merger of the papers it had become apparent that the Times-Union
was outgrowing its plant facilities and in April it was announced
that a contract had been signed with Hoe Company of New York
for a $6,000 press capable of printing 3,500 copies per hour.
In May Jones and his head pressman went to New York to inspect
the press and to arrange for increased telegraphic news and
correspondence from northern cities.95 In that same month the
last of the kerosene lamps were taken out of the Times-Union
building and were replaced with gas lamps.96 The new Hoe
press, which arrived early in August, turned out a four-page,
seven-column paper, which by winter had been enlarged to eight
columns on week days and nine columns on Sunday, making room
for more Associated Press material and other "specials," The
faster press also facilitated the publication of late evening
telegraphic dispatches. During the season the paper featured
local society notes by a Mrs. Ingram, a decided innovation in
a male profession. By the end of 1883 Jones was claiming a
circulation twice that of the old Union or Times and five
times that of any other Florida daily. 7 Jones wrote
Abernethy: "The men and the staff seem to be working together
harmoniously, and business is booming to a degree far beyond
our most sanguine expectations."
The success of the Times-Union was not an unmixed
blessing for it meant that Jones's responsibilities grew
apace. In an effort to mitigate the stress of his habitual
dawn-to-midnight routine, Jones reorganized the staff of the
paper. John Ransom was made chief of staff with general
supervisory duties and responsibility for some editorial
writing. Howard Littlefield was given control of state and
telegraphic news, while Bowden and Wright handled local news.99
John Varnum sold his share of the paper to Jones and his
brother, and became secretary of the Jacksonville Board of
In an effort to improve his health and that of his wife,
Jones purchased a horse and buggy and made it a habit to take
time off from newspaper work for a daily drive around the town
and riverside.101 To save trips between the office and his
home, Jones had them connected by telephone.102 All this did
not mean that Jones's life became more tranquil. If anything,
the reverse was true. Perhaps the most significant development
in his affairs was his increasing involvement in the politics
of the city and state, which, he complained, was becoming a
NOTES TO CHAPTER III
1Edward C. Williamson BakBl oiia rss
Th aaeJamkovles Lnching, 1882, Florid Hitria Quarterly,86
XLV (April, 1967), 402-409.3, 182
Jacksonville Florida Daily Times, August 26, 1882.
Ibid., August 28, Setebe 1 182
Ibid., September 89, 1882. 5,182
Tallhasee Weekl Florid DianTie, September 26, 1882.
NOTES TO CHAPTER III (continued)
Jacksonville Florida Daily Times, November 9, 1882.
Ibid., September 22, 1882,
Ibid., October 15, 1882.
Tallahassee Neekly Floridian, May 2, 1882.
Jones to Abernethy, December 10, 1882, JP.
Ibid., December 29,1882, JP.
Jacksonville Florida Daily Times, October 17, 1882.
Ibid., October 18, 19, 20, 21, 26, 1882.
Ibid., October 21, 1882.
Ibid., November 26, 1882.
Ibid., February 12, December 7, 1882.
Ibid., December 12, 14, 15, 19, 1882.
31Ibid., December 24, 1882.
Ibid., January 21, 1883.
Ibid., January 31, 1882.
Ibid., January 28, 1883.
Jones to Abernethy, January 28, 1883, JP.
36Ibid., January 30, 1883, JP.
NOTES TO CHAPTER III (continued)
Jacksonville Florida Times-Union, February 14, 1883.
Ibid., February 4, 1883.
Ibid., February 4, 14, 1883.
James Esgate, Jacksonville The Metropolis of Florida
(Boston, 1885), 48; Tallahassee Weekly Floridian, October 23, 1883.
Jacksonville Florida Times-Union, February 4, 1883.
Ibid., February 16, 1883.
Ibid., March 3, 1883.
Ibid., March 6, 1883.
Ibid., March 9, 11, 14, 1883.
