Herman Ridder (1851-1915)

Herman Ridder, the eldest son of German immigrants to New York. Largely self-educated, he entered the field of journalism as a young man, founding first a German-language Catholic newspaper and then the English-language Catholic News. In 1890 he bought into the New Yorker Staatszeitung, a distinguished daily of national – as well as local – renown. Influenced by the paper’s owner and editor, Oswald Ottendorfer, he became an entrepreneur in business, politics, and print technology.

Updated: September 30, 2015

Introduction

Herman Ridder, the eldest son of German immigrants to New York, was born in 1851 – early enough to have known and been influenced by the Forty-Eighters, but too young to have served in the Civil War. He left school at the age of eleven. Largely self-educated, he entered the field of journalism as a young man, founding first a German-language Catholic newspaper and then the English-language Catholic News. In 1890 he bought into the New Yorker Staatszeitung, a distinguished daily of national – as well as local – renown. Influenced by the paper’s owner and editor, Oswald Ottendorfer, he became an entrepreneur in business, politics, and print technology.

Ridder (born March 5, 1851, in New York, NY; died November 1, 1915, in New York, NY) was actively involved in politics at the local, state, and national levels and was soon a leading spokesperson for the German-American community, often taking on Tammany Hall. Frequently mentioned as a worthy candidate for mayor and the United States Senate, he declined nomination because he believed it would compromise his journalistic ethics. In 1908, he was one of two individuals considered for the Democratic vice-presidential nomination, becoming instead treasurer of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Active in the American Newspaper Publishers Association (ANPA), he helped lead the ANPA’s pioneering use of arbitration to settle labor disputes and spearheaded its battle against the tariff on Canadian wood pulp. He was the chief proponent of the Intertype, a low-cost typesetting machine that challenged the monopoly of Ottmar Mergenthaler’s Linotype. Ridder died in 1915 at the age of 64. During the last year of his life, he and his son published a syndicated column on the conduct of the First World War in Europe from the German point of view. Concerns about his pro-German rhetoric and financial difficulties due to his investment in Intertype cast a shadow over his final days. Nevertheless, the publishing company he left to his sons eventually became Knight Ridder, Inc., one of the largest and most influential newspaper chains of the late twentieth century.

Family Background

Herman Ridder was born on March 5, 1851, in a house at 400 Greenwich Street in New York City. The first of ten children born to Herman Ridder the elder and his wife, Gertrude Maria Tiemann, Ridder had three brothers and six sisters, all of whom survived to adulthood. His father was born on March 12, 1816, reputedly in the Prussian province of Westphalia, near the border with Holland, and is said to have made his way to New York in the 1830s. Mrs. Ridder was born on February 11, 1830, in Coesfeld, Westphalia. She came to America in 1847 and married Herman Ridder the elder on May 12, 1850, in New York. She died November 7, 1907, at the age of 77; her husband died in 1871 in his mid-fifties.[1]

By the time Herman and Gertrude Maria (née Tiemann) Ridder made their appearance in New York, Germans had long been part of the city’s ethnic mix. But the large number arriving in the 1830s and 1840s made them a key social and political force. Like the Irish, the Germans were hurt by the potato blight of the 1840s. Industrialization caused employment dislocation, sending to America waves of workers whose artisanal skills were no longer needed in their homeland. Like many German New Yorkers, the elder Herman Ridder arrived in the wake of the failed German revolutions of 1830, which witnessed widespread popular protests against aristocratic rule in the German lands, including Westphalia. In the year before his son’s birth, 1850, the United States Census recorded 56,140 German-born residents in the city of New York. An estimate of the city’s German population later in that decade was “about 100,000.” Historian Carl Wittke wrote of the new arrivals:

The immigrants included every variety, from the rag pickers and derelicts concentrated in New York’s notorious “Five Points” area to some of the city’s ablest professional men. Before the Civil War there were twenty German churches in New York, several German private schools, a German theater, beer gardens and German hotels, a number of German societies, and several German newspapers.[2]

Ridder’s parents’ occupations are unknown, but it appears that they struggled economically. The younger Herman Ridder attended public school in the city only until the age of eleven. He quit to run errands for the owners of a hat store, and then clerked for a Wall Street firm. For fourteen years, he worked for the Tradesmen’s Fire Insurance Company. By 1878, he accumulated enough capital to co-found a weekly German-language Catholic newspaper, the Katholisches Volksblatt, with Rev. Anton B. Schwenniger. According to a 1908 article in the New York Times, the Volksblatt was the first German-Catholic newspaper in the city of New York and Ridder worked the circulation “up to the top knotch [sic].”[3]

On April 6, 1880, Herman Ridder married Mary C. Amend, a member of a prominent German-American Catholic family, born July 1, 1849, in New York. He would become a “triple brother-in-law” of Mary’s brothers, Edward B. Amend and William J. Amend, who married Ridder’s sisters, Catherine Johanna Ridder and Anna Marie Ridder, respectively. Herman and Mary C. Ridder had five sons: Herman Bernard, who died at three months in 1882; Bernard Herman, born in 1883; twins Joseph Edward and Victor Frank, born in 1886; and William Joseph, who died at age seven in 1895. His brothers-in-law, both attorneys, would become important political allies. His surviving sons would carry on his business endeavors.[4]

The Evolution of a German-Language Press

The journalistic world into which Herman Ridder stepped in the 1870s had deep roots and wide branches. The first German-language newspaper in America was founded not by a German immigrant but by Benjamin Franklin. The Philadelphische Zeitung, a four-page “Newspaper in High Dutch,” hit the streets in 1732, promising fortnightly publication. It appears to have lasted all of two issues. Nevertheless, as German enclaves developed in America’s cities, German newspapers followed. Dailies and weeklies would eventually be published not only in New York, but also in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Richmond, Little Rock, New Orleans, and San Francisco, as well as in San Antonio and New Braunfels, Texas. Cities with large German populations supported multiple papers appealing to businesspeople, laborers, and members of religious denominations.[5]

The first German language newspaper with staying power belonged to Christopher Sauer, a German Dunkard who had come to Pennsylvania in 1724 to ply the trade of tailoring in which he had been trained in the Palatinate. He also tried farming and the small-scale manufacture of printing presses, which led him into the printing business in 1738. On August 20, 1739, he produced the first edition of what would become known as the Germantauner Zeitung. According to historian Robert E. Park, there were only five other newspapers in the American colonies at the time. Sauer’s paper was published at Germantown, a section of Philadelphia settled as an independent colony in 1683 by thirteen German Mennonite families seeking religious freedom. Like Franklin’s Philadelphische Zeitung, Sauer’s Germantauner Zeitung was a four-page affair. But Sauer opted to start slowly, beginning with monthly publication. Later, as a weekly newspaper, the Germantauner Zeitung gained in popularity, with a reported circulation of four-thousand by 1751. Sauer’s sons continued it for nearly forty years; it was “read in all the little scattered German communities, not only in Pennsylvania, but in New York, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia.” The Sauers eventually acquired paper mills and a foundry for casting lead type. They temporarily became wealthy, but fell on hard times because of their loyalty to the British crown during the American Revolution.[6]

The Emergence of a German-Language Press in New York: The New Yorker Staatszeitung

