Louis Jennings MP

Louis Jennings MP – Editor of the New York Times and Tory Democrat

ISBN 0 9541573 0 3
Published 2001
150 x 210 mm: 276 pp: 24 b/w illustrations in the text: 2 colour jacket: case bound
Price: £17.99 plus £2.50 postage and packing

Louis Jennings’ career, both in the United States and in England, provides a fascinating illustration of how journalism and politics ran together during the first great age of modern journalism, and offers many insights into late Victorian politics.

Following a year as correspondent of the London Times in India, Jennings spent nine years in the States, including six years – from 1870-76 – as Editor-in-Chief of the New York Times.  Here, his great achievement, in which he had the help of Thomas Nast of Harper’s Magazine, was to overturn the corrupt Boss Tweed.

Earlier, he had been American Correspondent of the London Times immediately after the Civil War, and was successful in rebuilding fences between the Times (which had supported the South) and the Administration of Andrew Johnson.

He married a leading lady of the New York stage, Madeleine Henriques.

Back in England, as a Member of Parliament, he threw in his lot with Lord Randolph Churchill when the latter resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1886.  Throughout his political career he championed Tory Democracy – the Conservative bid for the hearts and minds of newly enfranchised working class voters.  Lord Randolph’s son, Sir Winston Churchill, said that, for Jennings, Tory Democracy was “a living political faith”.

He wrote extensively on political themes for the flagship Victorian periodical, the Quarterly Review, and published numerous books.  He is well known to Victorian historians for his three-volume edition of the papers of John Wilson Croker.

Towards the end of his life he renewed his United States connections, accepting the invitation of James Gordon Bennett Jr to edit a new London edition of the New York Herald.

In its review, the Times Literary Supplement found David Morphet “in full control of his subject”, supporting his conclusion that Jennings’ fatal limitation was his “passion for polemics”.  For the British historian Hugh Brogan, the book is a piece of mosaic “slotted into the great pavement of Victorian history”.

The Victorian Web has a page on Jennings.