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June 10, 1986

About The Historic
California Star Newspaper

The First West Coast Weekly Estab. in 1846
By Edward Davidian, Staff Business Writer

     SAN FRANCISCO - Today's national California Star Newspaper traces its conservative editorial policy originally established by early California pioneers, Sam Brannan and Orrin E. Smith. These men were leaders of the Mormon group from Illinois who were the first English speaking residents of Yerba Buena (San Francisco).
     The party arrived in San Francisco Bay aboard the ship Brooklyn on July 31th in the year 1846. The ship had carried the pioneers all the way from New York harbor, a journey of 24,000 miles.
     The site of the landing was near what is now the Hyde Street Pier close to an old Mexican Fort.
    Brannan brought with the pioneer party many advanced technological inventions never seen in early California. One if these advances was the portable Franklin printing press.
    Brannan intended to establish The California Star Newspaper as the first English newspaper on the Pacific Coast. With the assistance of Orrin Smith, Sam Jones, John Eager, and Ed Kimble they set-up and the Washington Press in a second-story loft & grist mill at Clay & Kearney strees.
     Brannan would later build his home at the corner of Washington & Stockton Street in early San Francisco which would ultimately become the social and cultural center with Anna Brannan presiding.
     On the the opening day of the California Star Newspaper, October 24, 1846 Brannan told his partners the mission of the new venture, "It shall be our purpose to invoke and defend the rights of all the people against oppresion, publish accurate information, and detect and expose tyranny." The Star and the printing business beacme an immediate success which is still owned and published by Smith's descendant, Thomas Hobbs.
     An early issue of the California Star was printed and distributed on October 24, 1846. That first issue consisted of four pages 13 x 18-inch size, with justified typesetting, locked up and placed on the press. Ink was applied by hand with a leather brayer. By locking up the forms and spinning the wheel, a threaded shaft lowered the press plate and squeezed the sheet of newsprint. Then it would be yanked from the Press, dried, folded and delivered.
     The first subscriptions of the Star were deliverd by hand on January 9, 1847. "There she is. The first Star in the West!" Brannan shouted on that early foggy morning. .
    The California Star newspaper was hawked on street corners in what is now San Francisco and was dispatched by ship in the earliest mail to the Eastern Seaboard and to the British Isles. Smith & Brannan told readers that California was a "haven of opportunity". Brannan opened a successful bank.
    After the discovery of gold in 1849 California Star became the voice of San Francisco and of the Pacific Coast. Largely through breaking the news of the gold strike to the world the California Star gained prominence throughout a world eager to learn.
    The gold strike caused a sudden population growth and wild prosperity in California. The size of the population increased twelve-fold in a single year.
     The Star, A thriving economic success, was temporarily halted on June 14, 1848, because the staff had rushed of to theSierra gold fields.

      [Editor's Note: See Chas. Dobie, San Francisco: A Pageant, pp.95-109. Appleton-Century Co., London, 1933. See the short story on Brannan in Two Dreams of California. Also of interest on Brannan and Power of Publicity is New Perspectives on the West. There is also an excellent of Brannan's ship passage on the Brooklyn in 1845-46.]

© Copyright 1846-2002 Graphics By The California Star Newspaper.
All rights reserved.

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