Ibid., March 16, 1883.
Ibid., March 17, 1883.
Ibid., March 18, 1883.
Ibid., March 24, 1885.
Ibid., March 27, 1883.
Ibid., April 2, 1883.
Jacksonville Florida Daily Times, April 20, September
NOTES TO CHAPTER III (continued)
Ibid., April 8, 1883.
Ibid., April 12, 13, 1883.
Ibid., April 20, 1883.
Ibid., April 22, 1883.
Ibid., April 24, 25, 1883.
Ibid., May 3, 1883.
Ibid., May 23, 24, 1883.
Ibid., May 25, 26, 1883.
Ibid., May 25, 26, June 17, 1883.
Ibid., June 11, 1883.
Ibid., June 11, 14, 17, September 7, 1883.
Ibid., June 28, July 17, 1883; for another account of
the epidemic see Webster Merritt, A Century of Medicine in Jack-
sonville and Duval County (Gainesville, 1949), 131-146.
Jacksonville Florida Daily Times, December 11, 1881, Jan-
uary 3, 1882.
Ibid., July 12, 1882.
Ibid., December 27, 1882.
70Ibid., January 12, 1883.
NOTES TO CHAPTER III (continued)
Ibid., January 14, 1883; Pensacola Commercial, January
Jacksonville Florida Times-Union, January 19, 1883.
Acts and Resolutions Adopted by the Legislature of Florida
at its Twelfth Session, 1883 (Tallahassee, 1883), 93-100.
Ibid., February 20, 1883.
Ibid., May 10, 1883.
Ibid., June 9, 1883.
Ibid., June 15, 1883.
Ibid., June 23, 1883.
Ibid., July 22, 1883.
Ibid., August 21, 1883.
Fernandina Florida Mirror, September 29, 1883; Jackson-
ville Florida Times-Union, October 11, 1883.
Tallahassee Weekly Floridian, December 11, 1883.
Jacksonville Florida Times-Union, December 11, 1883, Jones
to Abernethy, December 29, 1883, JP.
Jacksonville Florida Times-Union, September 4, 1884.
85Ibid., May 20, 1883.
Ibid., October 23,1883.
NOTES 10 CHAPTER III (continued)
Ibid.; Jacksonville Florida Daily Times, May 2, 1882.
Ibid., November 21, 1883.
Ibid., October 13, 1883 .
91Ibid., October 24, 1883.
Ibid., May 12, 1883.
Ibid., August 17, 1883.
Ibid., February 24, April 8, 1883.
Ibid., May 20, 1883.
Ibid., May 18, 1883.
Ibid., November 4, 1883.
Jones to Abernethy, December 19, 1883, JP.
Jacksonville Florida Times-Union, April 16, 1884.
Ibid., March 21, 1884.
Jones to Abernethy, May 24, 1884, JP.
Ibid., February 24, 1884.
EDITOR AS POLITICIAN
In 1884 the Times-Union was unusually restrained in its
comments on the city elections. Mayor Dancy and the entire
Democratic slate, with one exception, were elected to office,
and the Times-Union had only the mildest criticism to make of
"the boys." The reason, as Jones was candid to admit, was
that local elections influenced state and national elections,
and that the Times-Union did not wish to hurt the Democratic
party's chances by creating internal dissension. Dancy was
given credit for having the best interests of the town at
heart, and it was even admitted that the Sunday law as it was
presently written was impossible to enforce rationally.1 The
Republicans had placed themselves behind a reform "citizens"
ticket, which Jones called a sham, but he declared that if a
real reform slate were ever brought forward be would "set the
St. Johns River afire" in support of it.