The first attempt to start a German-language newspaper in New York came in 1819. Eduard Schäffer, who had emigrated from Frankfurt am Main with a “printing outfit,” published only a few issues of Der Deutsche Freund there before moving on to Ohio. According to Carl Wittke, writing in 1957, “The history of the German-language press of New York really begins with the New Yorker Staatszeitung, which has survived to the present day.” Unlike the early Pennsylvania publishers, who printed broadsheets for a narrow, primarily religious audience, the founders of the Staatszeitung waited until New York’s German community was flourishing, supporting a variety of community institutions – religious, philanthropic, social, and political – that benefited from the influx of educated individuals who departed the Fatherland in the aftermath of the 1830 revolutions, before publishing a secular newspaper.[7]

The first issue of the Staatszeitung appeared on December 24, 1834, the product of a joint-stock company. The first editor, Gustav Adolph Neumann, was a Silesian, formerly a student of theology. After three years, Neumann bought out the other shareholders and ran the newspaper as a sole proprietorship. Pro-Jackson in its national politics, in local affairs it favored Tammany Hall, the Democratic political machine. Originally intended as a weekly, the four-page paper initially was published on an irregular basis. This did not seem to affect its popularity. Its circulation reached two thousand in its first year, five thousand by 1840, and fourteen thousand by its twentieth anniversary. It was printed on a hand press, with a staff of two – “the editor, who also acted as reporter and press foreman, and a printer’s devil eighteen years old.” From the beginning, it was conceived of as an American paper in the German language, though it promoted German culture and the retention of the German tongue. By 1843 it had reached an enviable level of financial and technical stability, published thrice-weekly on a press that produced six hundred sheets an hour.[8]

Two years later, Neumann sold the paper to Jakob Uhl and George Dietz. Uhl was a printer by training. He and his wife, Anna, had immigrated to New York in 1836 and opened a “job printing office” at 11 Frankfort Street. From the start, they were active in politics. In 1845, Jacob Uhl was among three editors who asked then-Secretary of State James Buchanan to protest a German government edict prohibiting postmasters from delivering German-language papers published in the United States. During the early years of the Uhls’ ownership, Anna Uhl not only “took part in the management of the paper and contributed materially to its growing success,” but also raised six children. Born in Würzburg, Bavaria, on February 13, 1815, she gained a reputation as Uhl’s “able, conscientious, hardworking co-laborer in his newspaper enterprise.”[9] 

In 1848, the Staatszeitung played an important role in spreading news of the wave of revolutions sweeping Europe, not only in New York, but across the United States. Its staff “eagerly awaited the arrival of each steamer, and its excellent reports of the march of events were copied by German papers in the interior.” Uhl gave the opening speech at the 1848 “Revolutionsfest” held in New York to celebrate the conflict. The Staatszeitung continued to support revolutionary efforts, even as the movement began to fall apart as anti-revolutionary forces gained the upper hand. It castigated German Americans for not supporting the revolutionary struggle financially.[10]

Thousands of Europeans left the Continent in the aftermath of the failed revolutions. Those who immigrated to the United States came to be known as “Forty-Eighters.” Many were skilled workers, laborers, and farmers, but others were students and intellectuals – a boon to German-American institutions, and especially to the German-language press, which acquired both writers and readers. The Staatszeitung employed several Forty-Eighters, including Oswald Ottendorfer, who came to the paper’s “counting room,” as a clerk in 1851. Born February 26, 1826, into a prosperous manufacturing family in Zwittau, a small town in the Moravian-Bohemian borderlands, Ottendorfer studied in Prague and Vienna as European discord grew. In 1848, he became active in the effort to overthrow Prince Metternich of Austria, serving as a lieutenant in a battalion made up mostly of men involved in journalism. When Vienna fell to counterrevolutionary forces, he escaped, returning to Prague, moving on to Switzerland, and finally borrowing enough money to sail for New York.[11]

Arriving on April 1, 1850, without funds or English-language skills, he worked as a laborer in a “soda water” factory. Comrades in a club frequented by former student radicals assisted him in finding work at the Staatszeitung. He had been there only a year when Jacob Uhl died on April 28, 1852. Accounts of Uhl’s death that appeared in English-language newspapers noted that the Staatszeitung was even then the oldest of the city’s German newspapers. Management of the now thriving daily fell onto the shoulders of 37-year-old Anna. “She had her desk in the office. She wrote for it, helped print it and aided in the business and clerical part. With a strong, sound intellect and heroic energy, she toiled on and made no fuss about it.” Despite the presence of Ottendorfer on its staff, the Staatszeitung was often critical of the newcomers. In 1853 and 1854, it argued that the Forty-Eighters had no right to speak against their new homeland: “many a mechanic knows more about American politics than the intellectuals.”[12]

Under Anna Uhl’s leadership during the 1850s, the paper was sympathetic to Germans who wished to be free to drink beer when they wanted and socialize on Sundays, but “convinced that the rage of the nativists was directed primarily against the Irish, advised its readers to maintain a neutral position in the conflict between” Know Nothings and Catholics. It refused to condemn the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, leading to the resignation of George Dietz, an ardent opponent of slavery. Well into that year, the paper “maintained that only full-fledged citizens should edit newspapers.”[13]

In 1858, Anna Uhl named Ottendorfer editor-in-chief. In that same year, the paper retained the services of another former student radical, Henry Villard (née Heinrich Hillgard), as a “special correspondent” to cover the Lincoln-Douglas debates – in German. Villard would become famous as the son-in-law of abolitionist leader William Lloyd Garrison, the owner of the Nation and the New York Evening Post, builder of an ill-fated railroad empire, and collaborator with Thomas Edison in the Edison General Electric Company. He would name his son, who became a respected journalist in his own right, Oswald Garrison Villard.[14]

Ottendorfer’s Growing Influence in New York

In 1859, Oswald Ottendorfer returned to Europe for an extended stay, visiting the still un-unified Germany as well as France and Italy, but not Austria, “for there he dared not go on account of the sentence of death pending against him.” Upon his return, in August, he and Anna were married. He was soon viewed as the paper’s “proprietor.” From his marriage onward, Oswald Ottendorfer became an increasingly influential voice in local and eventually national affairs, participating in the Democratic Party upon achieving American citizenship. Though an opponent of slavery, he supported compromises aimed at keeping the Union intact. His support of Stephen Douglas in the 1860 election and during the ensuing war led to the perception that the Staatszeitung was sympathetic to the Confederacy and accusations that it was a “Copperhead” paper. After the war, he opposed Radical Republican Reconstruction policies.[15]

Locally, he was an anti-Tammany Hall activist, “antagonizing the Tweed ring in his paper and in conventions.” He played an essential role in electing a German-American mayor of New York in 1863. Elected a city alderman himself in 1872, he served one term. In 1874, he was nominated for mayor. Though he did not campaign actively, he still received 25,000 votes. A supporter of Samuel Tilden in the hotly contested presidential campaign of 1876, he tried to thwart the compromise that brought Rutherford B. Hayes to the White House. He also participated actively in German cultural and economic institutions, serving as president of the powerful Liederkranz Singing Society and helping create the German Savings Bank and the Germania Fire Insurance Company.[16]

“Mr. Ottendorfer was a man of great public spirit and integrity of character, always showing in his work a great desire to promote pure government. For many years he conducted what was much the most influential organ of public opinion among the Germans of this city and country, and filled a position unique in New York,” the New-York Tribune said upon his death in 1900.

