Illinois Staats-Zeitung (Illinois State Newspaper) was one of the most well known German-language newspapers of the United States published in Chicago, Illinois from 1848 until 1922. Along with the Westliche Post and Anzeiger des Westens, both of St. Louis, it was one of the three most successful German-language newspapers in the United States Midwest.
Politically, the newspaper was Republican. Hermann Kriege was an early editor. In the 1850s, the paper was taken over by Forty-Eighters and became a major daily newspaper of the Chicago German-born community. In 1851, Georg Schneider joined the staff of the paper and became editor. Among his associates were George Hillgärtner and Daniel Hertel. Schneider played a major role in building the Republican Party in Illinois, a work in which the Illinois Staats-Zeitung played an important function.
The Illinois Staats-Zeitung opposed slavery, and Schneider successfully used the newspaper as a platform to campaign against the Kansas-Nebraska Act. On February 22, 1856 Schneider attended, on behalf of the Illinois Staats-Zeitung, a meeting in Decatur of anti-Nebraska newspapers in Illinois. In total 26 newspapers were represented at the meeting, assembled by the Morgan Journal editor Paul Selby.
Civil War period
During the Civil War years, Lorenz Brentano was proprietor and editor-in-chief, succeeding Schneider. In these years, the paper fully dominated German-language press in the city, as Democratic German-language newspapers were short-lived at the time. At this point, Illinois Staats-Zeitung was the second-largest daily newspaper in the Chicago.
In the years after the war, the Staats-Zeitung was published by Prussian immigrant Anton C. Hesing, a former Sheriff of Cook County who moved from partial ownership to complete ownership in 1867. A public figure and political boss of sorts, Hesing would use the pages of his paper for maximum political impact, helping to launch the pro-alcohol People's Party in 1873 and orchestrating the election of Harvey Doolittle Colvin as the 27th Mayor of Chicago. Hesing's independent political venture would fall into disrepute within a few years and the Staats-Zeitung returned to the Republican ranks.
Concurrent with Hesing's assumption of the paper's ownership in 1867, Hermann Raster accepted the position of editor — a position which he would retain until his death in 1891. Raster was the longest holder of this position. Wilhelm Rapp returned to the Staats-Zeitung in 1872, and became editor when Raster died.
Great Chicago Fire
The Staats-Zeitung was particularly hard hit during the October 1871 Great Chicago Fire. Not only was the building housing the publication, including its machinery and type, lost to the flames, but so too were back files of the paper and the publication's records of accounts. Moreover, virtually the entire staff of the paper from editors to press operators found themselves burned out of their homes.
Necessary lead type for producing a German-language paper proved impossible to obtain on short notice and as a temporary measure production was moved briefly to the German enclave of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After a mere 20 days production returned to a new press in a new facility in Chicago, the city in which the paper would remain for the rest of its existence, with an expansion of physical size following one month later.
A new permanent home for the paper was finally located about one mile away from the Chicago city center, in a new multi-story structure built at the corner of Washington Street and Fifth Avenue. The building measured 100 feet from the basement floor to the peak of the roof, making it one of the largest buildings in its area of town, and was designed with the monumental sensibilities of old Europe.
In November 1871 publisher Anton Hesing's son, Washington Hesing (1849-1897), an 1870 graduate of Yale College, finished a stint as a political appointee on the Chicago Board of Education and became actively connected with the Staats-Zeitung. The younger Hesing became Managing Editor of the Staats-Zeitung in April 1880, by which time he was a part owner of the publication.
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