In spite of Jones's renewed avowals that the Times-Union
was not abandoning enlightened independence for crass parti-
sanship, it was becoming, at least for a time, more and more
a Democratic party organ and less the champion of controversial
causes.3 But Jones had no intention of becoming merely the
servant of Democratic party leaders; he aspired to leadership
himself. Jones had great faith in the power of the press to
control public opinion and thus influence the behavior of
politicians. He observed that Charles E. Dyke, recently re-
tired editor of the Tallahassee Floridan, had never sought or
held public office but had often exerted more power than the
men who did. With Dyke's retirement, Jones predicted, the
Floridian would become just another newspaper. As editor of
the state's largest newspaper, Jones was in a position to
replace Dyke as the leading politician-editor of the state.
Before the 1884 election campaign was over, stories had begun
to circulate that party leaders objected to Jones's political
activity and resented his arrogant, know-it-all attitude about
The theme of party unity was not original to the Times-
Union in 1884, for the state Democracy was threatened by a
strong "Independent" movement.6 The movement had originated
among dissident elements in the Democratic party--disappointed
office seekers, ambitious young men, discontented cracker
farmers--but it had increasingly become a fusionist effort by
which the Republican party hoped to regain its lost power in
the state. When Jones came to Florida and established an
"independent" newspaper, some thought that he was in sympathy
with the movement, but Jones took care to explain that although
the Times was independent it was not in sympathy with the
"small body of office-seeking malcontents" calling themselves
Independents. Later Jones came to look more favorably on the
Independents, who were most active in Madison County. If these
men were not simply foreheadd office seekers," Jones wrote,
and really did stand for fair elections and social progress,
then they ought to be encouraged. It was only when efforts
were made to fuse Independents and Republicans that the Times
condemned the movement.
After the fall elections in 1882, J. Willis Menard,
Negro editor of the Key West News, wrote Republican national
chairman william E. Chandler saying that if the party wanted
to carry Florida in 1884 it must place men in the federal
offices who would work with the state's Negroes. He added
that all the black leaders favored the Independent movement.10
When Menard went to Washington in March,1883, to argue for a
Republican-Independent fusion, the Times-Union said that the
movement must be resisted because the Republicans would dominate
such a coalition and, if successful, would return Florida to
government by the lower classes. Jones admitted that if the
Independents could swing enough Democratic voters over to the
fusion ticket the Independents could win with the help of the
Republicans.11 The only hitch to the plan, Jones explained,
was that white Republicans holding federal offices would
resist the efforts of the blacks to undercut their leadership.
This would mean a split in the Republican ranks and the failure
of Independentism.12 Jones began at once to help make this
forecast a reality by publishing a letter from Republican state
executive committee chairman Edward M. Cheney denouncing the
proposed alliance with the Independents.13
The Negro revolt against the leadership of the white
Republican office-holders began to take concrete shape at a
meeting called by Menard in Gainesville on February 5, 1884,
where it was decided to enlist black support for the
Independents.14 When the Republican convention meeting at
Fernandina renominated Bisbee for Congress, Florida's black
Recontruction Congressman Josiah T. Walls bolted the convention
and had his own name placed in nomination. The Times-Union
printed Walls's accusation that Bisbee had packed the conven-
tion, and treated Halls's candidacy favorably since it was
expected that he had no chance of winning and would take votes
away from Bisbee.15 In general, however, the Times=Union
decried the attempt of the blacks to take control of the
Republican party away from "respectable white Republicans."16
The movement was described as a grab for spoils rather than
as a genuine party reform. This demand for more offices for
blacks meant, declared the Times-Union, "negro rule; and that
will never again be submitted to in any Southern State."17
The Independents were accused of inciting race hatred and of
spreading stories that the Democrats intended to take away
Negro rights.18 The Times-Union said that neither charge was
true: The Democratic party was the "best and truest friend"
of the Negro and was pledged to protect Negro rights, but
whites, Democrats and Republicans alike, would not vote to
place blacks in positions of power again.19
The restlessness of the Negroes under the leadership of
the federal office-holders had been noted by former Governor
Harrison Reed, who proposed to Henry S. Sanford, former American
diplomat who had become a major Florida developer, that they
