Sunday, October 6, 2013

Edward Little Davenport--his life and work

By Melissa Davenport Berry This page under construction Please be patient! :)

My Great Grandfather Edward Little Davenport Part of my article published in the Ipswich Chronicle
see also Article

Edward Little Davenport---clever, industrious, and a motivator for change-progressive. He was an advocate for social and economic reform, a New England Charles Dickens--printers like Davenport were devoted to administering justice for the less fortunate. His participation in the Reform was an ongoing life journey---from small town politics, civil war soldier abolitionist, country newspaper editor, to a compelling testimonial witness in Congressional hearings. During the time of the Union occupation of New Bern, North Carolina Davenport and other newsworthy enthusiasts who where enlisted in the Massachusetts regiments started a daily newspaper The Yankee Printer a “most auspicious enterprise in spreading freedom for all.” The Yankee Printer was Davenport’s first publishing business---E. L. Davenport & Co. Next, the Ipswich Chronicle and before his death Davenport gave testimony for the labor party in the Congressional Committee hearings on Education and Labor. In these hearings Davenport asserted the need for amending the social and economic injustices concerning workers, children, and women’s right for equal pay.

The rise of industrialization, big business and rapid growth in production in the New England towns were weighing heavy on the less privileged. Working conditions were horrific and women and children were exploited. Laborers worked 60 hours a week for a meager 20 cents an hour with no fringe benefits. Outside of work conditions were just as dismal and many lived in over crowded slums. Children were not educated, but were forced to work to supplement family income.

Edward Little Davenport--Born March 17, 1838 in Newburyport ---son of Anthony Davenport, Jr. and Sarah Jackson Little. Edwards father, a native of Newburyport, was a silversmith, watch- and clockmaker, and a maker of mathematical and nautical instruments. Below is one instrument at the Smithsonian The Davenports owned a jewelry store front in Newburyport and a nautical shop in Portland, Maine At the Sign of the Quadrant and Compass.

The Davenport family where immersed in local politics and business. Moses Davenport was mayor of Newburyport in 1854 and served two terms. In addition, he owned ships with his brother Anthony and President of the Mechanics Bank.
Moses Davenport

Edwards grandfather Anthony Davenport, Sr., a maritime entrepreneur who owned several ships and a wharf in Newburyport married to Catherine Greenleaf.‎

Captain William Davenport proprietor of the famous Wolfe Tavern in Newburyport married to Sarah Gerrish. James Davenport--three wives Grace Tileston, Sarah Franklin (Ben Franklin's sister) and Mary Walker (a descendent of Richard Davenport and Elizabeth Hawthorne) James was Senior Warden of the Continental Army--his discharge was signed with Gen. Washington's own hand--owned and operated Kings Head Tavern and Inn, Globe Tavern, and A Bunch of Grapes in Boston. James had 22 children and occupations from constable to coroner of Boston. He sold his first home to Hancock

Davenport Tileston House Dorchester MA

On September 3 1863 Edward married an Ipswich native Sophronia Angelina Cross daughter of Captain John Dudley Cross and Lydia Caldwell Lord. Captain Cross was the Selectman in Ipswich and Keeper of the House of Correction for Essex County. Edward and Sophronia had six children. Two of their sons graduated from Harvard College and went on to publish in their leisure as well.

Edward L Davenport & Sophronia A Cross

Edward learned the printers trade in his early twenties he was foreman in the composing room at the Daily Evening Union published by the founder of the Newburyport Herald. Davenport worked diligently at his craft and actively participated in community affairs. Around 1859 he went to Philadelphia to work at a local newspaper in the editing department. The War Between the States broke out and he enlisted in the Scott Zonaves for three months. He was at the capture of Harpers Ferry where he was discharged. Edward returned to Newburyport and enlisted in the 23rd Regiment Massachusetts Infantry. He was appointed First Sergeant of his company and was sent to North Carolina.

  In New Bern, North Carolina Davenport and fellow regiment companies started a weekly newspaper The Yankee Printer. He will record this event later in The Ipswich Chronicle: "Saturday morning (the day after the battle), in company with other soldiers, the writer left camp on a foraging expedition. Several deserted houses were visited, in some of which a supply of native wines was found. But we were in search of a printing-office and soon were on the right track. The door was wide open and we entered but the printers were gone. One or two soldiers were in the room searching for relics. The floor was covered with papers. One press was taken to pieces, ready to move. The balance-wheel had been taken off the small press, a Gordon. There were two pages of matter, set and locked up, which we soon had on the press. On the second impression the press tumbled down. Not to be foiled by this, we covered a planer with a piece of cloth and with that and a mallet we pounded off something like a hundred copies of the paper. At this time, a boy, who haxl worked on the press, coming in, helped me set up the press again and we pulled off the first edition.

