Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Bowles, Samuel

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

BOWLES, Samuel, journalist, b. in Springfield, Mass., 9 Feb., 1826; d. there, 16 Jan., 1878. His education was of the usual public-school character, and, after some time spent at the high school, was finished at the private institution of George Eaton, in Springfield. At the age of seventeen years he began his work in the printing-office of the Springfield “Republican,” a weekly paper, which his father had established in 1824, and of which he was the proprietor. For a year his work consisted in the miscellaneous duties of office-boy, and included everything except the writing of leading editorials. In 1844 he persuaded his father to publish the paper daily, and on 27 March of that year the first daily issue appeared. The principal duties of the management of the new journal fell on young Bowles, but early as the winter of 1844-'5 his health gave out, and he was obliged to spend some time in the south. A series of fifteen letters, descriptive of southern experiences, contributed to the paper at this time, were widely read. In December, 1845, the “Republican” became a morning paper, and with the change followed the severe night-work for the editors. The father meanwhile devoted more attention to the counting-room, and the son occupied himself more exclusively with the editorial duties, in which he was ably assisted by Dr. J. G. Holland, who continued with the paper as editor until 1857, and as a contributor until 1864. By 1850 the “Republican” had acquired the largest circulation of any daily paper in New England, outside of Boston, and as fast as the money came in it was expended in increasing the plant. In 1851 the father died, and the entire management devolved on the young Bowles, who was then twenty-five years old. During the years that followed the time was occupied with incessant work and hard struggles. The paper was steadily growing in reputation and circulation, and its editor becoming known as an industrious, bold, and fearless journalist. He was frequently in opposition to public sentiment. During 1856 he supported Frémont for the presidency, and early in 1857 he accepted the editorship of the Boston “Traveller,” with which he continued for but a few months. In the autumn of 1857, after a brief rest, he returned to Springfield, and, buying Dr. Holland's interest, resumed editorial control of the “Republican.” From 1857 till 1865 the influence of Mr. Bowles made itself felt, not only during the warm political discussions of Buchanan's administration, but also during the civil war itself, when his journal had acquired a national reputation. In 1865 he made a journey to the Pacific coast with a large company, and in 1868 travelled as far as Colorado. In 1869 he again crossed the continent. He visited Europe in 1862, and again in 1870, 1871, and 1874; indeed, frequent trips were a necessity to him on account of ill health, his constitution having long since been impaired by over-work. In 1872 the “Republican” supported Mr. Greeley in his campaign for the presidency, and it has since continued independent in politics. Mr. Bowles's letters, sent to the paper during his western trips, were collected and published under the titles of “Across the Continent” (Springfield, 1865) and “The Switzerland of America” (1869). These were afterward condensed and sold by subscription as “Our New West” (Hartford, 1869). “The Pacific Railroad Open, How to Go, What to See,” was a small collection of papers that originally appeared in the “Atlantic Monthly” (Boston, 1869). See “The Life and Times of Samuel Bowles,” by George S. Merriam (New York, 1885).