Police, Press, and Politics

This week it was difficult to find more information about Mayor Sprague and Police Chief Chamberlain, who for a while replaced Police Chief Packard. I did however find the reason that Packard eventually left the position of police chief after eleven consecutive years in the position. “January 1, 1893. The commission was in session, and after a discussion of several burglaries which had taken place upon the Hill, Chief Packard was called into the room and his resignation was asked for” (Weaver). This explains his eventual resignation and it was about crimes upon the Hill, which in my research I believe to be referencing the area around Asylum Hill neighborhood, which is known as one of Hartford’s most iconic, well known historic neighborhoods in the present day. This is the area in which Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe stayed, among a few other notable people (Asylum Hill).

It is also significant to note that Chief Packard was well liked and left office with a large amount of gold worth 110 dollars at the time, and every member of the force contributed towards this gift in gold (Weaver). This is all important in understanding the reign of Chief Packard and the fact that the whole force did indeed like him, despite his previous removal by Mayor Sprague. I did find an interesting lead, with the potential reason for this change of chiefs by Mayor Sprague possibly being related to the Jewish Community. I found a book about the Jewish community in Hartford, and about Mayor Sprague and Chief Chamberlain both attending the opening of a Jewish Synagogue in Hartford. From the book it seems unclear if this alludes to the fact they are both members of the Jewish community or were just attending a celebration held by members in the community (Dalin). I would like to say the strong ties of both men being Jewish explains why Packard was originally replaced. This would also explain the weird behavior and Sprague’s insistence on again hiring Chamberlain after he was forced to resign. I will continue to look into this idea, to try to prove they are both Jewish men, and if needed, look into the growing Jewish community at the time and see if it is relevant to explaining politics and police work. This is the information I have found this week when I tried to find the reason Mayor Sprague had Packard replaced, and I found more information on how the Police force actually felt about Packard, which was positive.


This week I attempted to do more research on the three mayors of Hartford surrounding the general time period of Ada Brown’s case. I specifically focused on Joseph H. Sprague, George G. Sumner, and Morgan G. Bulkeley.

Joseph H. Sprague was mayor of Hartford from April 1874 to April 1878. Though the time that Sprague served as mayor was somewhat earlier than the year that Ada Brown was murdered, I still felt that he was an important figure to try and cover, since last week, Jess researched information that related to a conflict between Mayor Sprague and Police Chief Packard.

However, to my surprise, I uncovered little to no information on the details of Sprague’s time as mayor. He was a member of the Democratic party, and was the twenty-third mayor of Hartford, but other than that, I found very little information on whether he was popular as mayor or not, or how politically savvy he was during his time as mayor.

I uncovered slightly more information about Sprague’s successor, George G. Sumner. Sumner served as mayor from 1878 to 1880, and was also a member of the Democratic party. Sumner seemed to be a popular politician, and a well-received mayor. Later in his life, Sumner fell ill from an undisclosed disease, and an article from the New York Times lamented his failing health, and praised him highly, referring to him as, “the most genial and popular leader of the democracy in Connecticut” (N.Y. Times Article).

The third mayor I researched was Morgan G. Bulkeley, who served as mayor after Sumner from 1880 to 1888. Unlike Sprague and Sumner, Mayor Bulkeley was a member of the Republican party. His father was Judge Eliphalet Adams Bulkeley, who was the first president of Aetna Life Insurance. Morgan Bulkeley became the third president of the company after both his father and his father’s business successor, Thomas Ostrom Enders, had retired. Bulkeley served four terms as mayor of Hartford and had much support from the city of Hartford during these four terms. To quote Hartford in 1912, “[Bulkeley] is qualified by intellect, energy, tact and progressiveness for the great responsibilities as are very few men. Outside of financial circles Mr. Bulkeley is just as well known, having been Mayor of Hartford, Governor of the state and a United States Senator” (Hartford in 1912).

Tying this research back to our original topic of police work in Hartford, one must look at the evidence that has already been found so far. Jess has already found that there was tension between Mayor Sprague and Police Chief Packard, to the point where Packard was asked to resign his position. However, Packard was not reinstated until April of 1882, two years into the first term of Mayor Bulkeley. Though we do not know much about Sprague, we do know that both he and Sumner were Democrats, which could suggest they would have focused on similar agendas during their time as mayor of Hartford. However, Bulkeley was a Republican, which would suggest that his agenda as mayor would have differed from the two mayors who served before him. I am planning on continuing to research more into what specifically being a “Democrat” and “Republican” meant in the United States during the late 1800s, and how a Republican mayor like Morgan Bulkeley would have influenced the city of Hartford leading up to the year of Ada Brown’s murder.


