Washington Union

City: Washington

State: District of Columbia

The Washington Union originated in May 1845 in the aftermath of James K. Polk’s victory in the presidential election of 1844. Understanding the importance of having a newspaper sympathetic to his administration, Polk wanted to replace the Washington Globe, the official organ of the Jackson and Van Buren administrations, with a new newspaper. Polk was uniquely equipped for this task, having established the Nashville Union in 1835 to advance his political career in the volunteer state. Despite pleas from Jackson, Polk was determined to go through with his project, and in April 1845, Francis P. Blair and John C. Rives, owners of the Globe, sold the paper to Thomas Ritchie, Sr. and John P. Heiss, and the last issue of the Globe appeared on April 30. Ritchie became the editor of the new paper and renamed it Union. The first issue of the paper appeared on May 1 with the motto, “Liberty, the Union, and The Constitution.” The Union became the official organ of the Polk administration, and other Democratic newspapers around the country reprinted material gathered from its pages. Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan continued to employ the Union as the official organ of their administrations, but the paper’s influence weakened as the country lurched toward Civil War. Its last issue appeared on April 10, 1859.

Frederic Hudson, Journalism in the United States, From 1690 to 1872 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1873), 241-42, 257, 258; Mark E. Byrnes, James K. Polk: A Biographical Companion (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio, 2001), 143; “About the Washington Union,” Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, accessed July 3, 2019, (City of Washington, (DC), 1857-1859, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82006534/; Paul H. Bergeron, The Presidency of James K. Polk (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1987), 171-75.