The Austin Weekly Statesman

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The Austin Weekly Statesman

At the Democratic State Convention in January 1871, delegates decided that Austin needed a Democratic newspaper to compete with the two Republican papers already in circulation. A committee, led by Alexander Stuart Walker, hammered out the details for a Democratic paper.

The Austin Democratic Statesman debuted on July 26, 1871 as a tri-weekly published on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The first issue stated, “This paper is established in support of the principles of Democracy as set forth in [the Democratic State Convention] platform.” In August 1871, the Statesman Publishing Company introduced a Tuesday weekly, the Weekly Democratic Statesman, which gained immediate success. Cardwell served as editor for both papers. In 1873, a subscription to the Weekly Democratic Statesman cost two dollars and fifty cents. That same year the Democratic Statesman abandoned the tri-weekly format and became a daily. The paper, four pages long and with a size of 29 x 43 inches, had a circulation of 1,800.

The Statesman printed international and national news, local news, correspondence from reporters based in Washington, D.C., and announcements of state government events. Columns were reserved for brief news telegrams from reporters stationed throughout Texas and editorials representing the paper’s Democratic principles. The paper also reported on the growth of state and city services, ethnic and racial conflicts in the Austin area, and economic strategies for local businesses. Considered a family paper, the Statesman ran articles on farming, animal husbandry, medicinal home remedies, fashion, childcare, and household management.