January 28, 1841|
|Died||August 30, 1906
Edward Rosewater, born Edward Rosenwasser, (January 21, 1841 – August 30, 1906) was a Republican Party politician and newspaper editor in Omaha, Nebraska. Rosewater had a reputation for always being "aggressive and controversial", and was influential in Nebraska politics as one of the leaders of the state Republican Party.
Rosewater attended a commercial college, and then entered the telegraph with Western Union. He worked in Oberlin, Ohio in 1859 during the celebrated abolitionist cause célèbre, the Wellington rescue case. During that time Rosewater became closely associated with Simeon Bushnell and Charles Langston, leading Rosewater to immediately sign up for Union forces at the outbreak of the American Civil War. In the spring of 1862 he started serving with the United States Telegraph Corps, staying with General John C. Frémont throughout his West Virginia campaign.
Later Rosewater was attached to the staff of General John Pope, remaining with him until after the Second Battle of Bull Run. Afterwards he was stationed in Washington. While serving at the White House telegraph office, Rosewater was responsible for sending out President Abraham Lincoln's "Emancipation Proclamation" on January 1, 1863.
Arrival in Omaha
In the summer of 1863 when Rosewater came to Omaha, it was the terminus of the Pacific Telegraph Company. He was the Western Union manager and an Associated Press agent, and soon became the Omaha correspondent for several eastern daily newspapers. Rosewater married Leah Colman on November 13, 1864 in Cleveland, Ohio, departing after the wedding for Omaha, Nebraska where he had secured a home for his new bride.
In the fall of 1870 Rosewater was elected to the Nebraska Territorial Legislature, and the following year founded the Omaha Bee. While in the Legislature, Rosewater was credited with creating the first Omaha Board of Education. He was historically regarded as the father of Omaha Public Schools.
Under his guidance the Omaha Bee supported progressive ideas such as creation of a school board for the Omaha Public Schools and direct election of senators. But at the same time, Rosewater opposed women's suffrage. A period review of his writing style commented that he wrote "concise, pointed, and clear, and in political campaigns, especially, he is an untiring and dauntless fighter."
Rosewater served on the Republican National Committee in the late 19th century. In 1888 he built the Bee Building, a downtown landmark which was demolished in 1966. In 1897, at the behest of President McKinley, Rosewater came to Washington D. C. to head the U. S. delegatation at the Congress of the Universal Postal Union (the international body responsible for promoting efficiency in the flow of mail from country to country, tasked that year with securing cheaper international postage). This experience colored his work as an organizer for the 1898 Trans-Mississippi Exposition, for he prevailed on the Post Office to produce a special Trans-Mississippi Issue of nine stamps commemorating the Exposition, and was credited with much of the success of that event. Rosewater also ran two losing campaigns for a U.S. Senate seat in Nebraska. He died at the Omaha Bee building on August 30, 1906.
Rosewater constantly pursued his own version of news, and often got into violent confrontations, with one even being given front page treatment in the The Day's Doings, a sensationalist New York City journal. In another fight Rosewater was almost killed by a local worker after reporting on that man's secret love affair. Rosewater's style and treatment of the news left him open to constant criticism and attacks of his journalism, however, they also lent to personal attacks, more than one of which were anti-Semitic in their nature.
Immediately before his death, Rosewater was involved in founding the American Jewish Committee. After he died suddenly of natural causes, his son Victor Rosewater joined the AJC in his place. In 1957 CBS and the AJC produced a dramatic television show highlighting Rosewater's arrival in Omaha, his anti-slavery attitude and his journalistic style.
Edward Rosewater's newspaper reporting style led to the Omaha Bee being labeled an example of yellow journalism. Critics believed its sensationalized news contributed to tensions resulting in the Omaha Race Riot of 1919.
In 1910, Rosewater School in Omaha was built in Rosewater's honor.
- Bristow, D. (1997) A Dirty, Wicked Town: Tales of 19th Century Omaha. Caxton Press. p 93.
- (2001) Rosewater, Edward. Nebraska State Historical Society. Retrieved 6/22/07.
- (1888) Omaha Illustrated: A history of the pioneer period and the Omaha of today. Omaha: D.C. Dunbar & Co. Retrieved 6/24/07.
- Bristow, D. (1999) "Hard-Hitting Journalism." A Dirty Wicked Town: Tales of 19th Century Omaha.
- (nd) "Rosewater Family Papers". American Jewish Archives. Retrieved 6/24/07.
- "Chapter 5" Omaha's First Century. Special supplement to the Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved 9/3/07.
- (1888)  Omaha Illustrated: A history of the pioneer period and the Omaha of today. Omaha: D.C. Dunbar & Co. Retrieved 6/24/07.
- (nd) Nebraska Newspapers: Early Nebraska Journalists. University of Nebraska Libraries. Retrieved 6/24/07.
- (nd) Edward Rosewater. Nebraska Press Association. Retrieved 6/24/07.
- Pollack, N. (1962) "The Myth of Populist Anti-Semitism." The American Historical Review. 68(1) October, pp. 77.
- (nd) "American Jewish History and Jewish Culture." American Jewish Committee Archives. Retrieved 6/24/07.
- (1957) "Ready Mr. Rosewater?" Produced by CBS and AJC.
- (nd) "Yellow Journalism Spikes Tension." NebraskaStudies.org. Retrieved 12/15/10.
- Historic photo of Edward Rosewater.
- Rosewater Family papers at the Nebraska State Historical Society