This edition was that already set up except a triumphant comment on the following paragraph.

"The signais on the Neuse river, below our batteries, gave notice of the approach of the enemy yesterday afternoon about five o'clock. A boat was immediately sent down the river, and, on its return, we were placed in positive information of the presence often steamers and one large transport (schooner) in the river, only twelve miles below New Berne, and in a few miles of the blockade. Everything was active, and preparations were busy here last night, and a battle is expected to-day and the day will probably decide the fate of New Berne."

The comment was, "Friday did it! We have taken New Beme. The enemy undertook to burn the town but were unsuccessful. "We come before the people of North-Carolina an earnest advocate of that glorious Union which her patriotic ancestry so nobly aided to cement and establish. The Progress has been heretofore one of the most virulent and bitter opposers to the Government in the South, and its former proprietor, not satiated with treason already committed, has filled his cup of bitterness by openly taking up arms against the Union which so long fostered and nourished him.”    Yankee Printer."

New Bern Office

The Yankee Printer New Bern Daily Progress was a successful enterprise and made some profit. The Masthead motto of the first edition: ”Liberty and Union - Now and Forever - One and Inseparable.” The contents were spiced with necessary ingredients of Yankee persuasion and slithers of meaty amusement offering diversities for the boys in blue. Davenport never flinched from angering the local confederate loyalist asserting his social and political commentary. Reports of lynching and rebel indiscretions streamed the pages and recently passed U.S. laws, including acts to provide trials for minor offenses and to incorporate homes for women and children. An article by Davenport entitled ”The Doomed City” describes events in Virginia and details the state’s transgressions, including its endorsement of the massacre of colored troops at Fort Pillow.

The staff who worked on this great effort utilized this experience to manifest future careers. Benjamin F. Arrington printed The Beverly Citizen and The Municipal History of Essex County, George Mills Joy stayed with newspaper and named it the North Carolina Times. John Gray became chairman of History Commission and was board member of the W. Ware & Publishers Co. in Boston, Ma. Corp John D Parsons returned to his trade in Newburyport and was one of the oldest printers in the city. He was made City Messenger in 1868. His diaries and journals were a great contribution and were later used by many historians. William E Murdock owner of Sampson & Murdock started the Boston Printers Association.

Davenport was wounded by a shot in Drewery's Bluff May 16, 1864 and discharged. Returning to Massachusetts he started the Ipswich Chronicle with fellow friend and worker Frederick Goodwin. I J Potter commended the project as “the old paper was tottering near the grave of blasted journalism. Immediately he commenced a vigorous editorship. The paper was enlarged, improved in appearance.”
In his first publication of The Ipswich Chronicle Davenport and his partner Frederick Goodwin made their intentions known to inform, educate and entertain their readers. The Chronicle reported the local and national news and a section for native poets and short story writers. The ad pages filled and boosted the commerce of the city and nearby communities. The paper hosted marine journals, crop reports, a social registers and horoscopes satisfying all taste. The editorials were fiery and opened an arena of debate. The new platform for social commentary in the small town of Ipswich was happening in the pages of the Chronicle. From the role of the women in the work force, suffrage, domestic concerns to growing sentiments of progress and social reform the paper met the demands of the public.
Davenport praised for his articles on the popular Freemasons society and other local organizations he drew attention, but when Frederick Goodwin resigned from the The Ipswich Chronicle a year later and sold his interest to Davenport it became increasing harder to withstand financial pressures. While Goodwin opened the firm Goodwin & Drisko printers he prospered, but Mr. Davenport was not as fortunate and struggled with the Chronicle and was not subtle and in his pleas:
PROFITABLE. Doing printing for politicians and sending in your bill after the election. If you don’t believe it, try it. If you can’t try it, asks your printer. “A Beggar! The editor of the Chronicle: and yet some of the people who make him a beggar like to occupy space in his editorial column.”
In one edition Davenport was obliged to forego the pleasure of attending church because he had not shirt suitable to appear in. The irony of it all, Davenport’s shirt clothed many of his workers while running the paper. He often paid the hotels for their lodging and food. All these men stayed with him and as long as he had work they obliged. He hired one “vagabond printer” off the streets, destitute from the war ….Once a well dressed man carrying little sack came to his office seeking work and was hired under the condition he would let him to sleep in the office rather than at the station-house.
On December 6, 1874 Davenport issued a short version of the paper “The Peoples Choice.” He gained some support and held out for three years hoping to gain a sound financial ground. The paper was essentially the people’s choice and sustained high standard of quality. His last day of publication date in Ipswich was January 6, 1877 turning it over to Lyman Daniels who then partnered with I J Potter who was sole editor as the paper went through a few hands and finally incorporated into several publications.

