July 8, 1889: The First Issue of ‘The Wall Street Journal’ Is Published

July 8, 1889: The First Issue of ‘The Wall Street Journal’ Is Published

July 8, 1889: The First Issue of ‘The Wall Street Journal’ Is Published

What makes it a “fascinating organ”?

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The Wall Street Journal began publishing on this day 126 years ago, as a sort of news tip-sheet for traders in New York City’s stock exchanges. When an anthology from its pages was published in 1960, The Nation assigned it to one Edward W. Ziegler, a former “newspaperman,” the bio line read, and then an editor at McGraw-Hill. He described the Journal as follows:

Business began as a reaction to boredom. Although an invention of distraction, it has now grown so important that most of this nation heartily endorses its ethic as our raison d’etre. Conventional American judgment rejects any suggestion that there is something radically amiss in our headlong pursuit of profit. Still there are those who can only exclaim at the unprecedented frivolity of it all. For business, say what you will, remains a means—to an end that Americans prefer to leave ill-defined. Minute, ethereal and fleeting hints that The Wall Street Journal may entertain similar thoughts make that paper a fascinating organ. Or perhaps one sees in it what one yearns to see. The bulk of the evidence points the other way: the loving, tender—even sentimental—vignettes of American businessmen and consumers impelling their persons, their talents, their hopes and their capital with frightening constancy toward some transitory and probably worthless goal. The newcomer to the Journal, or to this anthology from its pages, cannot expect the paper to be predictable except in these particulars: It makes business look like pleasure, it is against big government, big taxes and big labor; it is for the Individual—particularly if he pays his bills; it is for Eggheads; and it is for the simpler life of the farm (particularly if it is a farm that refuses government subsidy). It is also for business (big, small, or indeterminate) and capital.

July 8, 1889 by TheNationMagazine

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