Sept. 1892: first issue of the New World

By Joyce Duriga
Saturday, January 14, 2017

On Sept. 10, 1892, Benjamin Harrison was president of the United States, plans for the Columbian Exposition were well underway and Patrick Feehan was serving as the first archbishop of the newly elevated Archdiocese of Chicago. On that day 125 years ago, the first edition of The New World hit newsstands, selling for 5 cents.

In each issue leading up to our official 125th anniversary this September, we will provide you slices of history like this from our pages over the years.

In the first issue, a pastoral letter to readers from the bishops of Illinois appeared on the front page. In it, they explained that the Third Plenary Council in Baltimore called for each of the dioceses in the United States to form their own newspaper to tell the church’s story directly to its people. This was a time of great prejudice against Catholics, so it was important for the church to have its own voice in the press.

The bishops wrote, “In the state of Illinois there are not less than seven hundred thousand Catholics, and a newspaper which represents their religious faith and interests, which defends their rights, which gives voice to their aspirations, will be looked upon by them as a general blessing.”

In that pastoral letter the bishops also made the case for Catholic education and the necessity of establishing parochial schools in parishes.

Likewise on the front page of that eight-page issue were stories about the Columbian Exposition, about the death of poet John G. Whittier and about how Protestantism spread in Scandinavia. Rounding out the issue were stories about the daily life of Pope Leo XIII, poems and jokes, and a letter from the pope to Bishop John Spalding of Peoria approving the Catholic exhibit for the World’s Fair.


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