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The New Orleans Daily Democrat

Orleans Parish

In 1876, Henry J. Hearsey (1810-1900), a well-known Louisiana journalist, was appointed by the state Democratic Party to edit its official organ, the New Orleans Democrat [LCCN: sn88064616], which by 1877 had become the New Orleans Daily Democrat. As editor, Hearsey contributed to the ending of carpetbag rule in Louisiana and criticized the Louisiana Lottery, a revenue-raising scheme widely regarded as a corrupting influence on state politics. In 1879, one of the Lottery’s supporters, State Treasurer Edward A. Burke (1839-1928), conspired to drive the Democrat into bankruptcy and then take control of it. Hearsey and Burke fought a bloodless duel in January 1880, but the latter retained control of the paper; Hearsey went on to found the Daily States [LCCN: sn83016714], one of the major New Orleans newspapers of its day.

The Daily Democrat’s focus was on state politics. Under Hearsey’s management, it was the official journal of the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana and as such published the proceedings of the state legislature, official government and judicial announcements, and news of elections. Miscellaneous local, national, and international news filled the rest of the four- to eight-page paper, together with market news and advertisements. A regular “amusements” column carried news of plays, operas, concerts, and public balls. The paper carried a small quantity of fiction and poetry.

The Daily Democrat’s title reverted to the New Orleans Democrat [LCCN: sn88064443] in 1880. The following year, Burke purchased the New Orleans Times [LCCN: sn83016550] and consolidated it with the Democrat to form the Times-Democrat [LCCN: sn83016709]. While in Honduras in 1889, he was indicted for embezzling up to two million dollars in Louisiana state funds, but because no extradition treaties existed between the United States and Honduras, he was able to remain there for the rest of his life.