The Representative

The Representative (St. Paul, Minn.) 1893-1901  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 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.”

Donnelly published the first weekly issue of the Representative in St. Paul on April 19, 1893; publication moved to Minneapolis in May 1894. This newspaper represented Donnelly’s views as president of the State Farmers' Alliance and functioned as a mouthpiece of the left-wing agrarian Populist (or People’s) Party. A notice on the front page of the inaugural issue stated that Donnelly would not have time to write more than one or two columns per week, and “[h]e will have nothing to do with the rest of the newspaper which will be under the charge of editor, A. L. Stoughton; nor will he be responsible for the utterances and opinions of anybody but himself.” Donnelly took over as editor-in-chief in February 1895. The Representative advocated for all the legislative efforts of the People’s Party, including government ownership of the railroads. Ironically, the paper took advertising for sale of railroad lands and was accused by Donnelly’s enemies of being in the pocket of railroad tycoon James J. Hill. Donnelly died January 1, 1901; the Representative continued publication through November 28, 1901, though it was suspended between June 21, 1901 and September 19, 1901.