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Why the Arizona Republic newspaper was originally called The Republican

If you live in Phoenix, you probably read the newspaper called The Arizona Republic. If you lived in Phoenix before the 1930s, it was called the Arizona Republican. If this puzzles you, it just has to do with the history of the Republican Party after the Civil War in the United States. As you can imagine, times have changed. Time-travel with me.

At the risk of over-simplification, the Democratic Party in the United States was established to protect States' rights, and the Republican Party was established to protect the power of the Federal Government. To throw it into stark historical relief, in the 1800s some states wanted to protect their right to have slavery, and the Federal Government disagreed. The party of Abraham Lincoln, the Republicans, were dedicated to preserving the Union of the United States, even if it took going to war against the Confederate states.

If you know your Arizona history, you know that the Territory of Arizona was Confederate during the Civil War. And there were a lot of reasons for this, not the least of which was the abandonment of the Federal troops from the territory when the Civil War began. Pioneers in Arizona had been left alone, with no military protection from hostile Indians. The Confederate Army stepped in to offer the protection that had been taken away at that time. So, as you can imagine, there were some hard feelings towards the Federal Government (the Republicans) for quite a while! However, the Federal Government had firmly re-established itself after the Civil War, and Arizona was anxious to rid itself of what had become the stigma of having been Confederate.

In the 1800s, the two newspapers in the Phoenix area that represented each side of the States' rights vs. the power of the Federal Government were the Gazette (Democratic - States' rights) and the Republican (Federal Power). By 1901, when Theodore Roosevelt stepped into the Presidency, the Republican Party was clearly what most Arizona wanted to align with. The Federal Government was pouring money into Land Reclamation. In 1911, the Roosevelt Dam (a Federal Project) was built on the Salt River, which continues to be the most important dam in Phoenix to this day.

The Democratic Party during the Presidency of Franklin Roosevelt changed everything. From that time on, it became the advocate of strong Federal Government, including things like the WPA (Works Progress Administration - which created jobs for the unemployed during the Great Depression). And so, quietly the Arizona Republican newspaper became the Arizona Republic.

Image above: The first issue of the Arizona Republican, Monday Morning, May 19th, 1890.

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  1. It's a nice story but doesn't quite cover it. The paper changed its name on November. 11, 1930. The previous day's editorial presaged the change by suggesting that the paper would spurn partisanship and strive to stay independent outside of its editorial pages.

  2. FDR started his term in 1933: the president at the time of the name change was Herbert Hoover—a Republican.

    Charles Stauffer took over as publisher from Dwight Heard in 1929 and he announced the purchase of the Gazette just seven days after the name change.

    Moreover, the Republic's editorial stance was staunchly Republican until the Gannett purchase

  3. My source for all that is Earl Zarbin's "All the Time a Newspaper."

    1. Hi - thanks for the comments! Yes, I totally agree with you. And yes, that's a great book, and is my most important reference for this kind of stuff. The attitude of the paper was, ultimately, progressive, so as the country shifting around a bit, the paper really did remain the same - all the time a newspaper.