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Arunah Shepherdson Abell

Born: 10-Aug-1806
Birthplace: East Providence, RI
Died: 19-Aug-1888
Location of death: Baltimore, MD
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Green Mount Cemetery, Baltimore, MD

Gender: Male
Religion: Protestant
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Publisher, Editor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: The Baltimore Sun

Arunah Shepherdson Abell was something of a vagabond. He apprenticed in the print shop of the Providence Patriot, then worked as a journeyman printer in New York and Boston, then joined with two business partners, Azariah Simmons and William M. Swain, to establish the Philadelphia Public Ledger newspaper in 1836. The Ledger was a quick success, so the three partners agreed that Abell would travel alone to Baltimore and establish a new newspaper there. The Baltimore Sun premiered on 17 May 1837 -- its first issues just one sheet of paper, printed on both sides, folded in half to make four pages. Within a year it was the best-selling of Baltimore's seven newspapers, and Abell called that city his home for the rest of his life.

At the time, news was generally presented only as a sidelight to the publisher's political agenda, or in coverage slanted to please political cronies. Abell took The Sun in a different direction, covering current events with noticeably more fairness and less blatant editorializing. It was a different approach, and Abell's Baltimore Sun became something of a forerunner of what is now seen as "objective" news coverage.

Abell almost immediately established a "Washington DC bureau" for The Sun, bringing national news to his paper via "express riders" -- men on horseback. He later pioneered using carrier pigeons to speed the news, and established cooperative relationships with out-of-town papers to create the first informal 'news syndicates'. When Samuel F. B. Morse devised the "telegraph", Abell was among the first newsmen to see its value, establishing what became known as "newswires". By the time America went to war against Mexico in 1846, Abell's Sun was able to break news on distant battles even before the War Department could inform President James Knox Polk. The Sun was also among the first newspapers to purchase newly designed, higher-volume printing machinery.

In Philadelphia, The Ledger became the dominant newspaper for decades, but faded and ceased publication in 1942. In Baltimore, The Sun is still published seven days a week, and still regarded as a better-than-average big-city daily. Some of the better-known writers who have worked at The Sun include Russell Baker, Jack Germond, H. L. Mencken, Drew Pearson, and Louis Rukeyser. The Sun is now owned by the Tribune Company, the same conglomerate that publishes the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and Newsday on Long Island, NY.

Father: Caleb Abell (farmer and town clerk, d. 1840)
Mother: Elona Shepherdson Abell (d. 1847)
Sister: Lois Abell French
Brother: Daniel H. Abell (farmer)
Sister: Mary Abell Wheaton
Sister: Nancy Abell Allyn
Brother: Caleb Abell Jr.
Brother: Robert Abell
Sister: Sarah Abell
Wife: Mary Fox (m. 1838)
Son: George William Abell (Sun executive)
Son: Edwin Franklin Abell (Sun executive)
Daughter: Helen Maria Abell Baughman (b. 1856, d. 1940)

    The Baltimore Sun Founder and Publisher (1837-88)
    Philadelphia Public Ledger Co-Founder and Co-Owner (1836-64)
    English Ancestry


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