Though Anna Uhl managed all aspects of the paper quite successfully before her second marriage and continued to be involved in the business side until shortly before her own death, Oswald Ottendorfer was seen as responsible for increasing the financial and political profile of the paper. However, he credited Anna with its survival, stating that “it would have actually gone under more than once only for his wife’s indomitable industry.” It was not until 1860 that the paper was on a “’solid money-making basis.”

By the time Anna died of heart disease on April 1, 1884, the couple’s wealth was estimated at $3 million (approximately $71 million in 2011$) and they were known as much for their philanthropy as for their business and political activities.[17] The couple established the Isabella Home for Aged Women in 1875, the Herman Uhl Memorial Fund to promote the study of German in public schools in 1881, and the Women’s Pavilion of the German Hospital in 1882. At the time of Anna’s passing, construction had begun on the German Dispensary and Free Reading Room on Second Avenue in the heart of “Kleindeutschland” or “Little Germany,” then an East Village neighborhood with more than 150,000 residents of German descent. The city’s first free public library, its initial collection of 8,000 books included 4,000 in German and 4,000 in English. It survives today as the Ottendorfer Branch of the New York Public Library.[18]

Carl Schurz spoke at Anna Ottendorfer’s funeral, eulogizing “her noble domestic virtues, her large-minded charity, and above all… her marvelous business ability.” The New York Times reported that the ceremony was the largest ever held for a woman in New York, attended in great numbers by the beneficiaries of her largesse. “The entire block [of East 17th Street] from Fifth Avenue to Broadway was packed with people, a large portion of whom were women,” and the doors of many German homes were “draped with black crape.” [19]

Ridder Emerges from the Ottendorfers’ Shadow

During this period, Herman Ridder was not widely known outside German circles. Tall and heavy set, when he was chosen to serve on the jury in a sensational trial in 1885, he was identified only as “publisher of a German newspaper.” But the trial of the notorious swindler, Ferdinand Ward, who had victimized Ulysses S. Grant, revealed Ridder’s somewhat outsize personality. The New-York Tribune noted: “A serio-comic incident of [the last day of the trial] was the interruption of General Tracy while summing up by Juryman Ridder, who disputed his conclusions. Mr. Ridder was No. 2 in the box, a young man of pronounced blond tendencies. He shook his head at the gray-haired counsel and, as three other jurors joined in with him, created a lively time in his immediate neighborhood.” The panel deliberated for five hours before finding Ward guilty of grand larceny.[20]

The following year, Ridder expanded his journalistic endeavors to include an English-language Catholic weekly, the Catholic News. According to the New York Times, “he soon made [it] the foremost English Catholic paper in the country.” He eventually entrusted its management to his younger brother, Henry. The weekly paper was published continuously under the leadership of Ridder family members until 1985.[21]

Sometime around 1880, Oswald Ottendorfer had begun to suffer from a “cerebro-spinal affliction” or “locomotor ataxia” that would lead him to depend on a wheelchair and eventually cause his death. Though continuing his interest in business and politics, he began to curtail his participation and limited it even further after Anna’s death. In 1890, news accounts reported that Herman Ridder had “purchased” the venerable paper for $4 million (approximately $102 million in $2011), but both Ottendorfer and Ridder hastened to clarify that the younger man had purchased shares of the business and would initially be involved only in its management, not editorial decision-making. “I will go in on January 1 as manager of the paper, and be next to Mr. Ottendorfer in authority. He will still control and be editor of the paper, probably for a long time to come,” Ridder told The Evening World of New York, explaining that the rumors could not be true because he did not have $4 million to spend. “Mr. Ridder is a very young-looking man, although he is forty years old…. He was born in this city and his family is German. He is one of the Vice-Presidents of the New York Press Club,” the World noted.[22]

“A Bright, Active Young Man”

Ottendorfer told the New York Times, “I am so old now that I am unable to give the business end of the paper the attention which it should have, and this is especially true as to matters of business which can only be looked after at night. I have felt the need of a bright, active young man in the establishment for some time. Perhaps I might have hired a man with a salary, but I did not consider that a salaried man having no financial interest in the paper would fill the bill.” It was also emphasized that the editorial policy of the paper “was to be affected in no way by Mr. Ridder’s connection with sectarian journals of any sort.” Other accounts noted that the “great German daily” was indeed lucrative, “making between $490,000 and $500,000 a year profits,” with its “500 shares said to be worth $8,000 a share” (approximately $12.5 million to $12.8 million and $204,000 in 2011$). A later account explained the newspapermen’s transaction in more detail, noting that Ottendorfer and the Uhl children owned the vast majority of those shares, with Ridder purchasing only 50 (an investment of approximately $400,000 rather than $4 million).[23]

Not only did the Staatszeitung remain under Ottendorfer’s influence, so did Herman Ridder.

In May, 1891, the venerable editor’s physical deterioration was noted in the national press: “Oswald Ottendorfer, one of New York’s best known journalists and German citizens, is beginning to stoop perceptibly, and is losing the erect, commanding figure which has distinguished him for so many years,” noted a Kansas paper. Though he continued to play a significant role in New York municipal politics, he increasingly acted through Ridder. As the older man had when he gained proprietorship of the paper, Ridder began to become a spokesperson for the German community – initially in the city of New York, but eventually statewide and nationally. More than his mentor, Ridder also became a leader in the national journalistic community. The Staatszeitung was a “bully pulpit,” conferring on its editor and manager a stature that reflected the power of the press and of the German-American community at this juncture in American life.[24]

Entrepreneurial Political Spirit

Ridder began to demonstrate an entrepreneurial flair through his publishing activities that would take him to the heights of local, state, national, and international politics; the pinnacle of the business of journalism; and the outer limits of the technology of publishing. It was an attribute that would eventually lead to his downfall and threaten the legacy he left to his sons. He first came to local prominence in 1892 at a mass meeting in protest of the New York State Democratic Party’s premature selection of delegates to the party’s national convention. Later that year, when the Tammany Hall organization sought a mayoral candidate who would not be a liability to the national Democratic ticket, “Herman Ridder, of the Staats-Zeitung,” was among those mentioned. More significantly for both men, Ottendorfer joined other German-American leaders including Carl Schurz, William Steinway, Gustav H. Schwab and former Staatszeitung staffer Henry Villard in creating the “German-American Cleveland Union,” a pro-Grover Cleveland organization that urged members of the national German-American community to support the former one-term president in that year’s election. Ottendorfer, said to control the votes of sixty-five-thousand New Yorkers of German descent, brought Ridder along.[25]

After Cleveland’s victory, the organization was renamed the “German-American Reform Union.” It would remain a power in New York city and state politics for over a decade, and Herman Ridder would come to be recognized as its de facto leader, though he was not always an officer. The Union was also known as the GARU. or “the Garoos.” It played a key role in the municipal contests of the mid- to late 1890s and early 1900s and had significant influence in state and national affairs. The Evening World opined, “The German-American Reform Union [was] now the most powerful and influential German political organization in the city.”[26]

