Joseph Gales

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Joseph Gales, Jr. ca. 1844 by George Peter Alexander Healy (1813 - 1894)

Joseph Gales, Jr. (1786 – July 21, 1860) was an American journalist, born in Eckington, Derbyshire, England. His father, Joseph Gales, Sr. (1760–1841), was a printer in Sheffield, who was compelled to emigrate to America in 1795 because of his republican principles.


The son was educated at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, followed the trade of his father, and in 1807 settled in Washington, where he became the assistant and partner of Samuel Harrison Smith in the publication of the National Intelligencer. In 1810 Gales became sole proprietor of the journal and made it a triweekly publication, and in 1813, having previously formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, William Winston Seaton, the paper was issued daily and so continued until 1867 (after the deaths of both publishers).


For many years Gales and Seaton were the official printers to Congress, and the files of the National Intelligencer, containing a running account of the debates in both Houses, are one of the most valuable sources of United States congressional history for more than a quarter of a century. Under the title of Annals of Congress, Gales and Seaton published (1834–56, in 42 volumes) the debates in Congress from 1798 to 1824, together with the more important documents and laws, and under the title of Register of Debates in Congress (29 volumes) continued the publication in similar form to cover the years (1824–37). Gales was long the sole reporter on the U.S. Senate.[1]


During the 1820s, Gales was a member of the prestigious society, Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences, who counted among their members former presidents Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams and many prominent men of the day, including well-known representatives of the military, government service, medical and other professions.[2]

Mayor of Washington[edit]

Gales was elected Washington Alderman in 1814. In 1827 the city council elected him to fill out the term of the resigning Roger C. Weightman. He was then elected to his own two-year term in 1828. As mayor, he broke ground on the District of Columbia's C&O Canal. He also established relief committees for the poor and dispossessed of Washington.[3]

Later life[edit]

Gales died in 1860 and was buried in Congressional Cemetery.


Political offices
Preceded by
Roger C. Weightman
Mayor of Washington, D.C.
Succeeded by
John P. Van Ness