James Gordon Bennett, Sr.


James Gordon Bennett, Sr.

Infobox Person
name = James Gordon Bennett, Sr.



image_size = 250px
caption =
birth_date = 1 September 1795
birth_place = Newmill,Scotland
death_date = 1 June 1872
death_place = New York City
occupation = Publisher
spouse =
parents =
children = James Gordon Bennett, Jr.

James Gordon Bennett (1 September 1795 – 1 June 1872), was the founder, editor and publisher of the "New York Herald" and a major figure in the history of American newspapers.

Born to a poor farmer in Newmill, Scotland, Bennett emigrated to Nova Scotia, where he taught bookkeeping, then to Portland, Maine. He was in Boston by January 1820. He worked as a proofreader and bookseller before the "Charleston Courier" hired him to translate Spanish news reports. He moved to New York City in 1823 where he worked as a freelance paper writer and editorial assistant.

In May 1835, Bennett began the "Herald" after years of failing to start a paper. In April 1836, it shocked readers with front–page coverage of the murder of prostitute Helen Jewett; Bennett conducted the first-ever newspaper interview for it. The "Herald" initiated a cash–in–advance policy for advertisers, which become the industry standard. Bennett was also at the forefront of using the latest technology to gather and report the news, and added illustrations produced from woodcuts. In 1839, Bennett was granted the first ever exclusive interview to a United States President, Martin Van Buren. [Paletta, Lu Ann and Worth, Fred L. (1988). "The World Almanac of Presidential Facts". ]

The "Herald" was officially independent in its politics, but endorsed William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, James K. Polk, Franklin Pierce, and John C. Frémont. Bennett supported James Buchanan as tensions rose over slavery. He endorsed John C. Breckinridge for the 1860 presidential campaign, then shifted to John Bell. He promoted George B. McClellan in 1864, but endorsed no candidate. Although he opposed Abraham Lincoln, Bennett backed the Union, then took the lead to turn the president into a martyr after his assassination. He favored most of Andrew Johnson's Reconstruction proposals.

By the time Bennett turned control of the "Herald" over to his son James Gordon Bennett Jr. in 1866, it had the highest circulation in America. However, under the younger Bennett's stewardship, the paper declined, and, after his death, it was merged with its arch-rival, the "New York Tribune".

The phrase "Gordon Bennett" which denotes exasperation or shock derives from the son, or amongst the FDNY where it is highest medal a New York City Firefighter can earn(compared to the Congressional Medal of Honor of the US Military), "That meal was so good, it should win the Gordon Bennett!"

He also has a street named for him from West 181st to Hillside Ave in Northern Manhattan a.k.a. Washington Heights, a park named in his honor is also along Bennett Ave.

Notes

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External links

* [http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=22960927 James L. Crouthamel; "Bennett's New York Herald and the Rise of the Popular Press" Syracuse University Press, 1989]
* [http://www.mrlincolnandnewyork.org/inside.asp?ID=32&subjectID=3 Mr. Lincoln and New York: James Gordon Bennett]
* [http://www.abrahamlincolncartoons.info/SubPages/Biography.php?UniqueID=7 HarpWeek Biography of Gordon]
* [http://www.bartleby.com/226/index.html#12 Newspapers, 1775–1860 by Frank W. Scott]
* [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=3321 James Gordon Bennett's Gravesite]


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