The Anti-Monopolist

The Anti-monopolist (St. Paul, Minn.) 1874-1878  Browse the title

Ignatius Donnelly came to Minnesota hoping to make a fortune in real-estate, a dream killed by the banking “Panic” of 1857. Donnelly quickly moved into politics, becoming lieutenant governor of the state under Alexander Ramsey and then a United States congressman and a Minnesota state legislator.  A born reformer, Donnelly’s public life centered on the left-leaning third parties and farm movements of the 19th century. He fought for legislation to curtail the worst excesses of the monopolies he viewed as harmful to workers and farmers. Over his life, Donnelly stood for office 17 times, withdrawing twice, winning six elections and suffering nine defeats.

Donnelly used newspapers to promote his ideas and his agenda and to increase his influence. His belief, as stated in his first issue of his newspaper the Representative, was that “In our present advanced civilization no large association of men can exist without a newspaper… No great reform can live without newspapers.”

On July 16, 1874 the first issue of the weekly Anti-Monopolist was published in St. Paul, Minnesota, after Donnelly tried and failed to get the state’s leading Democratic papers to explain clearly the progressive Anti-Monopoly party position. Indicative of Donnelly’s style, the motto of the new paper was “Speak to the Children of Israel, that They Go Forward.” A review of the Anti-Monopolist by another newspaper, the Litchfield News Ledger captured the flavor of Donnelly’s paper, stating that it was “as unlike other journals as Donnelly is unlike other men” and “… is as dangerous a plaything as a porcupine. It is always erudite, humorous, sarcastic and generally logical.” The newspaper spent its first months pushing the Grange (Patrons of Husbandry) to drop its opposition political activity. The Anti-Monopolist ran for four and one-half years until financial problems forced its closing with the December 12, 1878 issue.