June 10, 1986
About The Historic
California Star Newspaper
The First West Coast Weekly Estab. in 1846
By Edward Davidian, Staff Business Writer
SAN FRANCISCO - Today's
Star Newspaper traces its conservative editorial policy
originally established by early California pioneers, Sam
Brannan and Orrin E. Smith. These men were leaders of the Mormon
group from Illinois who were the first English speaking residents
of Yerba Buena (San Francisco).
The party arrived in San Francisco Bay
aboard the ship Brooklyn on July 31th in the year 1846.
The ship had carried the pioneers all the way from New York harbor,
a journey of 24,000 miles.
The site of the landing was near what is
now the Hyde Street Pier close to an old Mexican Fort.
Brannan brought with the pioneer party many
advanced technological inventions never seen in early California.
One if these advances was the portable Franklin printing press.
Brannan intended to establish The California
Star Newspaper as the first English newspaper on the Pacific Coast.
With the assistance of Orrin Smith, Sam Jones, John Eager, and Ed
Kimble they set-up and the Washington Press in a second-story
loft & grist mill at Clay & Kearney strees.
Brannan would later build his home at the
corner of Washington & Stockton Street in early San Francisco
which would ultimately become the social and cultural center with
Anna Brannan presiding.
On the the opening day of the California
Star Newspaper, October 24, 1846 Brannan told his partners the mission
of the new venture, "It shall be our purpose to invoke and
defend the rights of all the people against oppresion, publish accurate
information, and detect and expose tyranny." The Star and
the printing business beacme an immediate success which is still
owned and published by Smith's descendant, Thomas Hobbs.
An early issue of the California Star was
printed and distributed on October 24, 1846. That first issue consisted
of four pages 13 x 18-inch size, with justified typesetting, locked
up and placed on the press. Ink was applied by hand with a leather
brayer. By locking up the forms and spinning the wheel, a
threaded shaft lowered the press plate and squeezed the sheet of
newsprint. Then it would be yanked from the Press, dried, folded
The first subscriptions of the Star were
deliverd by hand on January 9, 1847. "There she is. The first
Star in the West!" Brannan shouted on that early foggy morning.
The California Star newspaper was
hawked on street corners in what is now San Francisco and
was dispatched by ship in the earliest mail to the Eastern Seaboard
and to the British Isles. Smith & Brannan told readers that California
was a "haven of opportunity". Brannan opened a successful bank.
After the discovery of gold in 1849
California Star became the voice of San Francisco and of the
Pacific Coast. Largely through breaking the news of the gold strike
to the world the California Star gained prominence throughout
a world eager to learn.
The gold strike caused a sudden population
growth and wild prosperity in California. The size of the population
increased twelve-fold in a single year.
The Star, A thriving economic success,
was temporarily halted on June 14, 1848, because the staff had rushed
of to theSierra gold fields.
See Chas. Dobie, San Francisco: A Pageant, pp.95-109. Appleton-Century
Co., London, 1933. See the short story on Brannan in Two
Dreams of California. Also of interest on Brannan and Power
of Publicity is New
Perspectives on the West. There is also an excellent of Brannan's
ship passage on the Brooklyn
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