William Coleman (editor)

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For other people named William Coleman, see William Coleman (disambiguation).
William Coleman
Born Feb 14, 1766[1]
Died July 13, 1829(1829-07-13) (aged 63)
Occupation Newspaper editor
Nationality American

William Coleman (February 14, 1766 – July 13, 1829) was the first editor of The New York Evening Post (today known as the New York Post), chosen by founder Alexander Hamilton.[2]

Background[edit]

Coleman was born in Boston, Massachusetts on February 14, 1766. He studied law and was admitted to the bar, and moved to Greenfield, Massachusetts. He moved to New York around 1794 and practiced law at one point with Aaron Burr.[1]

In 1801, he began The New York Evening Post, and he served as editor of the paper from 1801-29.[3][4]

Duels and other run-ins[edit]

In early 1804, Coleman killed New York harbormaster Captain Johnson in a duel.[5][6] The duel took place at "Love Lane", the path of which is now Twenty-First Street in Manhattan between Sixth and Eighth Avenues.[5]

The duel arose from a dispute between Coleman and James Cheetham (1772–1810), editor of the rival New York paper American Citizen. When Cheetham claimed that Coleman was the father of a mulatto child, Coleman challenged Cheetham to a duel.[5] The duel did not occur however, because others intervened to stop it including Judge Brockholst Livingston.[7] Thereafter, Thompson, a friend of Cheetham, claimed that the duel had only been stopped because Coleman had revealed it publicly before it had occurred, because he was a coward. Coleman thereupon challenged Thompson to a duel. On the appointed evening it was quite dark, and the parties reportedly had to approach a few steps closer after taking initial shots, in order to see each other. At that point, Thompson was shot and was claimed to have exclaimed "I've got it" as he fell into the snow. A physician who had been brought to the scene confirmed it was a mortal wound, and Thompson was left at the entrance of his sister's residence, and those involved rang the bell and quickly left. Thompson refused to reveal Coleman's name or any other details, and simply said that he had been treated fairly. The details of the duel were not revealed for many years.[5][6][7][8] After the event however, Cheetham was more careful in his editorial treatment of Coleman.[6]

Later that same year, Coleman's friend Alexander Hamilton was killed by Aaron Burr in perhaps the most famous duel in U.S. history. Coleman compiled a book of materials regarding the duel and Hamilton's death.[9][10]

In 1819, after publishing a highly negative story about prominent state official and Democrat Henry B. Hagerman, Coleman was viciously attacked by Hagerman and left bleeding in the street.[11] It took many weeks for Coleman to recover from the beating, and he suffered from bouts of paralysis for the remainder of his life.[11][12] Coleman later recovered $4,000 in a civil suit against Hagerman, considered a large award for the time.[12]

Death[edit]

Coleman died of a stroke on July 13, 1829, and was succeeded at the Post by William Cullen Bryant.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Davis, William Thomas. Bench and bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Volume 1, p.553 (1895)
  2. ^ William Coleman, New-York Historical Society (alexanderhamiltonexhibition.org) (2004), Retrieved October 21, 2010
  3. ^ The Evening post hundredth anniversary, p.9-25 (1902) (from essay by William Cullen Bryant)
  4. ^ Bryant, William Cullen. Reminiscences of the Evening post (1851)
  5. ^ a b c d Chamberlain, Ryan. Pistols, politics and the press: dueling in 19th century American journalism, p.73 (2008) (ISBN 978-0786438297)
  6. ^ a b c Fleming, Thomas J. Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the future of America, p.57-58 (2000) (ISBN 978-0465017379)
  7. ^ a b Lamb, Martha J. & Harrison, Burton. History of the city of New York: its origin, rise and progress, Volume 3, p.479-80 (1896)
  8. ^ Sabine, Lorenzo. Notes on duels and duelling, p.294 (1855)
  9. ^ A collection of the facts and documents, relative to the death of Major General Alexander Hamilton (1804)
  10. ^ A collection of the facts and documents, relative to the death of Major General Alexander Hamilton (1904) (reprint of Coleman's collection 100 year later, with preface stating that Coleman "desired to make a permanent memorial of the circumstances which led to the duel, the details of the affair itself, and the various eulogies ...")
  11. ^ a b c Muller, Gilbert H. William Cullen Bryant: author of America, pp. 61-62, 82 (2008) (ISBN 978-0791474679)
  12. ^ a b Nevins, Allan. The Evening post: a century of journalism, p.48-49 (1922)