The Nitty-Gritty in the Mess that Is History

by Will on October 13, 2010

When the news of the assassination of Lincoln reached San Francisco, a mob destroyed the newspaper plants of the Democratic Press, edited by Beriah Brown; the Occidental, edited by Zachary Montgomery; the News Letter, edited by F. Marriott, and the Monitor, a Catholic paper, edited by Thomas A. Brady. These were virulent copperhead sheets that had heaped abuse upon the martyred president. Had the proprietors of these journals been found the mob would, in the excitement that prevailed, have treated them with violence. After this demonstration Confederate sympathizers kept silent.

Quoted from page 210 of the History of the State of California and Biographical Record of Oakland and Environs, also Containing Biographies of Well-Known Citizens of the Past and Present, by J.M. McGuinn, published in 1908

To be very clear, I’m not applauding violence against vile press outlets. This incident is, though, a colorful little vignette of local history, which makes the San Francisco of 1965 seem of a piece with the city I know. And it’s illustrative of the way history often seems to play out.

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