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story.lead_photo.caption The historic depiction of the Arkansas Gazette's first printshop in the Arkansas Territory was supposedly based upon a sketch made by William E. Woodruff that was used to make an engraving in 1877. Photographed from a page of the 1919 Arkansas Gazette Centennial Edition in ADG library. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/CELIA STOREY)

From Page 2 of his final issue, the March 18, 1853, Arkansas State Gazette and Democrat, this is William Woodruff's farewell letter to subscribers. The typo in the headline and others in the text are from the original:

TO FRIENDS AND PATRONS OF THE GAZETE AND DEMOCRAT

The present No. of the GAZETTE AND DEMOCRAT closes my connection with this paper, and with it ceases, forever, my Editorial career.

I have sold the establishment to Capt. C.C. Danley, who will take charge of it immediately after the issuance of the present No., and who will be its future proprietor and conductor. In transferring the charge of the GAZETTE AND DEMOCRAT to Capt. Danley, I feel an assurance that it passes into hands that will be acceptable to my personal and political friends throughout the State. He has been a resident of Arkansas for more than twenty years, is well and favorably known to a large proportion of her leading citizens, is a sound and orthodox democrat -- from principle as well as practice -- is a gentleman of very respectable talents, and I take great pleasure in recommending him to my old friends and patrons as worthy of their confidence and patronage. Feeling assured that the new proprietor has the capacity as well as the will, to render the GAZETTE AND DEMOCRAT quite as useful and interesting to every class of its readers, as it has been at any time during its existence, I feel no compunctions in surrendering it to his charge and future management.

In this taking leave of my numerous friends and patrons in every part of the State, after having been engaged for more than thirty-three years, with but little intermission, in editorial life, the prospect of that repose befitting one at my time of life, does not overcome the pain of the separation. And in doing so, I beg leave to tender to them, one and all, the acknowledgements of a grateful heart, for the liberal patronage which has ever been bestowed on me. To my enemies -- political as well as personal -- I have no acknowledgements to make. That I have often erred in my judgment during so long an editorial career, is not improbable. I do not pretend to be free from the frailties of mankind. But that I ever intentionally injured any human being, without conscientiously believing I had just cause or grounds for the act, I utterly deny. And I have the proud satisfaction of knowing that I have never assailed any person through my columns, nor permitted others to do so, without giving the assailed party (when desired) ample space to be heard in his justification. And if I have at any time done injury to another, it has always afforded me more satisfaction to make reparation than to persist in the error I had unintentionally committed.

It is, I believe, very generally known, that the first sheet ever printed in the now flourishing State of Arkansas, was printed by the hands of the undersigned. At that early period, (Nov. 1819), but few of those whom I now address, inhabited this region, and a large proportion of them were not in existence. More than 33 years ago, I came to the then almost unknown and unexplored wilderness of Arkansas, a poor and friendless youth -- without acquaintance in the country -- with a small stock of old printing materials, which I had obtained on a credit, and, without waiting to ascertain whether sufficient patronage could be obtained to justify the undertaking, and without the assistance of even an apprentice, I proceeded to issue the first No. of the ARKANSAS GAZETTE; and I have the consolation to say, that it did not once fail to make its regular weekly appearance, from that time until I sold out the establishment in Dec. 1838, except during a short interval of four or five weeks, when the office was removed from the Post of Arkansas (the first seat of Government) to this place. When the first paper was issued, there were not 40 names on my subscription list. In a few months, it was swelled to about 150, and more than three years elapsed before it reached 300. My other patronage was on the same limited scale, and all barely sufficed to support me with the most rigid economy I could devise. -- But I was young, had been reared to habits of industry and frugality, and, blessed with health and buoyant spirits not easily depressed by adversity, I saw that the country was new, that it possessed incalculable advantages, and presented great inducements to men of enterprise. I DETERMINED TO SUCCEED in my undertaking -- I persevered under the most unfavorable and discouraging circumstances -- and I did succeed, far, very far, beyond the most sanguine expectations I had formed at the outset.

During nearly the first ten years, I had no competition, and during a great portion of that time, the patronage of the Gazette was but little more than sufficient to defray its ordinary expenses. -- Even up to 1829, its subscription list had only swelled to about 500, and its advertising and other custom had not increased in greater ratio. But then came competition, and with it came increase of patronage. From that time, its augmentation was steady and rapid, until my connection with it ceased in 1838, when it had a circulation of about 2,000. I remained unconnected with it till Dec. 1842, when the death of the individual into whose hands it had passed, rendered it necessary for me to take charge of it again, and I retained the charge of it until the winter of 1843-44, when I again sold out, with the expectation that no contingency could ever again induce me to take charge of that or any other newspaper establishment.

