Historical New Hampshire, Volume 73, No. 1, Spring 2020
This issue of Historical New Hampshire features an article by Mike Pride, editor emeritus of the Concord Monitor, who writes of the 1861 newspaper riot in Concord that shook the city and raised questions about freedom of the press in wartime. The pro-southern Democratic Standard disparaged President Abraham Lincoln, belittled the efforts of Union troops on the battlefield, and emphasized the bonds that united white men, both North and South. In the aftermath of the First Battle of Bull Run, scores of Concord residents joined soldiers of the First NH Volunteer Infantry to form a mob that destroyed the newspaper’s office. John B. Palmer, the paper’s proprietor, brooded for the rest of his life over what he viewed as a gross violation of the principle of freedom of the press before committing suicide in a Concord boardinghouse. The Democratic Standard riot set off a wave of newspaper abatements in the North during the Civil War.
Also presented in this issue is the story of the tragic Willey slide, as Plymouth State’s Professor Marcia Schmidt Blaine explores the enduring power of the Willey family’s story of nine people who died in a landslide in the White Mountains in 1826. In a desperate and ultimately ill-judged attempt to escape the flood and landslide bearing down on them in the midst of a massive summer storm, the Willeys fled from their house in the middle of the night only to meet with disaster steps from their own front door. Ironically, their house survived intact, just as they had left it, and it became one of the first and most popular sites of disaster tourism in the country. As dreadful as the Willey slide was, it brought thousands of people to the White Mountains in the 19th century and added to the region’s allure of mystery, adventure, and danger while simultaneously highlighting the unparalleled beauty and power of nature.
Both articles are richly illustrated, including rare surviving copies of the August 8, 1861, issue of the Democratic Standard that touched off the riot, as well as illustrations of the Willey slide created by some of the foremost artists of the 19th century. Many of the images showcase items in the Society’s own collections.
Authors: Mike Pride and Marcia Schmidt Blaine
Editor: Elizabeth Dubrulle
Illustrations Editor: Joan Desmarais