Austin H. Brown acquired complete control of the paper in 1850 and made it a year-round daily on April 28, 1851. The Sentinel changed hands at least six times during the next decade, which partly contributed to the paper’s loss of influence and subscribers. During the Civil War years, the Daily State Sentinel and the weekly Indiana State Sentinel were vocal critics of the Republican-controlled government. The Sentinel’s editor, Joseph J. Bingham, was arrested by the army for treason and conspiracy. Bingham ultimately turned government witness in the Indianapolis trial by military commission in 1864 of Harrison H. Dodd and others accused of involvement in a Copperhead conspiracy. This turmoil contributed to the decline of the Sentinel. In July 1865, Charles W. Hall and a partner acquired the paper and changed its name to the Indianapolis Daily Herald. Fifteen months later, the newspaper went into receivership. In 1868, its name reverted back to the Indianapolis Daily Sentinel, and there also appeared a weekly edition, the Indiana State Sentinel. The paper continued to change hands until 1872 when it was acquired by the Sentinel Company, which dropped “Daily” from the title. Circulation figures for the daily edition averaged about 6,000 between 1869 and 1888. The name was changed several more times over the next few years before finally returning to the Indianapolis Sentinel in 1880. The Sentinel’s weekly edition, with a strong readership among Indiana farmers and stock-raisers, enjoyed a circulation of 12,000 during this period.
In February 1888, Samuel E. Morss purchased the paper and helped to return the Sentinel to the level of influence it had enjoyed back in the 1850s. Morss came to the Sentinel after editing the Fort Wayne Gazette and Fort Wayne Daily Sentinel and co-founding the Kansas City [MO] Evening Star. According to a contemporary source, the Sentinel under Morss “has been constantly progressive and eminently the advocate and champion of clean politics, good government and civil service reform.” During Morss’s tenure (1888-1903), circulation averaged 18,091 for the daily (which was issued as the Indianapolis Globe for a few weeks in 1903), and 49,389 for the weekly edition. Despite these impressive figures, the Sentinel faced growing competition and financial difficulties. The paper had failed to take a stand on the dominant political question of 1890s regarding free silver and consequently lost subscriptions and advertising revenue. In an effort to lure back readers and to compete with cheaper papers, the weekly subscription rate was dropped from a dollar to fifty cents in 1898, causing circulation to spike to 100,000 in 1901-05. The daily’s yearly subscription was also reduced from six dollars to three dollars. Morss died unexpectedly on October 23, 1903. A group led by Democratic National Committee Chairman Thomas Taggart took over the Sentinel for a few months before Frank T. Baker purchased it. Under Baker, the Sentinel adopted a more sensationalist tone associated with the yellow press. The Indianapolis Sentinel ceased publication on February 25, 1906.
Provided by: Indiana State Library
Support for this collection provided by the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) Library Fund.