On October 18, 1883 Davenport served as a witness in the U.S. Senate Committee on Education and Labor. His independent spirit and liberal ideas were not well received by Congress. He rallied for the press and attacked corporate mongers who benefited from low wages paid to their workers. He spoke against child labor and the unfair wages for women because of their gender asserting he knew “many skilled competent women compositors doing the same labor for a much lower percentage in pay.”
Ad from Chronicle

Davenport spoke on his own experience at The Ipswich Chronicle and supposed his failure to maintain ownership and publication was partly due to paying his men higher wages and refusing to compromise quality or production in order to cut cost. Davenport voiced grievances on corporations cutting down the wages who work for them to the lowest cent possible and hiring shrewd supervisors who squeeze the last cent out of their workmen and putting it onto their capital. Labor was treated as part of the profits. Corporations were run like jails and shamed the committee for pretending not to see how either establishment is run as they are one in the same. He saw no resolutions to these conditions as long as: “selfishness breeds selfishness.” He believed employers in a any company small or large success consisted in taking good care of the help, and giving them good homes and the best sanitary conditions, and to show an interest in them. Davenport: Look at the Boston Herald and the Boston Advertiser—large daily papers in this city. What are the men that own the stock of those corporations—for that is what they are and we might as well call them
that—what do they know or care about the men that work? What do they know about me or about the editors or reporters? They know nothing about them and care nothing about them. And, on the other hand it might be said, what do we care about them? Business is being run now upon the principle of business. Men are hired just the same as you would buy cattle or sheep in a great many businesses. Mr. Atkinson talked last night about skilled labor and education. What is the good in a great many businesses—what is the good in our mills, for a man to be educated? When it comes to a question of money, these people say what he shall get.
Of course, education is a benefit beyond its money value, and I claim that a workingman wants something besides food and clothes in this country. Davenport’s testimony before the committee clearly exerts his intense feelings and zealous nature for reform. He concluded that men wanted recreation in their lives, to educate their children, and to have the opportunity to debate, discuss, and actually govern their own thoughts and aspirations rather than just subscribing to the general order of survival and being dictated by others rules and laws. If a mans wage is so low in order to benefit the employer than the light will extinguish in a worker and the pursuit of betterment refinement will not seem accessible. When this is cut from a man then he will lose interest in himself and the community.

  Davenport worked at the Boston Herald until his death in 1884. He had survived a bad accident that summer at the train station where he broke the hip that carried the wound from his shot in the war. He was quite prominent in Democratic Party in Newburyport and was active in many social clubs. I J Potter wondered why Davenport never rose above his position as compositor or editor of a country newspaper and “admired his endurance, courage, and brevity.” Noting Davenports deep disappointment, Potter remarks “He labored hard for but little reward” a young death and a deep discouragement plagued him.  However, if we did not have men like Davenport who wrote “at times with his particularizes cropping out” then progress would not endure. His convictions ran deep a true Dickens style sparring for Justice. Davenport is resting now at Mount Hope Cemetery with thirty three other brethren of the Benjamin Franklin Typographical Society. He is at peace with these proud printers who honored their patron saint Mr. Franklin and forever echoing the celebrated legacy of his words: “once a printer, always a printer, and never ashamed of the craft!” 

“The Ipswich public are not, or ever will be aware of the good Davenport 
has done this town. The Chronicle gave Ipswich tone and dignity, denoted
enterprise for the merchants, each edition creditable and exerted a high 
moral influence over the community at large. Like any good editor he was witty, possessed ability, brevity, and a dash of writing and quick thought which is so essential to successful journalism.” 
 The Ipswich Chronicle March 1 1884 editor I J Potter on Edward L Davenport
Genealogy of the Greenleaf Family James Edward Greenleaf
 Ipswich in the Mass Bay Colony  T F Waters, Sarah Goodhue, John Wise
 The Rebellion Record   Frank Moore
 A record of the Twenty-third Regiment Mass  James Arthur Emmerton
Wearing the Blue in the Twenty-third Regiment Mass Joseph Waldo Denny
 Municipal History of Essex County In MA Volume 2 Benjamin F Arrington
 American Newspaper Directory V 4 
 Pettengill’s Newspaper Directory  S. M. Pettengill & Co.
 A History of Newburyport  Currier
Doris Schreiber Wilcox & David Land Wilcox: Double Davenports: 
                  Descendants of James and Mary (Walker) Davenport of Boston
The  New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 158
William Davenport & Some of his Descendents Russell Leigh Jackson

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