Monday, May 11, 2009

May 1869: Return of Frank Baltzell's Marianna Courier

From the Tallahassee Sentinel of May 15, 1869:

SALUTATORY- The first number of the resuscitated Courier, published at Marianna, is before us, with the salutatory address of the Editor, from which we extract the following:
With this number we resume the publication of the Marianna Courier, suspended in December last.
It is customary on such an occasion to open with an elaborate editorial article setting forth the interests to which it will be devoted, the opinions to which it will adhere, the doctrines it will advocate, the political party it will support, and at the same time showing up the wants of expectant readers with a prospectus or bill of fare of the interesting articles to be introduced. But we will deviate from this honored custom, let our bastling speak for itself, and make our dissertation brief.
To advance the interests of Jackson county and West Florida, to have a local expositor of the opinions of the town and county, and to disseminate information important to the advancement of the farmer and mechanic are the objects to which the Courier aims it efforts.

Frank Baltzell was still a teenager when he joined his brother George A. as editor and publisher of the Courier newspaper which they had founded in 1866 with their father George F. Baltzell, the prominent jurist. An 1870 newspaper directory listed the Courier as consisting of four pages, appearing each Thursday, with a circulation of 850. It was described as the "only paper publshed in the five eastern counties of west Florida, where it has an extensive circulation and commanding influence" (The Men who Advertise, Geo. Rowell & Co., NY, 1870, p. 627).
Frank Baltzell had already gained reknown for his feats as a boy during the Battle of Marianna. A committed Democrat and opponent of Reconstruction policy, Baltzell soon gained attention for his caustic and eloquent editorials and became a favorite of Charles Dyke, editor of the Tallahassee Weekly Floridan, the state's leading Democratic newspaper. Baltzell can be blamed for inciting hatred of Hamilton and Purman, but his views apparently accurately reflected the opinion of most of Jackson County's white community towards the Bureau agents and their allies. Baltzell did not reserve his criticism solely for Republicans, but also attacked the young "chivalry" who failed, in his view, to adapt to the post-war situation through economic industry and initiative. As conditions deteriorated in Jackson County, however, Baltzell came increasingly to rationalize inexcusable offenses committed by local whites. Unfortunately, no intact copies of the Courier remain from the years that Frank edited the newspaper. Numerous extracts in other Florida papers, however, give a strong impression of Frank's powerful and influential, and sometimes irresponsible, writing style and opinions.