Continuing the story of the Albany Morning Express, once the city’s premiere newspaper, in circulation, at least. In marking its 50th anniversary in 1897, the paper recounted some interesting points of its own history.
After its founding in 1847 by Alfred Stone and Edward Henly, the paper ran for five years with “varying success” before passing into the hands of Carlton Edwards in 1852. In 1856, the paper was suspended briefly, and then revived by Henry Stone, the brother of Alfred, along with Edward Henly.
Alfred Stone, in the meantime, hadn’t given up the business. He published the Albany Evening Times, along with David M. Barnes and Edward Boyd, with a gent by the name of “Governor” R.M. Griffin serving as editor-in-chief. Stone left the Times and bought the State Register. On Jan. 31, 1853, Henly and Jacob Cuyler issued the first Evening Transcript, from the Hoy building on Green Street. That paper was sold to men named Ells and Rooker; Rooker was later owner of the Press and Knickerbocker. Cuyler went to work on the Statesman, until the paper and its office were bought by Henry and Alfred Stone and Edward Henly, to revive the Express.
“On the morning of May 4, 1857, the Express, under the new management, was issued. Mr. Jacob C. Cuyler, installed as its editor. Fresh, vigorous editorials and columns teeming with news were the characteristics of the re-invigorated newspaper. It was then that the road which has led this paper on to success was taken. Since then the Express has gained in popularity and strength and has proven one of the indispensable institutions of Albany and vicinity…Under the able and enlivening pen of the late Mr. Cuyler, who, strangely enough, at the time when the fruit of his early efforts is bearing the ripening influences of a half century of honest cultivation, has passed away to a home of rest, the Express became a sturdy exponent of social and political purity and of unremitting enterprise.”
At that time, the Express was still a four-page, six-column paper, with a subscription list of 1600, at $4 a year. It went through a procession of owners and business managers, including George W. Hogoboom, Charles Emory Smith (later a minister to Russia), Addison Keyes, L.Z. Remington, N.D. Wendell, Walter F. Hurcomb, and S.N.D. North. The paper was published from the Express building at Green and Beaver streets until 1889. On Jan. 1 of that year, the plant and business “passed into the possession of Mr. William Barnes, jr., who at once organized the Albany Morning Express company, of which he was elected the president. When Mr. Barnes secured control of the Evening Journal and reorganized the business, the Morning Express was moved into the building Nos. 59 and 61 State street. There the two daily papers, the Evening Journal and the Morning Express are now published.”
The Express had been started with the goal of being impartial and independent, but along the way it had become political, even being named as the official state newspaper, a lucrative position.
“The policy of the paper has been for years that of uncompromising loyalty to the Republican party. In the election of 1857 its course was that of an independent paper, giving the several state tickets equal prominence at the head of its columns on the morning of election … The election of Gov. Morgan over Amasa J. Parker in the fall of 1858 was viewed in the light of a great Republican victory by the Express and gave to the editors of that paper the highest satisfaction … During the dark days of the rebellion the Express lifted its voice in no uncertain terms for the maintenance of the Union and the crushing out of secession. In the campaign of 1860 it supported the candidacy of Abraham Lincoln and ever afterwards has exerted its influence in behalf of good government and the supremacy of the nation on land and sea. It supported Grant in both campaigns in which he was a candidate. In 1876 it espoused the presidential aspirations of Roscoe Conkling but when the Republican convention had named Hayes and Wheeler the nominees of the party, the Express gave the party ticket that loyal support to which it was entitled from an avowed Republican paper.”
Under Barnes, it remained staunchly Republican, as that term was understood back then. In those days, impartiality and balance weren’t necessarily part of a newspaper’s objectives. In 1889, it was in the hands of Albany Academy and Harvard College graduate William Barnes, Jr., son of a prominent lawyer, grandson of Thurlow Weed. The papers became his political pulpit, and he became chairman of the Republican State Committee for several years – he was a model political boss of the times.
Despite all this celebration in 1897, the Express would only last under that name until 1899, when it was sold off to the Press and Knickerbocker.