prevent the impending desertion of the blacks to the Independents
by offering themselves as leaders. As a step La displacing the
leadership of the "ring," Reed proposed that he, Sanford, and
several railroad men combine to establish a Republican newspaper
themselves.20 Sanford did not agree to join this venture immedi-
ately, but Reed proceeded with his plans, fearful that Bisbee
and the "ring" would establish a newspaper themselves.21 It was
decided that S. A. Adams's Palatka Journal would be purchased
and moved to Jacksonville. Adams felt that the newspaper could
become success in Jacksonville since business and railroad
support was assured and because local merchants were unhappy
with the supposedly high rates they were forced to pay for
advertising in the Times-Union due to its monopoly of the
Jacksonville field.22 By April Sanford had been induced to
join the venture. He saw the Times-Union's monopoly of the
Associated Press dispatches as a problem, but felt that if
rights to the dispatches could not be purchased from Jones at
a reasonable price, the paper could begin as a bi-weekly with
a "breezy" format to attract readers. He would have preferred
someone other than Reed as editor, but felt he would be
adequate. Sanford went to Henry Plant and other railroad men
who promised their advertising patronage. The only holdouts
among Republicans were the "ring" office-holders, but Sanford
felt they would be forced to join or be left behind. The paper
was to be "racy, newsey, & aggressive against the democrats, and
with the promotion of the material interests of Florida, through
protection, at the fore." An understanding would be reached
with the Independents, and the Republicans would back their
ticket in the state.23
Sanford and Reed's Florida Journal began publication
in Jacksonville on May 26, appearing twice weekly on Mondays
and Thursdays. It had not secured the Associated Press dis-
patches and was plagued with a shortage of advertising patrons.
Part of its problems stemmed from the poor reputation
Republican newspapers had acquired over the years, many people
refusing to subscribe for fear that it would fold as soon as
the election campaign was over. 24 The hostility of the
Jacksonville "ring" also hurt the paper, and Adams complained
that Bisbee and his friends were steering friendly merchants
away from the newspaper.25 Because the Journal endorsed the
Independent movement the "ring" was doing its best to kill the
paper.26 However, the Times-Union's grasp on the Jacksonville
field was probably as great a handicap as any of the other
difficulties. The Journal aimed criticisms at Jones with
regularity, sarcastically referring to him as "the great
Florida journalist" and noting his airs of superiority.27
Jones could afford to overlook most of this criticism as the
chattering of an insignificant Radical organ, but the continued
personal abuse finally led him to blast the Journal as "the
most venomous, vindictive, and defamatory sheet that is issued
in the United States to-day," but this criticism was too harsh.28
While the Republicans were backing the Independents in
1884, there was also a substantial defection of white Democratic
voters as well. The accusation that Independents were dis-
appointed office seekers had some substance, for under the
constitution of 1868 few local offices were elective. The
idea of giving the governor power to appoint county officials
had originated as a Republican device to prevent the election
of Democrats and also to keep major state offices in the hands
of whites, but when state government returned to the hands of
the Democrats, it worked to prevent the election of Republicans.
However, many local Democrats, particularly in counties out-
side the black belt where there was no threat of blacks' being
elected, resented the centralization of power in Tallahassee.
Benjamin Harrison of Palatka wrote the Times-Union saying that
"young Democrats" felt the system was a failure and wanted a
constitutional revision to permit county elections.30
George Troup Maxwell, a Democrat-turned-Independent, wrote
that Independentism had its origins in 1879 when Governor
Bloxham refused to call a constitutional convention even after
the Democratic caucus had endorsed the idea.31 Charles Fildes,
editor of the Gainesville ygy((L) Bee and a convert to Indepen-
dentism, admitted that he and other South Floridians felt that
they had been denied positions in state government because of
favoritism for black belt, "Tallahassee Ring," men.32 There
were indications that farmers and working men resented the
B10xham administration's seeming preference for wealthy
investors and corporations. In June farmer elements withdrew
from a precinct caucus in Putnam County, vowing their intention
of holding a caucus of their own.33 Toward the close of the
campaign the Times-Union declared that a forged letter was
being circulated over the name of the Democratic nominee
saying that blacks and "poor whites" should be kept away from
the polls. It also published an apology from the Democratic
nominee to the Jacksonville Workingmen's Association for his
failure to make an address before them during the campaign.