Ottendorfer had a long-standing aversion to Tammany Hall, and the GARU usually followed his lead. But Ridder was more flexible, as evidenced in 1895, when he led the Union to back the Tammany candidate for mayor. At issue was Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt’s campaign to enforce New York State’s excise law, which prohibited the sale of alcohol in taverns, saloons, and bars on Sundays. German-American New Yorkers were more concerned about this threat to their personal liberty than about municipal corruption. Ridder championed their cause. “I have never before voted for Tammany Hall,” he said at a meeting of the GARU general membership, “and I am going to tell you why I will do it this Fall. It is because we must support the Democracy against Rooseveltism and Republicanism,” the New York Times reported. A resolution to support the Tammany ticket “passed by a vote of 400 to about 60” and Ridder received “three cheers with a will by the vast majority of the audience.” The Times pointed out that Ottendorfer was supporting a fusion ticket, but Ridder brought him around before the polls opened in November. The two were listed together as representing the GARU at a “grand ratification reunion” of Democratic organizations.[27]

The Republicans triumphed statewide, but Tammany won the city legislative districts. “It was the Tiger’s night to howl. The excise issue pulled him out of retirement and he lashed his tail and wagged his mane in high old fashion in the Fourteenth Street Wigwam,” said the Times’ election coverage. The Times estimated that the German vote for “Sunday beer” had added forty-thousand votes to the Democratic total in the city. Ridder’s active role in encouraging German turnout demonstrated his power, at the same time that it showed the German community could be depended upon to fight for what it cared about.[28]

In 1896, Ottendorfer and Ridder were among the leaders of the German-American Sound Money League, a bipartisan coalition of leading Germans that sought to defend the gold standard against William Jennings Bryan and advocates of bimetallism and “free coinage of silver” in the presidential contest. The following year, both Ridder and his “rich brother-in-law, Lawyer Amend” were mentioned as possible mayoral candidates, but Ridder instead led the GARU back out of the Tammany column and into support of a third-party candidate.[29]

Changing of the Guard

Increasingly plagued by debilitating illness, Ottendorfer died on December 15, 1900, with two of his stepchildren and Herman Ridder at his bedside. He was eulogized “not as a representative German-American, but as the great American of German birth.” His death left Ridder as the primary spokesperson for the Staatszeitung and elevated his status in the GARU. By this point, however, the German-born and German-descended population of New York had increased greatly. The U.S. Census for that year recorded 195,335 “white heads of family with German-born parents” out of a total city population of more than 3.4 million. Fissures began to appear within the community. Rival groups, including the German-American Municipal League, the German-American Citizens League, and the German-American Republican League, challenged the GARU; some aimed their hostility squarely at Ridder. But at a “unity” meeting of the leadership of several of the organizations, a new one emerged: the German-American Union, with Herman Ridder as chairman of its executive committee. In 1901, Ridder was again promoted as a mayoral candidate, but declined to run. Meanwhile, the national landscape had shifted: with the assassination of William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, just six years earlier German-Americans’ nemesis as New York City Police Commissioner, was now their President.[30]

The decade after Ottendorfer’s death was an important one for the Staatszeitung and for Ridder. When the Associated Press was reorganized in 1900 as a cooperative newsgathering organization headquartered in New York, Ridder was elected as a director, serving continuously until his death. From 1907 to 1909 he also served as treasurer. From his first years at the Staatszeitung, Ridder had been seen as a leader in the business of journalism. In 1891, he was appointed receiver for a major supplier of newspaper ink that fell into financial difficulties and supervised its successful reorganization. In 1899, he and the managers of forty-five other German-language newspapers formed the German American Newspaper Publishers’ Association. He was elected the group’s vice-president. He had also become active in the American Newspaper Publishers Association. In 1900, he was one of three persons chosen to serve on the ANPA’s new national labor committee, charged with creating national arbitration agreements with the major labor unions active in the newspaper business. The publishers and unions developed an unprecedented level of cooperation. “As a result the daily newspaper publishers, as a national group, became pioneers in the fields of collective bargaining, conciliation, and arbitration,” wrote Edwin Emery, in History of the American Newspaper Publishers Association. “The position they established contrasted sharply with the belligerent attitude of many contemporary industries.”[31]

Ridder’s role in the ANPA arbitration committee led to his becoming a leader of the organization and increased his national profile. When a 1901 steel strike centered in Ohio and Pennsylvania threatened to spread to the rest of the country, the Federation of Labor suggested him as an arbitration panel member. Besides labor, the other major challenge facing publishers was the cost of newsprint, the special paper on which newspapers were printed. Publishers believed the wood pulp producers were colluding to keep the price high. In 1904, Ridder was a leader in the battle to “bust” the newsprint trusts, an effort rewarded by a 1906 court decision against one combination. That year also saw him gain complete financial and editorial control of the Staatszeitung. Leadership of the publisher’s group was usually decided behind the scenes, but Ridder took his bid for the presidency to the members. “In 1907 came an extremely rare event in ANPA history, an election contest on the floor of the convention. It brought to the presidency one of the association’s most dynamic figures, Herman Ridder,” Emery reported.[32]

He served until 1911. During his tenure, the group fought not only collusion by newsprint producers but a tariff, or import tax, on wood pulp that protected domestic forestry interests and paper manufacturers but increased the costs faced by America’s publishers. Ridder’s vigorous advocacy won him the animosity of legendary Republican House Speaker Joseph G. Cannon and Sereno E. Payne, chairman of the tax-writing House Committee on Ways and Means. In his defense, the Democratic minority leader said a move by Cannon was intended “to delay action and circumvent this man, Herman Ridder, at the head of this great association of publishers – this ‘old German devil,’ as some people are beginning to call him.” Payne retorted that “Mr. Williams seems to take as gospel truth the statements of Herman Ridder, and yet of all the men who have submitted statistics to Congress I know of no one who makes more mistakes than this same Herman Ridder.” Cannon accused Ridder of bribery, claiming that he had led a delegation of publishers who offered to support Cannon in a presidential run for the White House in return for his opposition to the tax on wood pulp imports. Ridder denied the charge.[33]

The wood pulp tariff became a major source of discord between the United States and Canada and between Republicans and Democrats in Congress. The fight was finally settled when the Democrats took the House and Republican President Taft was persuaded to back a reciprocity agreement between the two nations just as the Staatszeitung publisher left the ANPA presidency.[34]

National and International Politics

While devoting significant time to his ANPA duties, Ridder kept a finger in New York municipal affairs and became more actively involved in politics at the national and international levels. In 1906 and again in 1910, he made extended trips to Germany, dining and having “a long conversation” with Kaiser Wilhelm each time. In 1908, he visited William Jennings Bryan, who was making a third bid for the U.S. presidency, and asked him to step aside in favor of “somebody who could win.” Bryan ignored his plea, but in part because of Ridder’s boldness and in part because of his record as a “gold bug,” Ridder was one of two men mentioned most prominently as possible vice-presidential candidates. Bryan made the other choice, but the newsman agreed to become treasurer of the Democratic National Committee when Oklahoma governor C.N. Haskell was forced out of that job by attacks from William Randolph Hearst and President Roosevelt. In a radical departure from 1901, organized labor denounced his appointment, arguing that he was a foe of the unions. Ridder and his sons contributed $37,000 (approximately $933,000 in 2011$) to Bryan’s campaign, the largest single donation, and as an early advocate of campaign finance transparency, he insisted on publishing the names of all contributors and the amounts they gave. He served as treasurer until 1912, but declined a second term despite supporting the Democratic presidential candidate, Woodrow Wilson.[35]