But in this expectation I was sorely disappointed, for, in the spring of 1846, a most unjust and unprovoked war was commenced against me, by the Banner, the only democratic paper printed in this city, and which, it is well known, was controlled by parties who (I hope I may be permitted to say, without the charge of egotism,) were under some obligations to me for the high positions they occupied in the State. For a short time I was suffered to reply to the weekly attacks that were made on me through that print. While that was permitted, I did not complain, for I felt competent to defend myself. But soon the columns of the Banner were closed against me, and I was left without a democratic medium through which to defend myself against the weekly vindictive assaults of my enemies. In this dilemma, I had to choose between two alternatives: to suffer ruin at the hands of my enemies, or to establish a press myself WHICH NO POWER ON EARTH COULD MUZZLE, and through which I could defend myself and friends against the unjust and unholy war which was waged against us. Accordingly, in May, 1846, I established the "ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT"-- and the election of that year, as well as those of several subsequent years, record the effect it produced in the State. About two years afterwards, I repurchased the GAZETTE office, and united both papers under the present title.

In taking a retrospective view of the rise and progress of this paper, for more than thirty-three years past, it is pleasing to notice that an equal improvement has taken place, during the same period, in the condition of Arkansas. When I first trod her soil, she had just emerged from the first grade of a Territorial existence -- had a thinly scattered population of not exceeding ten or twelve thousand souls --‚ without an avenue through her which deserved the name of a road -- with only an irregular monthly mail to the Post of Arkansas, (and that came by way of St. Louis, and seldom brought intelligence from the Atlantic cities in less than 60 and often 90 days), the balance of the Territory being destitute of mail facilities in any form-- and a solitary log cabin of the rudest form, marked the spot where now stands her flourishing Seat of Government. Such was Arkansas when she first became my home. She is now one of the proud members of the American Confederacy -- has a population of some 250,000 souls, intelligent and enterprising, alive to the value and importance of the preservation of the Union, and devotedly attached to the land of their adoption -- with tolerably good natural roads intersecting her in every direction, and a flattering prospect of having, in a few years, turnpikes and rail roads to facilitate the transportation of her staple productions to the great mart of the west, with an ultimate connection by rail road across her territory, with the Pacific coast -- and her mail facilities are extended to every settlement of note in the State, affording to all as speedy a channel of correspondence as could reasonably be expected in a country which is yet in her infancy.

Looking ahead upon the future, with an eye to what is past, the prospect brightens. Arkansas is yet in the infancy of her prosperity. Her mineral and other natural resources are yet to be developed, and her commerce and agriculture have but begun to flourish. Ere long the means of education will be diffused throughout every portion of the State, and knowledge will keep pace with the wealth which is sure to be the reward of a moral, industrious, and enterprising people.

In taking leave of my old friends and patrons-- and particularly of the few -- alas, very few! -- friends of my early career, who still survive -- my heart is touched with the tenderest feelings. To their unwavering confidence and support I owe my success in life, and if my paper has been the instrument of usefulness to my fellow-citizens, to them belongs the merit. To them I confide the GAZETTE AND DEMOCRAT, as a trust for the good of the people. It has, under their fostering care and protection, afforded me the means of retiring, while not yet much beyond the prime of life, to employments better suited to my taste and disposition. To see it linger for want of patronage, or from any cause whatever, would create in me the same pangs of regret that an affectionate parent would feel in witnessing the misfortunes of a favorite child. I ask for it, then, their continued patronage and support -- believing as I do, that my successor will merit it -- in the hope that it may always be the advocate of good order and subordination to the laws, and never become subservient to the cause of faction or misrule, nor the instrument in the hands of designing and profligate demagogues for their own personal aggrandizement at the expense of a confiding people.

And so, kind patrons and friends, I bid you an affectionate farewell: wishing you long life, with health and happiness to enjoy it, and prosperity in all your laudable undertakings; and hoping that you will long continue to bestow on the GAZETTE AND DEMOCRAT that liberal patronage which you have so long bestowed on

Your ever grateful friend,

WM. E. WOODRUFF.

Little Rock, March 18, 1853.

TO DELINQUENT SUBSCRIBERS AND PATRONS.

Having sold the GAZETTE AND DEMOCRAT establishment to Capt. Danley, it becomes necessary for me to call on all those indebted to me, for subscriptions, advertising, printing, &c., to settle up arrearages. The making out of these numerous bills, and the closing up of the long standing business of the GAZETTE AND DEMOCRAT establishment, will necessarily be a work of great labor, and must engross a large portion of my time, for several months, and the collection of the amount due me, will require a much longer period. I trust, however, that the indulgence which I have uniformly extended to my patrons will stimulate them to give me as little difficulty as possible in the collection of the small sums they respectively owe me, and that I may in no case be compelled to resort to the law to obtain my dues. My bills will be made out, and transmitted for collection without loss of time, but, in the meantime, I hope all those who know themselves indebted, will immediately remit the amount to me by mail, or any other safe conveyance; or they may remit to Capt. Danley, whose receipts for such indebtedness will be recognized by me.

WM. E. WOODRUFF.

--tf.

Little Rock, March 18, 1853.

A Section on 06/08/2019

Print Headline: Bonus from the past, 1853: William Woodruff's final farewell letter

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