The Independents held their convention at Live Oak on
June 18, with about a hundred white and Negro delegates in
attendance, watched by a curious crowd of Democrats and local
blacks. They adopted a platform denouncing the Democratic
party's alleged favoritism toward railroads, corporations, and
large land holders. The platform denounced Governor Bloxham's
sale of 4,000,000 acres of land to Philadelphia businessman
Hamilton Disston and land grants to the railroads. The Inde-
pendents called for a free ballot and a full count, a railroad
commission, the convening of a constitutional convention, local
option liquor laws, and an end of give-aways to big land
speculators. Frank Pope, a young lawyer of Madison County, was
nominated for governor and Jonathan C. Greeley of Jacksonville,
a Republican, for lieutenant governor.35 The Times-Union com-
mented editorially that it did not think the alliance between
Pope and the Republicans would succeed, and the movement would
therefore come to nothing.36 However, contrary to Jones's
expectations, the Republican convention did throw the weight
of the party behind the Independent candidates, although Pope
and Greely were "endorsed" rather than nominated outright.
This may have been a tactic to lessen the stigma of "Radical"
support which could be expected to scare away potential defectors
from the Democratic ranks.37
The Democrats faced the task of preserving party unity
under pressure from the Independents aimed at fracturing white
solidarity. The incumbent governor, William D. Bloxham, had
several solid achievements to his credit and would have been
the natural choice for renomination except that he was the
focus of Independent charges of "ring rule" and pro-carporation
favoritism. Moreover, he had announced that he would not be
a candidate due to grief over the recent death of his daughter.38
When Bloxham made his withdrawal announcement, Jones questioned
whether this might not be a passing sentiment, and Bloxham's
name remained among those mentioned for the position, but it is
probable that he sincerely did not want a second term. A
professor from the Lake City agricultural college who visited
Bloxham in the summer of 1884 described Bloxham as "broken down,"
stricken with grief, and determined to retire from politics.40
The Times-Union declared that Bloxham's retirement from the
field was in the best interest of the party since some of the
controversial actions of his administration had earned him
many enemies, and the party needed a candidate who would not
alienate any segment of the public.41
By April the men being mentioned most often for the
nomination by the Times-Union were Bloxham, Drew, and Mann.
Bloxham still maintained that he was not a candidate, but his
friends believed that he would accept the nomination if it
were offered him, and he sometimes encouraged this idea.42
Drew was seen by the Times-Union as a good candidate and a
man who could attract the votes of Northern immigrants and
Independents because of his identification with the progressive
wing of the party. Mann, a personal acquaintance of Jones,
was the candidate of South Florida.43 In May Drew openly
declared his candidacy.
During June rumors of a Bloxham-Drew feud began to
circulate. At the Putnam County convention it was stated by
some that Drew would not support Bloxham if he were the nominee
of the party, but this was denied at the time by Drew's friends.