During the first thirteen years of the twentieth century, even while serving as president of the ANPA and treasurer of the DNC, Ridder was mentioned as a strong candidate for governor and lieutenant governor of New York, U.S. Senate, ambassador to Germany, and more than once for mayor. According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1909, “The German element believes they are entitled to representation on the city ticket and they think this purpose could best be achieved by nominating Mr. Ridder as the mayoralty candidate.” His candidacy was pushed most vocally by a spokesperson for the German-American Democratic Club, by then “the central organization of the German voters in this city.” Asked in 1908 why he never accepted nomination to any political office, he told the New York Times, “I don’t believe that a man can hold public office and be an unprejudiced journalist,” adding that he enjoyed the news business and wanted to continue in it.[36]

Besides his political and professional endeavors, he also played a key role in the civic life of the New York region, spearheading endeavors ranging from the celebratory to the tragic. In 1902, he organized the visit to America of Prince Heinrich of Germany, ensuring that the nation’s publishers had privileged access to the Kaiser’s brother. In 1904, he served as chair of the relief committee in the wake of the General Slocum disaster, a devastating fire aboard a large pleasure boat that killed 1,021 persons, mainly German women and children from Kleindeutschland. In 1909, he organized the Hudson-Fulton Celebration, which honored the three-hundredth anniversary of Henry Hudson’s discovery of the river and the one-hundredth anniversary of Robert Fulton’s steam navigation along the waterway. From 1911 through 1913, he was chief planner of the city’s “Sane & Safe 4th of July,” which grew to include events throughout the five boroughs. In addition to active participation in Catholic and German-American organizations, he served as a director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Legal Aid Society, and as a member of the Thomas Hunter Association, a union of the “old boys” of Grammar School No. 35 in Manhattan.[37]

The Technology of Publishing

In addition to his political role in the newspaper business, Ridder became an important advocate of technical advancements intended to decrease printing costs. In 1886, German immigrant Ottmar Mergenthaler had introduced the Linotype, which revolutionized the publishing business by replacing the laborious process of hand-setting type. The Mergenthaler Linotype Company soon had a monopoly that it defended zealously through legal action for patent infringement. In 1893, a competitor, “The Monoline Composing Company” was organized, producing “a line-casting machine which it claims is at least equal to the Mergenthaler linotype and at one-third the price.” A year later Mergenthaler won an injunction against Monoline; to avoid infringing American patents, Monoline moved its production facilities to Canada. By 1905, Ridder was said to “control” Monoline. During the next five years, at the height of his political endeavors, there is little evidence of Ridder’s involvement in the typesetting field. But in late 1911, with his ANPA and DNC involvement winding down, he organized a “new $5,000,000 concern,” the International Typesetting Machine Company (approximately $122 million in 2011$). A publicly-traded corporation, it would deal in products based on Mergenthaler patents that had already expired and would “develop the Monoline Composing machine for the United States.” International owned ninety-three percent of the shares of the Monoline parent company and the right to produce the device in the U.S.[38]

International, with Ridder as president and two of his sons, one of his Amend brothers-in-law, and the inventor of the Monoline machine as incorporators, opened factories in South Brooklyn in 1912. The Monoline name was replaced by “Intertype.” Ridder estimated his factory would employ about 1,000 men. But in 1913, the Mergenthaler Linotype Company began suing Intertype for patent infringement, taking out large ads in the Wall Street Journal to announce its actions. The first Intertype machine was delivered in March 1913, with 260 more in the hands of publishers before year’s end. In November 1914, more than 850 Intertypes were in use worldwide and the company reported profits of $165,735 (approximately $3.85 million in 2011$). But a month later a receiver was appointed in response to a suit brought by lenders. Ridder assured the press that the company was not insolvent, but noted that it had been hurt by its dependence on European sales, adversely affected by the war that had begun that summer, as well as the “expensive litigation” regarding patents. Shortly after placing International in receivership, the same judge ruled in the patent infringement cases brought by Mergenthaler. He found in favor of the older firm in four cases, and in favor of the Ridder concern in twenty-four. Joseph Ridder spoke for his father, stating that the decision “permanently destroys the monopoly which the Linotype company previously held.”[39]

The Beginning of the End

His role in Intertype clearly taxed Herman Ridder. In May 1913, he denied reports that he was seriously ill, and blamed his exhaustion on his duties at the Staatszeitung and Intertype. Once the First World War in Europe began, his worries about Germany added a debilitating burden. He began publishing an English-language column in the Staatszeitung on the progress of the war from “the viewpoint of the German people.” Ever the entrepreneur, he soon turned it into a syndicated column over his signature that was carried nationally by papers such as the Washington Post, the Scranton Republican, and the San Antonio Express; others, including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, regularly quoted from it. The Staats, as it was known, ran ads in the Wall Street Journal touting itself as “The National German Daily” with direct wireless contact with Germany and 160,320 average daily circulation. An ad for the Literary Digest appealed to “Germans” with a quote from “Herman Ridder, The Leading German-American.” But in December, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that Ridder was recovering from “a long spell of illness . . . a breakdown from overwork” that kept him out of the office for several weeks.[40] 

In early 1915, a “Mysterious Sale of Blocks of Shares” in the Staatszeitung commenced. But despite illness and financial woes, Ridder remained a respected public figure. In May, the Brooklyn paper’s Sunday edition featured a front page article under a seven-column headline: “Herman Ridder on the German-Americans.” Simultaneously, however, it was reported that the manufacturing facilities of Intertype, now under the control of the receiver, were being used to produce airplane parts and munitions for the British government. A prominent source of the reports was the Hearst-controlled New York American. Ridder sued for libel, seeking $250,000 damages (approximately $5.7 million in 2011$). Creditors who sought to satisfy judgments against him related to the Intertype foreclosure learned that he owned no property that could be seized, though the Staatszeitung continued to be controlled by his family. In mid-May, the New York Times again reported that Ridder had “suffered a breakdown from overwork.” In October, it appeared that he had recovered and resumed his role in public life. A compilation of the war articles was published under the title Hyphenations, noting the role of his son, Bernard H. Ridder in the production of the column. A story in the Staatszeitung over his signature urged German-Americans to create a “great ‘public service’ bank with deposits of $100 million (approximately $2.31 billion in 2011$) and stock offered to the public.[41]

On November 1, Herman Ridder died. To the family, close associates, and the journalistic community, his passing was expected; he had been very ill for almost a year. But his death came as a shock to those in New York and nationally who knew him only through headlines. The cause of death was reported variously as arterial sclerosis and kidney disease. His funeral was attended by German diplomats and more than 1,500 politicians, church leaders, and journalists, as well as “several thousand persons, for the most part admirers of Mr. Ridder, [who were] unable to find places within and stood in the streets in long lines,” according to the New York Times. A memorial service held in Carnegie Hall in February 1916 emphasized his allegiance to America and his service to the country. It was revealed after his death that his son, Bernard, had written the syndicated column under his supervision and that with his twin brothers, Joseph and Victor, Bernard had conducted the affairs of the Staatszeitung and Intertype for many months.

