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Angell's Career as Editor

James Burrill Angell
The Michigan Alumnus 414-415

Library Notes
Dr. Angell’s Career as an Editor

The University Library has recently 
received a privately printed volume 
entitled "Half a century with the
 Providence Journal, being a record of 
the events and associates connected
 with the past fifty years of the life of
 Henry R. Davis, secretary of the Com

The volume is interesting to
 Michigan men on account of the reminiscences it contains by President 
Angell of his connection with the Jour
nal, of which he was editor from 1860 
to 1866, —a file of which for these
 years Dr. Angell presented to our
 University Library some years ago.

 returned from my studies in Europe
 in August, 1853," writes Dr. Angell, 
" and entered upon my duties as pro
fessor at Brown in September. From
 my early boyhood I had been a regu
lar reader of the Journal. During the
 years 1854, 1855, 1856, I contributed
 several communications on European
 affairs, which Governor Anthony, the 
editor, chose to insert as editorials. 
In 1857 he made a regular engage
ment with me, and during that year I
 wrote about one article a week, and 
in 1858 I furnished a larger number 
of articles. In March 1859, Anthony took his seat in the Senate. 
James S. Ham, so long connected
 with the Journal, was left in editorial
 charge, while I was depended on to
 furnish the bulk of the editorial mat
ter. Still discharging my profession
al duties, I wrote a large part of the
 leading articles and paragraphs. Of
 course I no longer confined myself to 
foreign themes. The great national 
issues, which brought us to the war in
 1861, were looming on the horizon and
 invited earnest and continuous discus

During the year
1860, Mr. Ham became very desirous 
of laying off the responsible charge of 
the Journal. It was growing difficult 
for me to discharge satisfactorily to 
myself my double duties as teacher 
and editorial writer. Accordingly at 
the end of the academic year I re
signed my chair in the college and ac
cepted the invitation to take the editorship, subject of course to the control
 of the Senator. That position I held
 from the summer of 1860 to the summer of 1866. A more interesting and 
important period for the responsible
 part of conducting such a newspaper 
has not been presented in our history. 
 Few of the newspapers in our country 
have so won the confidence and so con
trolled the opinions and actions of 
their constituency as the Providence
 Journal under the editorship of Henry
 B. Anthony. Its opponents used to
 say that its readers considered it their
 political bible and opened it in the 
morning to know what they ought to

Those who now
 enter the spacious offices of the Jour
nal and see its large mechanical outfit 
and its force of writers, reporters, and 
clerks will have difficulty in under-
standing on how modest a scale it was 
then conducted. * * *

I not only
 wrote, as a rule, all the editorial
 articles, but read all the exchanges and
 made the clippings, and supervised
 and edited all communications. Not 
more than a column and a half or two 
columns of editorial matter was ordi
narily expected. We had no regular
 reporter, except the marine reporter, 
 who was a compositor and set up the
 news he gathered. When I wanted a
 reporter I sent out and found one. 
 Two or three college students held 
themselves subject to my call, when I 
could find them. After the war came
 on I engaged some young officer in
 each Rhode Island regiment and each 
battery, generally one of my college 
pupils, to correspond, and very well 
they did all their duty. Not infre
quently after I had gone home at 1 
o'clock in the morning, good-natured
 Joe Burroughs, the foreman of the 
printing room—God bless his memory
—came to my house with some import
ant news from the front and I crept 
out of bed and in very slender attire
 wrote an article on the subject for him 
to take back.

During the 
war the Journal office was the gather
ing place for all the prominent men in
 the city and in the state. My table
 was in the outer room surrounded by 
these men. One could not but catch
 many good suggestions from their 
conversation. We used to say, more
 expressively than elegantly, that 'we 
milked every cow that came into our
 yard.'" Dr. Angell remained with
 the Journal until the close of the war. 
 "Meantime the severity of the work, 
 in which I had really been engaged for 
eight years, with only a week's vaca
tion in each year, was beginning to 
affect my health. An urgent call to
 return to academic life by accepting 
the presidency of the University of
 Vermont in August, 1866, led me to
 part company with the Journal and my
 pleasant associates on its staff. But I am glad to bear witness that the ex
perience and training in that strenu
ous life have been of much service to
 me since, and that the memories of my
co-workers from the compositors to 
the Senator are among the brightest 
I have cherished."