Since last week was a little rough, we decided to research the press a little differently. We looked at what the definition of the press is. We also looked at how The Hartford Courant and The New York Times came about. The reason why we want to also look at The New York Times is so that we have something to compare The Hartford Courant to. We want to eventually look into the difference of how these two papers represent the case.

The definition of ‘the press’ is, “The release of a statement that is written  to communicate directly to certain audiences for the purpose of announcing something ostensibly newsworthy” (Dictionary). To clarify, ‘ostensibly’ means apparently, but perhaps not really (Dictionary).

For Connecticut, The Hartford Courant was a great source for bringing in news and history unlike any other paper. People were well informed of the important events that happened locally and nationally. The paper was founded prior to American Independence, and is one of the oldest newspapers in the US due the fact that it is still publishing today (Connecticut History). The paper was founded in October of 1764. At the time it was called The Connecticut Courant but it eventually changed to The Hartford Courant (Connecticut History). We couldn’t find what year it was actually changed but we do know that it was changed. The author of the newspaper, Thomas Green, made his first issue just four pages long, with the hopes of informing the world about important events that would happen locally and nationally (Connecticut History). Green sold his paper to his assistant, Ebenezer Watson, who then built his own paper mill nearby to decrease the paper shortage. When Watson died from smallpox in 1777, his wife, Hannah Bunce Watson, took over the paper and became, “one of the first female publishers in America” (Connecticut History). Interestingly enough, The Hartford Courant covered The Stamp Act, The Boston Tea Party, and even printed out a copy of the Declaration of Independence (Connecticut History). The paper also originally covered important events around the colonies, such as the Revolutionary War. After the war, the paper started printing out ads for people like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. When a new transportation era came about, it published Robert Fulton’s steamboat voyage, which went from Albany to New York City (Connecticut History). The paper also published articles with pro-slavery sentiments, which were to help capture slaves that ran away.

We also looked at the history of The New York Times. The New York Times was founded in 1851 by Henry Jarvis Raymond and George Jones. The original name for the paper was The New York Daily Times (Nytco). When Raymond died in 1886, Jones took over as publisher for the paper. They covered events such as the first telephone being made, the use of electricity, and even when the first ball dropped on Times Square to celebrate the new year (Nytco). We couldn’t find as much information from scholarly websites. There is more information out there about the history of The New York Times but a lot of information that we wanted to include came from wikipedia and encyclopedia sources.

You’re probably wondering how this ties into the Ada Brown case. We wanted to show the differences between the two papers because both of the papers talked about the murder case. As we have stated before, The Hartford Courant sensationalized women.  “In one article, when they are talking about Ada Brown’s murder,  they say “Ada Brown, aged 28, a fallen woman, was killed” (Article 1, Hartford Courant). By bringing to the front the view that Ada Brown was morally depraved and “fallen,” the press was able to sensationalize her death, while simultaneously degrading her status as a woman. Morality was still an important topic in the 1880s and this shows through by the press emphasizing Ada’s frowned-upon lifestyle” (Brenna, Grace, and Jess). The New York Times talks about the case differently. As an opening statement they say, “a remarkable trial for manslaughter has been in progress in the in the supreme court” (NYT 1, Dossier Materials). The paper seem to get straight to the point rather than sensationalize people. When they referred to Ada, they made her seem like a human being rather than an object. It is interesting because they don’t sugar coat what went on the night of the murder, and it made more sense to us than reading The Hartford Courant version of events.




Works Cited

“The Definition of Media.” Dictionary.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.

By 1925 It Will Have 100 Photographers and Assistants. Sold to The A.P. in 1941. “Menu.” The New York Times Company. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.

“ConnecticutHistory.org.” ConnecticutHistoryorg The Oldest US Newspaper in Continuous Publication Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.

Dalin, David G., and Jonathan Rosenbaum. Making a Life: Building a Community. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1998. Print.

“Asylum Hill.” LiveHartford. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.

Weaver, Thomas S. Historical Sketch of the Police Service of Hartford, from 1636 to 1801, from Authoritative Sources. Illustrating and Describing the Economy, Equipment and Effectiveness of the Police Force of To-day. With Reminiscences of the Past, including Some Notes of Important Cases. Hartford: Hartford Police Mutual Aid Association, 1901. Print.

Mayors of Hartford. HartfordHistory.net, 1999-2013, http://www.hartfordhistory.net/mayors.html. Accessed 30 October 2016.

Hartford in 1912: Story of the Capital City, Present and Prospective. Hartford Post, 1912. Online. https://archive.org/details/hartfordin1912st00hart. Accessed 30 October 2016.

“A Popular Politician; The Hon. George G. Sumner of Connecticut in Very Bad Health.” The New York Times. Accessed October 29, 2016. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9C0CE1D61E38E533A25751C2A96F9C94689FD7CF.


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