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his intimacy with Jefferson came soon to have the force of official utterance. James Duane of the Philadelphia Aurora, and Joseph Gales, of the National Intelligencer, were other editorial correspondents of note. John Agg, a small, delicate-featured man, with bright, blue eyes and musical voice, who wrote agreeable vers de société during the reign of Mrs. Dolly Madison, and was a great favorite with the ladies; Lund Washington, a relative, some degrees removed, of the father of his country; Joseph L. Buckingham, a sarcastic Bostonian, and James Montague, a gifted Virginian, covered the period between 1812 and 1822. The first person to establish himself permanently as a professional correspondent at the capital was Elias Kingman, of Rhode Island. He is to be considered, therefore, as the founder of the present guild. Mr. Kingman was graduated at Brown University in 1816, and after teaching in the South for several years, in 1822 established himself at Washington as a newspaper correspondent. During his long and honorable service of nearly forty years, Mr. Kingman corresponded with such journals as the Commercial Advertiser and Journal of Commerce of New York, the Charleston Courier, the Baltimore Sun and New Orleans Picayune. Colonel Samuel F. Knapp, of Massachusetts, came next in point of seniority, having passed several winters in the capital as correspondent of the Boston Galaxy and Charleston Courier. Nathaniel Carter, of the New York Statesman, who later published two volumes of well-written letters from Europe, and Daniel L. Child, of the Boston Advertiser, were regular Washington correspondents from 1824 to 1829. James Brooks, of the Portland Advertiser, who has been said to have been the father of Washington correspondence, did not write his first letter from the capital until 1832.
The letters of these old-school correspondents were accurate, scholarly, dignified chronicles of political events, written for the day of stage.coaches, but giving no hint of the social gossip and personal happenings of the day.
In the beginning Congressmen seem to have displayed as great animosity toward the literary bureau as in later times. In 1812, for instance, Nathaniel Rounsavelt, of the Alexandria Herald, was brought to the bar of the House and imprisoned for contempt in refusing to tell who had given him information of the action, in secret session, on the embargo. And a letter in the Philadelphia Press of about the same date, charging John Randolph with having been bribed with British gold to oppose the war, provoked from that eccentric genius a bitter diatribe against the guild in general.
James Gordon Bennett, from 1827 to 1832 correspondent of the New York Courier, introduced what may be called the era of social gossip and personal description and anecdote.
One of the most truculent correspondents of this era was Matthew L. Davis, the friend and biographer of Aaron Burr, who wrote under the nom de plume of “ The Spy in Washington,” but who was known to the guild as “ The Old Boy in Specs.” Mr. Davis lived to be eighty-four years of age, and during the
last fifteen years of his life was the regular correspondent of the London Times. His letters, under the signature of " The Genevese Traveller," are said to have been the best ever written from the capital. A remark of his “that he would vote for Henry Clay for President as long as he (Clay) lived, and after that for Clay's executor," was one of the bonmots of the day. It was this gentleman who wrote the letter that led to the unfortunate duel between Representatives Graves and Cilley. Nathan Sargent, of the Philadelphia Press, is remembered as another "thorn in the flesh" of the Congressmen of that period. His spirited and truculent letters rarely failed to raise a storm in the Capitol. During one of these tempests the offended member-Hon. C. J. Ingersoll, of Pennsylvania—moved his expulsion from the desk that had been assigned to him, " in order that the honor and dignity of the House might be maintained,” but John Quincy Adams arose, and remarked quietly that the author of the letter "was as respectable as the honorable member from Pennsylvania himself," and the motion was not pressed. The letters of Sylvester S. Southworth, signed “ John Smith, Jun., of Arkansas,” of Major James M. Rae, Mr. Harriman, Dr. Thomas M. Brewer, Edward Hart, E. L. Stevens, A. G. Allen, Edmund Burke, Francis J. Grund, and Jesse E. Dow were notable for their pith and point. James E. Harvey, later Minister to Portugal, and Ben Perley Poore, who wrote his first letter from Washington in 1838, were also among their contemporaries. In 1833, Messrs. Hale and Hallock, of the New York Journal of Commerce, established the “pony express
between New York and Philadelphia, which by means of eight relays of horses enabled them to secure their Washington news one day in advance of their competitors. This feat inaugurated the era of newspaper enterprise. Their rivals of the morning press first united to form an opposition line, and then induced the Post-Office Department to take charge of it, whereupon Messrs. Hale and Hallock extended their express to Washington, and still continued to be a day in advance of their rivals. But Professor S. F. B. Morse, in 1844, sent the first message by magnetic telegraph from Washington to Baltimore, and in a very short time revolutionized the entire method of transmitting news. The New York Associated Press was organized, and the present methods of news gathering went into operation. The special correspondents now turned their attention more to social and political gossip, and to the securing of news in advance of the Associated Press, for the sole use of their respective journals. They were especially enjoined to maintain a keen scent for corruption in high places, and in this work they unquestionably rendered great service to the nation. It may be considered as some offset to this service that in certain cases partisan charges of corruption have been made on inadequate or incorrect evidence, and such charges, quoted and circulated throughout the breadth of the land, are of course not only an almost irreparable injustice to officials whose good names are brought into question, but are a grave injury to the community whose respect for its government is thus wantonly impaired. Mr. James W. Simonton, so long the efficient head of the Associated Press, was the first Washington correspondent to expose Congressional corruption. In 1857, as Washington correspondent of the New York Times, he wrote a letter to that journal framing grave charges against certain members of the House in regard to land grants that had been made to railroads. When the paper containing the charges was received there were stormy scenes in the House, and the implicated members demanded the punishment of the offender. But while the matter was being debated, a reputable Representative arose and said that he had been approached with an offer of $1,500, if he would vote for a certain measure. An investigation, therefore, became necessary, and the guilty members, to escape expulsion, resigned. The House, however, in revenge, held Mr. Simonton a prisoner during the remainder of the session, because he would not disclose the name of his informant.
The "editorial correspondence," as a means of shaping public opinion, especially on political subjects, was continued down to the period of the civil war. James Watson Webb of the New York Courier and Engineer, George D. Prentice, of the Louisville Journal, Thurlow Weed, of the Albany Evening Journal, Henry B. Anthony, of the Providence Fournal, Richard Yeadon, of the Charleston Courier, Thomas Ritchie, of the Richmond Enquirer, and at a later day, Horace Greeley, Henry J. Raymond, and James and Erastus Brooks, made use of this arm of