James Gordon Bennett, an American journalist, founder and proprietor of the "New York Herald," born at New Mill, Keith, in Banffshire, Scotland, Sept. 1, 1795, died in New York, June 1, 1872. He remained at school in his native place till he was 14 or 15 years of age, when he went to a Roman Catholic seminary in Aberdeen, with a view to preparing lor holy orders in that church, of which his parents were members. At this institution he pursued the usual routine of academic life for two or three years, when he abandoned the intention of entering upon an ecclesiastical career, and soon after determined to emigrate to America. He embarked with a youthful companion in April, 1819, and arriving in Halifax with but scanty pecuniary resources, took up the occupation of teaching, He was led to this employment by necessity rather than inclination, and alter a brief experience of its annoyances left Halifax for Portland, and thence made his way to Boston in the autumn of 1819, and obtained the situation of a proof-reader in the publishing house of Wells and Lilly. During his residence in Boston he published several poetical compositions.
In 1822 he went to New York, and soon accepted the offer of Mr. Willington, the proprietor of the "Charleston Courier," to employ him as a translator from the Spanish-American papers. He also prepared original articles for the "Courier." Alter a few months he returned to New York, and issued proposals for the establishment of a commercial school. This plan was not carried into effect, and his next step was the delivery of a course of lectures on political economy, in the vestry of the old Dutch church in Ann street. In 1825 Mr. Bennett first became the proprietor of a public journal, having purchased a Sunday newspaper called the "New York Courier." The enterprise was not successful, and he obtained employment as a writer and reporter for several journals of the city. In 1826 he became connected with the • National Advocate," a democratic newspaper published by Mr. Snowden. After the state election of that year he began to take an active part in politics, vehemently opposing the tariff, and discussing banks and banking.
In the spring of 1827 he discontinued his connection with the "National Advocate," which, after having changed proprietors, espoused the cause of .John Quincy Adams, while Mr. Bennett was a warm partisan of Martin Van Buren, then in the senate of the United States He was next engaged with Mordecai M. Noah as associate editor of the "Enquirer," and became a member of the Tammany society. During the presidential canvass of 1828 he was devoted to the interests of Gen. Jackson, residing at Washington as correspondent of the Enquirer." After the fusion of that journal with the "Courier," in 1829, he continued to write in the editorial department of the "Courier and Enquirer," and in the autumn of the same year became an associate editor. In 1831 he wrote a series of articles on the banking system of the United States, and cooperated with Gen. Jackson and the democratic party in their opposition to the recharter of the United States bank. In 1832, the senior editor, J. W. Webb, having determined to support the United States bank, Mr. Bennett withdrew from the paper, and in October of the same year issued the first number of a new journal called the "New York Globe." This was published precisely one month, during which time it was strenuously devoted to the cause of Jackson and Van Buren. Mr. Bennett then purchased a share in the "Pennsyl-vanian," a daily journal of Philadelphia, and became its principal editor.
In 1834 he returned to New York, and in May, 1835, issued the first number of the "New York Herald." Mr. Bennett began the enterprise with a capital of $500, and was once robbed and twice burned out within the first 15 months, but at the end of that time found himself worth nearly $5,000. As his capital increased he spent money freely in promoting the interests of his paper, which by this means and through Mr. Bennett's wit, originality, and industry speedily became celebrated and achieved great success. Four months after the fire which destroyed his office there was a great fire in Wall street and its neighborhood. The "Herald" largely increased its prosperity by publishing full accounts of it, illustrated with a map of the burnt district and a woodcut of the exchange on fire. It was the first newspaper that published a daily money article and the stock lists. In 1837 it set up a ship news establishment, consisting of a row boat, manned by a captain and two men, which intercepted ships as they arrived and got from them their news and the passenger lists.
In 1838 steam communication with Europe was opened by the arrival of the Sirius and Great Western. Mr. Bennett sailed in the Sirius on its return trip, and made arrangements for correspondence from all parts of Europe. The first speech ever reported in full by telegraph, that of Mr. Calhoun on the Mexican war, was transmitted to the "Herald." That journal was independent in politics, but generally supported the democratic party, and advocated the compromise of 1850 and the fugitive slave law. But it adhered to Fremont and the republican party in 1856, publishing articles against the extension of slavery, and supported the government during the civil war. In 1871 an expedition to search for Dr. Livingstone in Africa was sent out by the "Herald;" and Mr. Stanley, its head, arrived in England the following year, reporting that he had succeeded. (See Livingstone.) The profits of the "Herald" at the time of Mr. Bennett's death were estimated as being from one half to three quarters of a million dollars per annum.
Mr. Bennett was married in 1840. He died in the Roman Catholic faith, receiving the last sacrament from Archbishop McCloskey. He bequeathed the "Herald " to his only son, James Gordon Bennett, jr., who is now its editor and proprietor.