Monday, July 8, 2013

Jul 8 (1889) 1st Issue of Wall Street Journal: "For all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of free men"

Vermont C. Royster. Image courtesy of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, Raleigh, NC.

On this day in 1889, the first edition of the Wall Street Journal was published. Founded by Charles Dow, Edward Jones and Charles Bergstresser, it started as a 4-page afternoon paper selling for $0.02. Today the paper costs $2.00, and with 2.4 million daily copies is the largest newspaper by circulation in the United States. (USA Today is second with 1.7 million.)

In addition to its business and economic news, the Journal is famous for its editorial pages. One of the first editorial contributors to win a Pulitzer Prize was Vermont Connecticut Royster (yes, that's his real name).

A native of Raleigh, North Carolina and graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, Royster served for 61 years at the Journal, and earned several honors and awards. Upon receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Ronald Reagan said, "Vermont Royster illuminated the political and economic life of our times." Several of his editorials are considered classics, including "And the Fair Land" which has been reprinted every Thanksgiving since 1961, and is excerpted below.

"We can all remind ourselves that the richness of this country was not born in the resources of the earth, though they be plentiful, but in the men that took its measure.

For that reminder is everywhere -- in the cities, towns, farms, roads, factories, homes, hospitals, schools that spread everywhere over that wilderness.

We can remind ourselves that for all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of free men governing themselves without benefit of kings or dictators. Being so, we are the marvel and the mystery of the world, for that enduring liberty is no less a blessing than the abundance of the earth."

Further Reading
Vermont C. Royster obituary in the New York Times (1996)
Post a Comment

Flannery O'Connor

You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.