May 3, 1870: First edition of the Duluth Tribune

On this day in Duluth in 1870. R. C. Mitchell published the first edition of the Duluth Tribune. Mitchell had come to Superior less than a year before and leased the Superior Gazette, and changed its name to Superior Tribune and urged “the people who controlled the destiny of the place to ‘get a move on,’ and throw off the lethargy that possessed them.” Meanwhile, across the bay, Duluthians had grown lethargic of Dr. Thomas Foster, editor of the Minnesotian. Duluth pioneers had helped Foster establish his newspaper in Duluth by giving him a fortune in real estate, but soon after receiving this windfall his attitude changed. A staunch Republican, Foster began calling Duluth pioneers and Jay Cooke’s advance men “The Ring,” and claimed that this group, led by Democrat (and Duluth’s first mayor) J. B. Culver, “ran Duluth” to bolster their own fortunes. Pioneer Sidney Luce said of Foster, “the doctor was quite an able man but a poor manager and vindictively offensive in some of his editorials.” On the advice of Jay Cooke, Duluth’s leaders approached Mitchell and convinced him to relocate his newspaper in the Zenith City. It wasn’t an easy move, as Mitchell himself would say, “This decision incensed the people of Superior, owing to the intensely bitter feeling that existing there towards Duluth; in those days the man from Superior who would cast his lot with Duluth was regarded as a traitor to Superior.”

Robert Mitchell, editor of the original Duluth Tribune, photographed in 1894. (Image: University of Minnesota Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library Archives and Special Collections)

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