Furthermore, it came to light after the United States had entered the war in 1917, that in 1914, Herman Ridder had unknowingly accepted a loan of $20,000 backed by the funds of German agents.[42] “In 1914 my father, the late Herman Ridder, borrowed money wherever he could procure it in a vain effort to pull through to success the International Typesetting Machine Company. He visited many banks,” Bernard Ridder stated. The German agents included two who provided the funds loaned to Ridder out of their personal accounts, claiming they came instead from financial institutions with German roots, and leading to suspicion that the Staatszeitung’s presentation of the German viewpoint in the developing war was purchased by the loan. “[F]ortunately we were able to prove that not one dollar of this money was used by the Staats Zeitung, for the simple reason the Staats never was financially crippled and needed no aid. Every penny went into the maw created by the International Typesetting Company, which ruined my father financially and physically,” he concluded.[43]

Legacies

The younger Ridder’s explanation was accepted and the initial uproar over the revelation died down. The International Typesetting Company was sold at auction for $1,650,000 (approximately $34.9 million in 2011$) a few weeks before Herman Ridder’s memorial service and renamed the Intertype Company. In 1917, an appeals court approved dismissal of the Mergenthaler Company’s patent infringement suits, and by 1920, Intertype had net earnings of $572,282 (approximately $6.42 million in 2011$). It weathered the Great Depression despite some very lean years. In the late 1940s, it introduced the “Fotosetter,” the first step in conversion of typesetting from a mechanical to an electronic process. After several mergers, the firm Herman Ridder created emerged as the Harris Corporation, a technology company based in Florida’s “Space Coast” with revenue for 2014 of $5 billion.[44]

The Ridder brothers fought anti-German sentiment throughout the First World War, facing “advertiser and newsdealer boycotts and harassment from government intelligence agencies.”  They kept the Staatszeitung alive. Fellow publishers were not so lucky. In 1917, there were fifty German-language dailies nationally with a combined circulation of nearly nine-hundred-and-fifty-thousand. By the end of the war in 1918, only twenty-six survived, with a total circulation of less than two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand. Recognizing that the majority of German-Americans were less dependent on the German-language press than their parents, in 1926 the brothers purchased the English-language Long Island Press and the Journal of Commerce. They next bought a controlling interest in dailies in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, under the name “Ridder Publications, Inc.” or “RPI.” They expanded into California, buying papers in San Jose, Long Beach, and Pasadena. By 1950, there were just sixty German-language papers in the U.S., only seven of which were dailies; in 1953, RPI sold the Staatszeitung to German immigrant August Steuer, under whose proprietorship it became a thrice-weekly, then weekly publication. In 1989 it was purchased by the Rau family. Now headquartered in Sarasota, FL, it covers news of the German communities in New York, Florida, and Philadelphia, and is represented online at http://www.germancorner.com/nystaatsz/.[45]

The Ridder family continued to expand its media holdings, including radio and television stations. In 1969, they took the closely-held corporation public. Adding papers in Indiana, Colorado, and Kansas, RPI became the fourth largest newspaper chain in the U.S. In 1974, it merged with the respected Knight Newspapers, another family firm that had gone public in 1969. Editor & Publisher reported “Knight Ridder” published thirty-five daily papers in twenty-five cities across the United States with a weekday circulation of 3.8 million and staff of fourteen thousand five hundred. At one time, it was the largest newspaper company in the United States. From 1980 through 2004, twelve Knight Ridder papers won a total of forty-seven Pulitzer Prizes.[46]

Family members remained active in the new company. Herman Ridder’s great-grandson, P. Anthony (Tony) Ridder, served as president from 1989 to 1995 and as chairman of the board and CEO from 1995 to 2006, when The McClatchy Company purchased Knight Ridder for $4.5 billion ($4.87 billion in 2010$) in cash and stock. The corporation’s thirty-two-year history reflected Herman Ridder’s interest in leading-edge publishing technology and his leadership of the profession. In 1983, it experimented (unsuccessfully) with the Viewtron, a precursor to today’s digital content providers, and in 2003-2004 Tony Ridder served as chairman of the Newspaper Association of America, created in 1992 as the successor to the ANPA.[47]

Conclusion

Herman Ridder rose from an immigrant home of limited means to the heights of public life in the latter half of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth. A natural entrepreneur, he played key roles journalism; in local, state, national, and international politics; and in the business of newspapers, from the struggle to keep newsprint costs down to the production of economical mechanical typesetting equipment. Though he was in dire financial straits when he died, even the Intertype, which had wiped out his hard-earned fortune and jeopardized his beloved Staatszeitung, turned out to be a great success. His story is one of individual attainment as a result of insight, initiative, and hard work, but it also reflects the crucial role that German Americans played in the United States and in the world during his lifetime. Making the connection with Oswald Ottendorfer changed his life; the Staatszeitung raised him from obscurity and gave him a public persona. His story is thus also the story of the foreign-language press. His very public efforts in his last year to harmonize his loyalty to his ancestral home with his allegiance to his birthplace made life difficult for his heirs during World War I, but in 1931 his contributions to the city of New York were recognized with the dedication of Herman Ridder Junior High School, still operating in the Bronx today.[48]

In 1908, at the height of his powers, the New York Times described him: “There isn’t a more popular man in the Democratic National Headquarters than Herman Ridder. He is everybody’s friend and, what counts for a great deal more in politics, everybody is his friend. Quiet and uneffusive; dignified, yet kindly to the extreme; patient and always anxious to do his very best for every one, no matter whether it’s a stenographer or a State Committeeman; ever ready to listen and to give advice of the highest possible value; smiling, even when very weary with a day’s work as newspaper proprietor, publicist, and National Committee Treasurer; never angry and always optimistic – that’s Herman Ridder.”[49]

Notes

[1] “Herman Ridder Dies at Age of 64,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 2, 1915; Davis Merritt, Knightfall: Knight Ridder and How the Erosion of Newspaper Journalism Is Putting Democracy at Risk (New York: AMACOM: American Management Association, 2005), 30; Genealogical Society of Bergen County, “GSBC Family Files Nov 2014  – Person Page 1106, Mary Gertrude Thiemann, #67011,” (accessed July 14, 2015); “Death of Mrs. Ridder,” Washington Post, November 7, 1907. Mrs. Ridder’s maiden name is listed in some sources, including the GSBC Family Files, as Mary Gertrude Thiemann.

[2]Allon Schoener, New York: An Illustrated History of the People (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1998), 42-43. Carl Wittke, The Germans in America: A Students’ Guide to Localized History  (New York: Teachers College Press, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1967), 9.

[3] “Herman Ridder Dies,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 2, 1915; “Herman Ridder, Editor, Is Dead,” New York Times, November 2, 1915; “Herman Ridder Considered as a Political Lightning Rod,” New York Times, October 11, 1908; Library of Congress and National Endowment for the Humanities, “Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, About Katholisches Volksblatt. (New York-[N.Y.] 1878-1???)” accessed July 18, 2015; “Left His Farm to the Church,” New York Times, August 10, 1897. Ridder’s partner was the longtime rector of New York’s Church of the Assumption. Some sources give the name of the newspaper as the “Katholischer Volksblatt” and Schwenniger as “Schwenninger” or “U.” rather than “Anton B.”

[4] “Herman Ridder, Editor,” New York Times, November 2, 1915; “Obituary Record – Bernard Amend,” New York Times, August 29, 1896; Genealogical Society, “GSBC Family Files Nov 2014 – Person Page 57, Mary C Amend, #67013; Edward B. Amend, #67018; Catherine Johanna Ridder, #67017; William J. Amend, #67021; Anna Marie Ridder, #67020,” (accessed July 19, 2015). Edward B. Amend served twelve years on the Supreme Court of the state of New York (“Justice Amend Dead, Aged 57,” New-York Tribune, October 21, 1914).

[5] Carl Wittke, The German-Language Press in America (Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 1957), 13-15; Wittke, The Germans in America, 13.

