Minnesota Pioneer

The Minnesota pioneer (St. Paul, Minn.) 1849-1855  Browse the title

The daily Minnesota pioneer (St. Paul, Minn.) 1854-1855  Browse the title

The weekly pioneer and Democrat (Saint Paul, Minn.) 1855-1865  Browse the title

The pioneer and democrat (St. Paul, Minn.) 1860-1862  Browse the title

The Minnesota Pioneer, credited as the first paper printed in the new Minnesota Territory, published its first weekly edition in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on April 28, 1849, under editor and publisher James Madison Goodhue. After Goodhue’s death in August 1852, his brother Isaac Goodhue edited the paper for a brief period. Joseph R. Brown became editor and publisher in February 1853, followed by Earle S. Goodrich in March 1854. On May 1, 1854, Goodrich brought out the first issue of the Daily Minnesota Pioneer. He continued to publish the weekly paper, which became a digest of the news appearing in the daily paper. On November 1, 1855 the papers merged with the rival weekly Minnesota Democrat and St. Paul Daily Democrat to become the Weekly Pioneer and Democrat and the Daily Pioneer and Democrat, with Goodrich remaining as editor of the combined titles.

The Minnesota Territory was created on March 3, 1849 and existed until Minnesota became a state on May 11, 1858. In 1850, the population of the Minnesota Territory was approximately 6,000 persons. By 1860, that number had increased to over 120,000. This run of newspapers therefore covers most of the years of the territory’s existence as well as the transition to statehood and the early years of that statehood.

As the first newspaper published in the territory, Goodhue’s Minnesota Pioneer initially concentrated on boosting the image of the territory as a place to which to immigrate. Other papers established during this period originally followed suit. As rivalries in the territorial legislature began to heat up, papers started to choose sides. On October 25, 1849, Goodhue declared that henceforth, the Minnesota Pioneer would represent the Democratic Party in Minnesota. The vitriol of Goodhue’s pen was legendary, and in 1851 led to an altercation between himself and the brother of a territorial judge excoriated in that day’s editorial, during which Goodhue was stabbed and the other man was shot. During the Brown editorship the paper was somewhat more subdued, but when Goodrich took over he began writing in the same spirit as Goodhue. Though they declared support for the Democratic Party in general, the attention of the Pioneer titles was primarily concentrated on the political aspirations of a few individuals, namely rival Democrats Henry H. Sibley and Henry M. Rice, both of whom financially supported the papers at various points.

During the Civil War, the Pioneer titles maintained their Democratic posture, which caused a fall in circulation as more and more readers gravitated to the Republican Party, and hence to the main rival Republican papers, the St. Paul Daily Press and the St. Paul Weekly Press. On November 10, 1865 Goodrich sold his papers, which had been renamed Saint Paul Pioneer and Saint Paul Weekly Pioneer, to John X. Davidson and Harlan P. Hall. Over the next nine years the newspapers were sold five more times and continued to lose both circulation and focus. Finally, on April 11, 1875, the daily and weekly Pioneer titles merged with the St. Paul Press titles to become the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, edited by James Wheelock. A successor title of the daily Saint Paul Pioneer Press continues in publication as of 2020.