Question of the Week
Publisher John W. Forney served as secretary of the U.S. Senate under which president?
Answer: Abraham Lincoln
During the Civil War, Philadelphia had one newspaper devoted entirely to news of the war. It was called Forney’s War Press, established by a Lancaster native named John Forney.
Born in 1817, Forney began his publishing career as a printing office apprentice at the Lancaster Journal. He later took over as the paper’s owner and editor. During his time in Lancaster, Forney became friends with James Buchanan, future president of the United States, and Buchanan helped Forney get a job as a surveyor of the port of Philadelphia in the 1840s. Between the 1840s and the early 1860s, Forney moved between Philadelphia and Washington, D. C., worked for several different newspapers, and became clerk of the House of Representatives. Also during this time, Forney shifted his political affiliation from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party.
Under President Abraham Lincoln, Forney served as secretary of the U. S. Senate. Before he moved back to Washington, Forney established a newspaper in Philadelphia called the Press (sometimes called the Weekly Press). During the Civil War, this newspaper became known as Forney’s War Press, and it included engravings, news from war correspondents, casualty reports, poetry, wit, and humor related to the Civil War. After the war was over, the paper returned to its original name and Forney remained at its head until the 1870s when he sold the paper. It continued to be published until around 1880.
Among HSP's sizeable collections of newspaper and serials are runs of Forney's Press, War Press, and Progress. Some of Forney's letters can be found in several HSP collections including the Salmon P. Chase papers (#121) and the James Buchanan papers (#91).
Image: Front page of Forney’s War Press, April 12, 1862
About the Author
Look for these history stories every Sunday in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The stories, called Memory Stream, are published in the Currents section of the newspaper.