[6] Wittke, The German-Language Press, 15-21; Robert E. Park, The Immigrant Press and Its Control (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1922), 253-255.

[7] Wittke, The German Language Press, 44. The spelling of the paper’s name varied through the years, from “New-Yorker Staatszeitung” to “New York Staats-Zeitung” to “New York Staats Zeitung.” To avoid confusion, I will use the original version throughout this article.

[8] Ibid., 44-46.

[9] German Corner, New Yorker Staats-Zeitung,History of a New York City Institution,” (accessed July 19, 2015); “Gotham Gossip,” Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), April 7, 1884; “New Publications,” Evening Post (New York, New York), July 24, 1847; “The German Censorship of the Press,” Evening Post, December 1, 1845; “The Ladies,” Courier-Journal(Louisville, Kentucky), April 7, 1884. Sources differ on Anna Uhl’s maiden name, giving it as “Behr,” “Sartoris,” and “Sartorius; some report her birthdate as February 11, 1815.

[10] Carl Wittke, Refugees of Revolution: The German Forty-eighters in America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1952), 30, 32, 38-39.

[11] “Oswald Ottendorfer, Veteran Editor, Dead,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 16, 1900; “Oswald Ottendorfer Passes Away,” New York Times, December 16, 1900.

[12] “Oswald Ottendorfer Dead,” Morning Times (Washington, DC), December 16, 1900; “Oswald Ottendorfer,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 16, 1900; “New-York City,” New York Times, April 29, 1852; “Paragraphs,” Daily Free Democrat (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), May 10, 1852; “The Woman’s Club,” Times-Picayune, April 20, 1884; Wittke, Refugees, 77 (quoting the Staatszeitung of August 17, 1853; February 28, 1854; and May 10, 1854).

[13] Wittke, Refugees, 142, 182, 195, 200.

[14] “Oswald Ottendorfer,” New York Times, December 16, 1900; Wittke,Refugees, 336-337.

[15] “Oswald Ottendorfer,” Morning Times, December 16, 1900; “Oswald Ottendorfer,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 16, 1900; Wittke, The German Language Press, 82; “Oswald Ottendorfer,” New York Times, December 16, 1900.

[16] “Oswald Ottendorfer,” Morning Times, December 16, 1900; “Oswald Ottendorfer,” New York Times, December 16, 1900; “The Right Thing,” Times-Picayune,November 15, 1876; “Mr. Oswald Ottendorfer Takes a Gloomy View of the Situation,” Times (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), November 17, 1876.

[17] “Mr. Ottendorfer Dead,” New York Tribune, December 16, 1900; “The Woman’s Club,” Times-Picayune, April 20, 1884.

[18] “Gotham Gossip,” Times-Picayune, April 7, 1884; New York Public Library, “About the Ottendorfer Library,” accessed July 20, 2015.

[19] “The Woman’s Club,” Times-Picayune, April 20, 1884; “Funeral of Mrs. Ottendorfer,” New York Times, April 5, 1884.

[20] “A Crowded Court Room,” Marion Star (Marion, Ohio), October 23, 1885; “Ferdinand Ward Guilty,” New-York Tribune, October 29, 1885.

[21] “Herman Ridder… Lightning Rod,” New York Times, October 11, 1908; “The Catholic News Publishing Company Established 1886,” (accessed July 22, 2015). Still under Ridder family control, The Catholic News Publishing Company continues to produce two guides, the Catholic Telephone Guide for the New York region and A Guide to Religious Ministries for Catholic Men and Women.

[22] “Oswald Ottendorfer,” New York Times, December 16, 1900; “Oswald Ottendorfer Dead,” Evening Star (Washington, DC), December 17, 1900; “A Great Newspaper Sold,” Los Angeles Herald, December 20, 1890; “Change in Staats-Zeitung,” Evening World (New York, New York), December 20, 1890.

[23] “Only a Business Change,” New York Times, December 21, 1890; “The Staats Zeitung,” Ottawa Daily Republic, Ottawa, KS, December 22, 1890; “Items of Interest,” Inter Ocean (Chicago), December 23, 1890; “Oswald Ottendorfer,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 16, 1900.

[24] “Pen, Pencil and Brush,” Lawrence Daily Journal, Lawrence, Kansas, May 18, 1891.

[25] “Democrats Protest,” State Chronicle (Raleigh, North Carolina), February 12, 1892; “Cautious,” Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio), October 8, 1892; “For German Democrats,” Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California), August 22, 1892; “Leads for Fusion,” Chicago Daily Tribune, October 7, 1892.

[26] “Surprised the Reformers,” Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City, Utah, September 26, 1895; “Reviewed by Roosevelt,” New York Times, September 26, 1895; “Germans Oppose Maynard,” Evening World, October 30, 1893.

[27] “G.A.R.U. with Tammany,” New York Times, October 10, 1895; “Harmony in New York,” Middletown Daily Argus (Middletown, New York), October 29, 1895.

[28] The tiger was the longtime mascot of Tammany Hall and the Fourteenth Street Wigwam the machine’s longtime meeting place. “Tiger’s Night to Howl,” and “Tammany!” New York Times, November 6, 1895.

[29] “German-Americans,” Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), June 26, 1896; “Mr. Sohmer’s Candidacy,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 17, 1897.

[30] “Oswald Ottendorfer Dead,” Evening Star (Washington, DC), December 17, 1900; “Tributes to Mr. Ottendorfer,” New-York Tribune, December 19, 1900; Ira Rosenwaike, Population History of New York City (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1972), 79, quoting the U.S. Census of 1900; “German League for Low, His Name Cheered Most,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 28, 1901; “Discord Among the German-Americans,” New York Times, August 21, 1901; “German-American Union Promises to Be a Fact,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 20, 1901.

[31] “Associated Press Directors,” New York Times, November 23, 1900; “A.P.’s Annual Meeting,” Sun, April 24, 1912; Oswald Garrison Villard, “Herman Ridder,” Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. 15 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1935), 590-91; “Could Not Pay the Interest Due,” Chicago Daily Tribune, August 12, 1891; “German Publishers Organize,” Harrisburg Daily Independent (Harrisburg, PA), May 18, 1899; “Newspaper Publishers Elect Officers,” Wilkes-Barre Record (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania), February 18, 1899; “To Settle Disputes,” Topeka Daily Capital (Topeka, Kansas), March 20, 1900; Edwin Emery,History of the American Newspaper Publishers Association (Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 1950), 63.

[32] “Arbitration Talked Of,” El Paso Herald (El Paso, Texas), July 18, 1901; the steel companies balked, and ironically, when he retired from the ANPA presidency, Ridder denounced labor for causing inefficiencies in production (“Ridder Attacks Unions,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 27, 1911); Emery, History, 88; Merritt, Knightfall, 30; Emery, History, 57.

[33] Emery, History, 88-109; “Cannon’s Bribery Charge,” Washington Post, November 15, 1909.

[34] Emery, History, 98, 107.