To investigate these rumors a Times-Union reporter was sent to
interview Drew on June 10. The result was a bombshell: Drew
declared flatly that he would not support Bloxham because
Bloxham had taken the nomination away from him in 1880 after
having promised not to enter the contest. Drew stated that
this year Bloxham was playing the same game by publicly dis-
avowing interest in the nomination while permitting his friends
to seek it on his behalf.46 Bloxham sent a denial of the story
to the Times-Union and repeated his declaration that he would
not be a candidate.47
Privately Bloxham wrote Jones that he feared the Drew
interview would create "bitter feelings" and hurt the party's
chances in the election. Bloxham told Jones that he was
anxious to see a new man nominated, but he was reluctant to
make a final disavowal of his candidacy unless Drew would do
Dyke, one of the leaders in securing Bloxham's nomination
in 1880, gave an interview to the Tallahassee Floridian
saying that he had worked for Bloxham's nomination in 1880
without Bloxham's knowledge and that Drew could not have
secured renomination in 1880 in any event.49
The immediate reaction to the interview was that Drew
had knocked both himself and Bloxham out of the race, and that
the party should take advantage of the situation to nominate a
third man.50Some thought that Jones had maneuvered Drew and
Bloxham into a situation where they would kill each other off,
but this theory is flawed by the fact that Jones was returning
from the Republican national convention in Chicago when the
interview was made.51
The Democratic state convention was held in Pensacola,
the home town of Edward A. Perry, and its selection was viewed
as an indication of Perry's strength in the race for the
nomination.52 Jones was among those who advocated the selection
of Pensacola earlier, probably because he had decided that
Perry was the man to support for the nomination.53 Jones had
not been elected as a delegate to the convention, but a
Jacksonville delegate gave Jones authorization to attend as
his alternate. Jones went to Pensacola, a "straggling and
sleepy-looking" town, with forbodings of disaster because of
the Drew-Bloxham embroilment, but this threat evaporated when
both Bloxham and Drew refused to allow their names to be entered
in the contest.54
During the convention Jones telegraphed back to the Times-
Union that Bloxham had written a letter in behalf of Perry,
and, despite an "authorized" denial in the Tallahassee
Floridian, Bloxham was supporting Perry.55 During the early
balloting Perry, Comptroller H. D. Barnes, and Samuel Pasco of
Monticello divided the convention's votes fairly evenly. Pasco,
the chairman of the state executive committee, had a Harvard
education and may have been suspect in the eyes of black belt
conservatives. When Barnes withdrew after three ballots, Perry
was nominated.56 A veek later Bloxham wrote Perry that the
story of the endorsement letter had been devised to drive
Drew's friends to Pasco. He admitted that he had favored him
or Barnes for the nomination, but Bloxham suggested that Perry
try to stop press reports that he was responsible for the con-
vention's decision.57 Jones was almost certainly aware of
the circumstances behind Perry's nomination, but he supported
him vigorously during the campaign, denying that he was the
candidate of Blaxham, the "ring," the railroads, or the rich.58
At the convention Jones had been a member of the committee
on resolutions and the sub-committee on the platform. He read
the final draft of the platform to the convention, defending
its low tariff plank against Alexander St. Clare-Abrams,
Charles Dougherty, and other advocates of protection. After
a heated floor fight the tariff plank was altered to suit
the high-tariff men.59 The proposal to call a constitutional
convention was welcomed by delegates outside the black belt
and was accepted by the black belt as representative of the
overwhelming sentiment of the party. Anti-ring spokesmen felt
the platform was too complimentary of the Bloxham administration,
but were satisfied by the endorsement of a new constitutional
convention which presumably would end the centralization of
power in Tallahassee.60
The platform also contained an endorsement of
Grover Cleveland for the Democratic nomination. Later Jones
and Mann were to claim that they and the "progressive element"
maneuvered the convention into an instruction for Cleveland
over the opposition of the old-line Democrats, who backed
Thomas F. Bayard as a southern man.61 It is probable that
Jones and Mann led the move to endorse Cleveland, but several
newspapers representative of conservative Democrats had come
out for Cleveland before the convention, indicating that
Cleveland had supporters in both wings of the party.62 Jones,
despite his 1882 endorsement of Cleveland for the presidency,
was a late arrival on the New York governor's bandwagon. He
had favored Tilden's nomination until the summer of 1884
when it was apparent that Tilden could not make the race due
to a paralytic stroke, and it was not until June that the
Times-Union decided that Cleveland should be the nominee.63
The convention of the Second Congressional District to
nominate a candidate for Congress convened in Palatka a week
after the Pensacola convention. While a summer thunderstorm
drenched the town, the delegates labored through fourteen
indecisive ballots, and then recessed for dinner. During the
adjournment prior to the evening session Charles Fildes
attempted to assault Jones in a local hotel lobby. Files,
editor of the Gainesville Bee and brother-in-law of Frank Pope,
had been elected as a delegate, but had since come out with an
endorsement of the Independent movement. Jones had raised
the question in the Times-Union whether Fildes should be
allowed to sit in the Democratic convention. During the night
session Fildes, having declared that he was armed and would
fight to speak, entered the hall and attempted to address the
convention. He was shouted down and evicted from the premises
by the sergeants at arms. When the excitement of the
incident died down, the delegates proceeded to nominate
Charles Dougherty, an orange grower and member of the state
legislature from Volusia County.
