Charles L. MacArthur
City of Troy

Information on this page is from History of Rensselaer Co., New York by Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, published in 1880.

CHARLES L. MACARTHUR, senior editor and proprietor of the Troy Northern Budget, Troy, N. Y., was born at Claremont, N. H., Jan. 24, 1824, of Scotch [sic - Scottish] parentage on the father's side and New England on the mother's. He learned the trade of a printer in the North American office at Watertown, N. Y. After a partial education in district and select schools, he pursued a higher course of studies and was graduated at the Black River Institute at Watertown. Subsequently, for a short time, he was editor and proprietor of the Carthaginian at Carthage, N. Y. That proving unremunerative, he "went west." He was next a local reporter on the Detroit Free Press. From thence he went to Milwaukee, Wis., about 1842 or 1843. Milwaukee then had a population of ten thousand and was the rival of Chicago, whose population was only twelve thousand. Wisconsin and Iowa were territories and vast regions out of which states have since been carved [but] were then uninhabited by any white settlers, unsurveyed, and unexplored. He went with a government party, as secretary to the expedition, to make a treaty with the Sioux Indians on the upper regions of the Platte River. Returning with the expedition, he became the senior editor of the Milwaukee Sentinel, writing its first and leading article on its first appearance as a daily paper. It was the first daily paper published in Wisconsin. He remained there until the spring of 1846, when he went to New York City and subsequently became the city editor of the New York Sun, then owned by Moses Y. Beach, and edited by the celebrated Mordecai M. Noah.

In September 1847, he joined John M. Francis in the purchase of the Troy Daily Budget. He went to Europe in 1851 and wrote a series of letters, some of which were widely copied into the newspapers. In 1856 he visited Cuba, under a secret government commission, to look into certain matters mainly connected with the Havana consulate, and made an elaborate report to the State Department. From Cuba, he visited the southern states and wrote a series of letters to the Budget, which attracted wide attention. He continued with the Budget until Jan. 1, 1859. On Oct. 18, 1859, he established the Troy Daily Arena but sold it in the spring of 1861 to go to the war. Taking a prominent part in the organization of the 2d New York Volunteers, he was appointed regimental quartermaster, with the rank of first lieutenant, embarking with the regiment for Fortress Monroe. He was at the Battle of Great Bethel; witnessed the Merrimac and Monitor fight in Hampton Roads; went with the regiment, after the capture of Norfolk, to Portsmouth, and participated with it until appointed by President Lincoln and Secretary Stanton as captain and assistant quartermaster in the regular army. Supsequently he served as brigade and division quartermaster; was at the Battle of Fredericksburg; [and was] through all the battles from Fair Oaks to McClellan's seven days' fights in the "change of base" to the James River.

On quitting the army, he received two brevet promotions from Governor Fenton "for faithful and meritorious services in the late war."

In the fall of 1864, he established the Troy News, the first Sunday paper in Troy, and in the state outside of New York [City]. It was almost the first Sunday paper in the country that was a live news paper. It proved a great success, was taken by all classes, and lifted Sunday journalism from the average flashy region of sentimental story-writing to the higher plane of disseminating the latest and fullest reliable intelligence, both locally and generally.

Mr. MacArthur sold the News at a handsome figure in 1866, having become one of the editors and proprietors of the Troy Daily Whig. The Troy Daily Budget having died during the war of "too much copperheadism," and the Sunday News failing to meet the public wants in Sunday journalism, on March 24, 1869, Mr. MacArthur re-established the Troy Northern Budget as a Sunday journal, and it became a great success from the start. It is now a paper of the size of the New York Times, has a large circulation, and is one of the best-paying pieces of newspaper property in the state.

In its publication, Arthur MacArthur is associated with his father, under the firm name of C. L. MacArthur & Son. Mr. MacArthur has been an active and influential politician; was a Free-Soiler in 1848; and remained a Democrat up to the advent of Lincoln. He was for several years a member of the Democratic State Central Committee, a delegate in the National Convention of 1856, and a frequent delegate to state conventions. He was an alderman from the Second Ward in 1852 and 1853 and for a number of years, under Democratic rule, [was] the collector of the port of Troy. Since Lincoln's first election, Mr. MacArthur has been an unwavering Republican. For a number of years he held, under the Republican administration, the office of collector of the port, until that office was abolished. He has also been an extensive traveler to all parts of this country and the West Indies, the Pacific coast, etc., and his various travel letters published in the Budget, from Florida, the South, the Bahamas, the Pacific coast, etc., have been read with relish by many thousands who have personally expressed to him their admiration of the vivid and graphic descriptive pictures which they afford the reader. In newspaper controversy, he writes with a directness and incisive force that usually makes his opponent desire to "stand from under." He is regarded as one of the most vigorous, forcible, independent, and courageous newspaper editors in this section of the state, and that he is endowed richly with the "second sight" of true journalism the great success of the Budget abundantly testifies.

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