[35] “Ridder Is Kaiser’s Guest,” Pittsburgh Daily Post, August 14, 1906; “Kaiser Admires America,” Washington Post, August 15, 1906; “Kaiser Entertains Ridder,” New York Times, June 13, 1910; “Ridder Asked Bryan to Withdraw in Favor of Somebody Who Could Win,” Topeka Daily Capital, July 4, 1908; “Ridder May Be on the Ticket with Bryan,” Salt Lake Herald, July 5, 1908; “Ridder Is Appointed to Succeed Haskell,” Inter Ocean, September 27, 1908; “Ridder to Bryan’s Rescue,” New York Times, October 29, 1908; “New Treasurer Will Get Busy,” Leavenworth Times (Leavenworth, Kansas), September 29, 1908; “Ridder Is Under Fire Now,” Wellington Daily News (Wellington, Kansas), October 2, 1908; “Kidnaping,” Cincinnati Enquirer, August 5, 1912.

[36] “Boom for Herman Ridder as a Candidate for Mayor,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 9, 1909; “Gaynor Men Loath to Let Ticket Die,” New York Times, September 13, 1913; “Herman Ridder… Lightning Rod,” New York Times, October 11, 1908.

[37] “Speakers and Men of Note at the Press Dinner to Prince Henry Last Night,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 27, 1902; “Vanguard of Dead Starts to the Tomb,” New York Times, June 18, 1904; “Germans Will Sing,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 18, 1909; “Walks and Talks,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 24, 1911; “Citizens Outline July Fourth Plans,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 13, 1912; “All Brooklyn Plans for Big, Safe Fourth,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 3, 1913; “Ridder Heads the List,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 13, 1910; “Catholics in Business and the Professions,” New-York Tribune, April 5, 1908; “Herman Ridder Is a Busy Man,” Times Herald (Olean, New York), March 15, 1911; “Reunion of ‘Old Thirty-Five,’” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 12, 1910.

[38] “The Monoline Composing Company,” Reading Times (Reading, Pennsylvania), June 13, 1893; “Injunction Against the Monoline Company,” Saint Paul Globe (St. Paul, Minnesota), June 30, 1894; “Mergenthaler Linotype,” Inter Ocean, April 21, 1905; “Ask for Accounting,” Washington Post, July 12, 1906; “General News,” Wall Street Journal, November 22, 1911; “New So. Brooklyn Factory,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 16, 1911; “Another Bush Terminal Lease,” Brooklyn Life (Brooklyn, New York), December 23, 1911; “New $5,000,000 Company,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 20, 1912; “Has a Strike on Its Hands,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 19, 1912.

[39] “General News,” Wall Street Journal, November 22, 1911; “New Factory for Brooklyn,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 21, 1912; “Linotype Makers Sue Rival,” Sun, August 30, 1913; “Second Patent Suit,” Wall Street Journal, September 4, 1913; “Third Patent Suit,” Wall Street Journal, September 3, 1914; “Linotype Co.’s Progress,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 18, 1913; “Machine Company Profits $165,735 for Year,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 29, 1914; “Receiver Named,” Cincinnati Enquirer, December 17,1914; “Local Financial and Business Notes,” Washington Post, December 31, 1914; “The Typesetting Decision,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 3, 1915.

[40] “Herman Ridder Not Ill,” New York Times, May 18, 1913; “German and French Views of the War’s Progress,” Washington Post, August 14, 1914; “Socialism May End War, Says Ridder,” New York Times, August 16, 1914; “Special War News Feature,” Scranton Republican, September 24, 1914; “German Side of It by Herman Ridder,” Wall Street Journal, August 17, 1914; “Wireless and the War!” Wall Street Journal, September 23, 1914; “German Confidence Captured!” Wall Street Journal, October 27, 1914; “Germans, Attention!!” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 4, 1914; “Herman Ridder Better,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 21, 1914. Some of Ridder’s commentary is hard to justify. He minimized destruction and loss of life caused by German military and naval actions and indulged in racist rants against Asians. (See Herman Ridder, Hyphenations [New York: Max Schmetterling, 1915].)

[41] “Staats-Zeitung Stock,” Wall Street Journal, March 19, 1915; “Herman Ridder on the German-Americans,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 2, 1915; “Germans Accuse Ridder,” Washington Herald, May 20, 1915; “Ridder Sues Hearst Paper for $250,000,” Sun (New York, New York), August 6, 1915; “Ridder’s Property Held to Be Invisible,” Washington Times, September 1, 1915; “Herman Ridder to Take a Rest,” New York Times, May 18, 1915; “Ridder for a German Bank,” New York Times, October 8, 1915.

[42] “Herman Ridder,” New York Times, November 2, 1915; “Herman Ridder,” Washington Post, November 2, 1915; “Last Honors Paid to Herman Ridder,” New York Times, November 15, 1915; “Tributes of Praise for Herman Ridder,” New York Times, February 21, 1916; “Ridder Inspired Articles,” New York Times, November 2, 1915; “Ridder Received Dernburg Money But Did Not Know Source of Loan, Testifies Bolo Pasha’s Banker,” Washington Post, October 21, 1917.

[43] “Dernburg Gave $15,000 Aid to Herman Ridder,” Sun, October 21, 1917.

[44] “Intertype Company Sold,” Altoona Tribune (Altoona, Pennsylvania), January 25, 1916; “Linotype Not Infringed,” New York Times, March 20, 1917; “Intertype Company Gains,” Washington Post, March 20, 1921; “Experiments Promise Gains from New Printing Methods,” Nashua Telegraph, Nashua, New Hampshire, September 25, 1948; “Harris Corporation,” (accessed July 24, 2015).

[45] Merritt, Knightfall, 30; Wittke, German Language Press, 244, 273; “Chairman of Ridder Publications Dies,” Pasadena Independent (Pasadena, California), April 21, 1966; Merritt, Knightfall, 31; Wittke, German Language Press, 282; German Corner, New Yorker Staats-Zeitung,History of a New York City Institution,” (accessed July 24, 2015).

[46] Merritt, Knightfall, 32; Ellis Cose, The Press (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1989), 341-342; quoted in Merritt, Knightfall, 58; Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy, “Riptide: What Really Happened to the News Business: Tony Ridder,” (accessed July 24, 2015); Merritt, Knightfall, 166-170.

[47] “Newspaper Chain Agrees to a Sale for $4.5 Billion,” New York Times, March 12, 2006; Shorenstein, “Riptide: Tony Ridder”; Cose, The Press, 349-350; PR Newswire (accessed June 24, 2015). For more information about the McClatchy Company, see http://www.mcclatchy.com/about_us/.

[48] NYC Department of Education, Public Art for Public Schools, “Between the Wars: J.H.S. 98 (Herman Ridder), 1931” (accessed July 24, 2015).

[49] “Herman Ridder… Lightning Rod,” New York Times, October 11, 1908.

 

Cite this Entry

APA Style

"Herman Ridder." (2018) In Immigrant Entrepreneurship, Retrieved October 17, 2018, from Immigrant Entrepreneurship: http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=250

Chicago Style

Barber, Marian J. "Herman Ridder." In Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 2, edited by William J. Hausman. German Historical Institute. Last modified September 30, 2015. http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=250

MLA Style

"Herman Ridder," Immigrant Entrepreneurship, 2018, Immigrant Entrepreneurship. 17 Oct 2018 <http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=250>

Photograph of Herman Ridder, ca. 1910

  • An illustration of the building used by the New Yorker Staatszeitung in the late 1850s
  • Engraving of Anna Ottendorfer from the published draft of Carl Schurz's 1884 funeral oration
  • Portrait of Herman Ridder from his 1915 publication, Hyphenations
  • Mayor William J. Gaynor during his re-nomination ceremony, 1913

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