Robert Ewing (newspaper publisher)

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Robert W. Ewing, I
Robert Ewing 1914.jpg
Born(1859-09-27)September 27, 1859
DiedApril 27, 1931(1931-04-27) (aged 71)
OccupationEditor and publisher of the Shreveport Times and the Monroe News-Star from 1931 to 1952; owner of Shreveport radio station KWKH
Political partyDemocrat
Spouse(s)(1) May Dunbrack of Nova Scotia (married 1883-1904, her death); (2) Grace Nolan Mackay of Kansas City, Missouri (married 1917-his death)
ChildrenJames Lindsay Ewing, II

John Dunbrack Ewing
Toulmin H. Ewing
Robert W. Ewing, II
Esther Ewing

Wilson Ewing
Parent(s)James Lindsay Ewing
Martha Hunter Ewing Lindsay
RelativesRobert W. Ewing, III (grandson)
Ewing was Louisiana's most politically connected newspaperman, allied with William Jennings Bryan and Woodrow Wilson but later broke with Huey Pierce Long, Jr.

Robert Wilson Ewing, I, also known as Colonel Ewing (September 27, 1859 – April 27, 1931), was a prominent newspaper journalist, editor, and publisher and political figure, primarily in Louisiana, in the last two decades of the 19th century and the first third of the 20th century.

Ewing was born in Mobile, Alabama, to James Lindsay Ewing, a cotton merchant, and the former Martha Hunter. At the age of thirteen, he was a messenger for the Western Union Telegraph Company. At seventeen, he was a telegrapher for the Associated Press. In 1879, he helped establish and managed the Mobile division of the Union Telegraph Company. After he joined a strike of the Order of Telegraphers union, Ewing was blacklisted in Mobile. He therefore relocated to New Orleans, where he managed the former Morning Chronicle, a journal owned by the conservative Democrat Henry J. Hearsey, who also published the New Orleans Daily States.

In 1888, Ewing became affiliated with the reform, anti-machine faction of city politics. He served in the administration of Mayor William Shakespeare as an innovative city electrician and superintendent of the police telegraphy and fire-alarm systems. He also served for a time as the New Orleans municipal tax collector.

Under Hearsey's tutelage, Ewing was also telegraph editor, circulation and business manager, and editor and proprietor of the Daily States, later the defunct States-Item. He was furthermore nationally prominent in the AP, having served two terms as vice president of the organization.

In 1908, Ewing, while still the publisher of the defunct Daily States, purchased the still operating Shreveport Times. In the latter 1920s, he bought the two newspapers in Monroe: the defunct Morning World and the remaining Monroe News Star, since switched to morning publication. He was hence among the two or three most influential persons in the Louisiana journalism community.

In 1898, Ewing was elected to the Louisiana Constitutional Convention held that year. He was backed by the New Orleans Regular Democrats. He thereafter worked to organize the Choctaw Club, which opponents claimed was a political machine that sought to dominate state politics until 1920. Ewing's political influence was such that he was the Louisiana Democratic national committeeman from 1908 to 1930. In 1908, Ewing was a manager of the third failed presidential campaign of former U.S. Representative William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska.

Like the rice broker Edward M. House in Houston, Ewing claimed to have been particularly influential in securing the Democratic nomination in 1912 for then Governor Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey, a part of the progressive movement. Ewing was a Louisiana delegate to the Democratic convention that nominated Wilson on the 46th ballot. House and Wilson both wore the honorary title of "Colonel". (Bryan was Wilson's secretary of state from 1913 to 1915, and House was Wilson's chief advisor from 1913 to 1919.)

After Wilson's election as president with a plurality of popular votes, Ewing was a powerful political figure in the state. He spoke for contradictory interests: (1) the New Freedom political reforms and (2) the conservative planters and machine politicians.

In 1928, Ewing broke with the Regular Democrats of New Orleans to support Huey Pierce Long, Jr., for governor. His relationship with the Louisiana "Kingfish" was a stormy one. Ewing supported Long's impeachment by the Louisiana House of Representatives. Long, however, was not convicted by the Louisiana state Senate and finished his one term as governor, even having unseated U.S. Senator Joseph Ransdell as well. Long accused Ewing of having attempted and failed to dictate Long's policies.[1]

Ewing was twice married. In 1883, he wed the former May Dunbrack of Nova Scotia, Canada. She died in 1904. In 1917, after thirteen years as a widower, Ewing wed the former Grace Nolan Mackay of Kansas City, Missouri. He had five sons and one daughter: James Lindsay Ewing, II, John Dunbrack Ewing (1892–1952), Toulmin H. Ewing, Robert W. Ewing, II, Esther Ewing, and Wilson Ewing, named for Ewing's presidential favorite. Wilson Ewing's son was Robert W. Ewing, III, a member of the Monroe News-Star board of directors and a nature photographer.

On Ewing's death, second son John D. Ewing became publisher of the Shreveport and Monroe newspapers and held those positions until his own death.


  1. ^ Huey Pierce Long, Jr., Every Man a King: The Autobiography of Huey P. Long (New Orleans: National Book Club, Inc., 1933), p. 156.

"Robert Ewing", A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, Vol. 1 (1988), pp. 292–293.

Margaret Martin, "Colonel Robert W. Ewing: Louisiana Journalist and Politician," (Master's thesis, 1964, Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge.

T. Harry Williams, Huey Long (1969).

the New York Times, "Col. Robert Ewing, Publisher, Dead", April 28, 1931.