About This Event
History of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
The Arkansas Gazette was founded by William E. Woodruff in 1819 at Arkansas Post and moved to Little Rock two years later. In 1878, the Arkansas Democrat was born during the turbulent politics of the post-Civil War South.
The two papers dominated the newspaper landscape of Arkansas for more than a century and today thrive as one -- the oldest continuously published newspaper west of the Mississippi.
The Arkansas Democrat went through multiple names and owners before Col. J.N. Smithee acquired the newspaper, naming it the Arkansas Democrat.
He immediately launched an attack upon the Gazette over the issue of the repudiation of the state debt. The Gazette struck back, implying that the name Democrat was merely a cover for a resurgent Republican Party.
In September 1878, former Arkansas Gazette editor James Mitchell and his partner Gen. W.D. Blocher, former owner of the Gazette, bought the Democrat from Smithee.
After James Mitchell died in 1902, the ownership of the Democrat changed hands three times until 1926 when K. August Engel acquired a major interest. In 1930 he acquired the YMCA building at Capitol Avenue and Scott Street and turned it into a modern newspaper plant. He died Jan. 8, 1968.
In 1902, the Gazette Publishing Co. was reorganized and John Netherland Heiskell became president and editor-in-chief, positions he would hold until his death in 1972.
The Gazette took a strong editorial stand against Gov. Orval E. Faubus' attempts to prevent integration of Central High School. The Gazette was awarded two Pulitzer Prizes in 1958 -- one for meritorious public service and the other to its executive editor, Harry Ashmore, for editorial writing.
Marcus George and C.S. Berry sold the Democrat to the Palmer group in 1974, headed by Walter E. Hussman. His son, 27-year-old Walter E. Hussman Jr., became the Democrat's new publisher.
The Democrat switched to all-morning publication in 1979, publishing its last evening edition Oct. 7.
The Heiskell-Patterson family sold the Arkansas Gazette to Gannett on Dec. 1, 1986.
WEHCO Media Inc., parent company of the Arkansas Democrat, was the largest media company in Arkansas. But Gannett was the largest in the country.
After years of increasing financial losses with the Gazette, Gannett closed the paper after publishing a final edition Oct. 18, 1991.
Later that day the Democrat purchased all the assets, including the subscription list of the Gazette, and renamed the combined newspaper the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.