New York Journal of Commerce and Gazette

City: New York

State: New York

Founded in New York City in 1827 by Arthur Tappan, the New York Journal of Commerce and Gazette was one of the first commercial newspapers in the city. A prominent merchant, reformer, and abolitionist, Tappan designed the paper as a mercantile paper with a religious bent; it did not accept theater or lottery advertising, and endorsed anti-slavery, Sabbatarianism, and temperance. Untrained in journalism, Tappan sold the paper in 1828 to Gerald Hallock and David Hale, both experienced in religious journalism, who sustained at least part of Tappan's vision. Hallock and Hale became pioneers in news-gathering, utilizing fast steamers to intercept packet ships carrying foreign intelligence and a horse express to accelerate the movement of information from other parts of the country, allowing the Journal of Commerce to publish news before its competitors. Hale died in 1849, and Hallock assumed sole management until his retirement in 1861.

Unlike Tappan, Hallock, the principal editor from 1828 to his retirement, was a Democrat who endorsed slavery and states' rights. The Commerce scorned abolitionism, supported the Fugitive Slave Act, and opposed the Free-Soil and Republican parties. When seven southern states seceded after the presidential election of 1860, Hallock defended their right to do so and denounced any attempt to coerce them back into the Union. Hallock gave only partial and grudging support to the Civil War, and in August 1861, the postmaster general ordered the New York postmaster not to accept the Journal of Commerce for mailing because of its supposed disloyal conduct and content. This order prompted the retirement of Hallock. Hallock's successors continued his criticism of the war and its conduct, and in May 1864, General John A. Dix suppressed the paper for two days because the editors published a forged presidential proclamation purporting to order a draft of 400,000 men.

Frank Luther Mott, American Journalism, A History: 1690-1960, 3rd ed. (New York: MacMillan, 1962), 181-82, 351-52; William H. Hallock, Life of Gerard Hallock (New York: Oakley, Mason, 1869; reprint ed., New York: Arno, 1970), 10-14, 73-172.