Ohio History Journal

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John Bailhache:

John Bailhache:

A British Editor in Early Ohio






THE WESTERN PRESS was one of the chief formative influences

upon public opinion in early ninteenth-century Ohio. Cut off by

time and distance from eastern standards and eastern inhibitions, it

might apprise its readers of the imminent threat of British in-

terests in the Old Northwest, and at the same time vigorously

promote regional or sectional interests or gleefully involve itself

in internecine warfare with other newspapers in the state. The

hand of a temperate editor was usually the only force to see to it

that freedom of the press was accompanied by a degree of sober


Some editors were flamboyant in their exercise of editorial pre-

rogatives and have been entertaining as well as useful sources for

the study of public issues of their day. Charles Hammond of the

Cincinnati Gazette and James Wilson of the Steubenville Gazette,

the grandfather of President Wilson, indulged their partisan feel-

ings to the limit and hurled great columns of invective at their

political enemies.1 Other editors eschewed controversy and im-

mersed themselves in the anonymity of patient reproduction of

correspondents' dispatches with a minimum of commentary.

John Bailhache, a contemporary of Charles Hammond and

James Wilson, was seldom moved to their extravagance of edi-

torial utterance, but his career in the Chillicothe and Columbus

press was marked by a clear and elevated conception of the role

of the press and its responsibility. His activities also provide some

glimpses of the intellectual life of the first generation in Ohio.


* William L. Fisk is chairman of the department of history at Muskingum College.

1 See F. P. Weisenburger, "A Life of Charles Hammond," Ohio Archaeological

and Historical Quarterly, XLIII (1934), 337-427.