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The Advocate newspaper

Posted by Benjamin Epps on Dec 19, 2012

Search the Advocate newspaper and its variants from 1889-1899 on Chronicling America.

The Advocate began on August 10, 1889, and became the official organ of the Kansas Farmers’ Alliance with the motto “Devoted to the Interests of the Farmer’s Alliance and Industrial Union and Other Kindred Organizations.”  It later served as the leading paper of the People’s Party in the state, with phenomenal circulation and commanding influence.  The Advocate became the conscience and inspiration of Kansas Populism.  Regarding many of the political issues of the time in Kansas, readers would say: “We don’t know what to think about this or that; we will wait until the Advocate comes.  Doctor McLallin will give us the truth” (a memoir of McLallin by Annie L. Diggs in Transactions of the Kansas State Historical Society, 1897-1900).  

 Stephen McLallin had practiced for nearly two decades as a physician when he took editorial charge of the Meriden Report, which he renamed the Advocate in 1889.  The first twenty issues of the Advocate ran until December 20, 1889, when the newspaper outgrew its Meriden facilities and moved to Topeka.  McLallin was one of the founders of the National Reform Press Association, and for a time was its president as well as president of the Kansas Reform Press Association.  In 1890 the Populist orator and reformer Annie Leporte Diggs joined the paper as associate editor.  The People’s Party, which had arisen out of the Farmer’s Alliance movement, gave voice the political needs of farmers and common citizens.  Populists believed that the government was operating only in the interests of the economic elite.   On July 27, 1892, “as the result of a matrimonial transaction in journalism,” the Advocate and another Populist paper, the Topeka Tribune, merged to reduce publication costs.  The efforts of the renamed Advocate and Topeka Tribune continued in the direction of political reform and in the interests of the People’s Party.  On January 17, 1894, the paper resumed its original title of the Advocate.  McLallin continued to edit the Advocate until about a year before he died on March 4, 1897.  By then, the paper was under the direction of William Alfred Peffer, the first Populist U.S. Senator.  Peffer had been chairman of the national conference that organized the People’s Party and served as president of the National Reform Press Association.  He was an important reformer to the extent that Populism was sometimes referred to as “Pefferism.”

 In 1897, the Advocate and News merged with another Topeka paper, George B. Harrison’s Kansas News, and ran as the Advocate and News.  It continued until 1899 when the title changed to the Farmer’s Advocate under the same editors and publishers.

 

 Search the Advocate newspaper and its variants from 1889-1899 on Chronicling America.


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