Jones received the nomination of Dougherty, who had
fought him on the tariff plank a week earlier, with little
enthusiasm, but declared that he was the party's choice and
must be supported.65 Jones was not the only one dissatisfied
with Dougherty's nomination, and opposition to him within the
ranks threatened his chances of election. While Jones said
his nomination was secured by good organization, others
attributed it toward politics or wire pulling by the
"Tallahassee Ring." Despite his early antipathy toward the
Democratic nominee, Jones worked hard for his election,
appearing at Dougherty rallies and lending him the support of
his columns.67 As time passed, Dougherty appeared to be gaining
strength and proving wrong those who felt he would be an easy
mark for Bisbee.68
Although Jones was in the thick of state politics, he
wasif anything, more interested in the Presidential race.
In June he had gone to the Republican convention in Chicago
and had been invited on the floor as a guest of the national
committee. He talked to Whitelaw Reid, the politician-editor
of the New York Tribune, who accurately predicted that Blaine
would receive the nomination. Jones notedthe enthusiasm for
Blaine among the delegates, but said his nomination would
lead to Democratic victory in November because reform Republicans
would not vote for Blaine.69
A month later Jones again went to Chicago as a spectator
at the Democratic convention. Earlier he had expected to go
as a Florida delegate, and his name was entered as a candidate
for a spot on the delegation at the Pensacola convention, but
it had been removed on the request of some Middle Florida
delegates.70 His first reaction at the convention was one
of disappointment, for it appeared that the New York Democrats
were so divided between the Cleveland men and the Tammany men
that there was no hope of carrying the state in the fall.
His spirits revived as it became apparent that Cleveland would
have little difficulty in securing the nomination. He spent
a good deal of time observing the labors of the platform com-
mittee, and expressed admiration at its adroit handling of
sensitive issues. He was particularly interested in the
tariff plank, since he had predicted .that the 1DW tariff Stance
which had been rejected at Pensacola would be adopted by the
national convention. However, the plank adopted at Chicage
was equivocal and not squarely low tariff.71 Jones left Chicago
with a train load of Georgia delegates who sang and cheered
on their journey and congratulated Jones for the Florida
delegation's solid support for Cleveland.72
Early in August Jones received a letter from Cleveland
complimenting his labors for the party and expressing the hope
"that the work will be so well done, and the result so decisive,
that there will be no temptation to our opponents to attempt
to steal the State."73 This reference by the Democratic nominee
illustrated the lingering fear that the Republicans would
attempt to repeat their "steal" of 1876 in which Florida's
electoral votes had been decisive. Cleveland possibly invited
Jones to visit him for a conference and asked him to act as
his campaign representative in the state. Late in September
Jones traveled North to see Senator Arthur Gorman, Cleveland's
secretary Daniel Lamont, and other Democratic leaders, and he
was among the steady stream of callers who spoke with Cleveland
in his executive office in Albany on September 23.75 Cleveland