New Orleans Daily Crescent

Orleans Parish

In 1848, Alexander H. Hayes (d. 1866) and J. E. “Sam” McClure, both formerly of the New Orleans Daily Delta, founded the Daily Crescent, a newspaper best known for its association with the poet Walt Whitman, who co-edited the paper but was fired after a few months because of his antislavery views, and William Walker, the famous filibuster who in the 1850s led several private military expeditions to Central America in an attempt to establish an English-speaking, slaveholding empire. Reorganized as the New Orleans Daily Crescent in 1851 under the management of John Wesley Crockett (1807-1852), a son Davy Crockett, the paper was purchased in 1854 by New Jersey native James Oscar Nixon (1822-1891). Nixon had moved to Louisiana as a teenager and worked in the clothing business. During the Civil War, he served as a lieutenant colonel of a Louisiana cavalry regiment, was taken prisoner, and then paroled to the home of his brother, a prominent banker, in New Jersey. In his absence, publication of his newspapers was suspended by military order following the Federal capture of New Orleans; it did not resume until October 1865.

In the 1850s, the Crescent carried local, national, and international news of a miscellaneous nature. Although it discussed politics, including arguments over slavery (it was strongly proslavery), it also advertised itself as a “family paper,” carrying fiction, poetry, and essays. With the outbreak of the Civil War, reporting focused heavily on military matters. Politics constituted the bulk of articles in postwar issues, and though the Crescent adopted a moderate tone, it freely criticized political leaders. Much of the paper consisted of commercial news and advertisements, along with announcements related to schools, academies, social clubs, and fraternal organizations. The local theater and opera scene is well documented.

The word “daily” was dropped from the paper’s title in 1866, becoming the New Orleans Crescent, even though it continued to be published six days a week. A weekly edition, the Weekly Crescent, was also published. Both ceased in 1869 when Nixon sold out to Charles A. Weed, a Connecticut businessman and publisher of the New- Orleans Times. Founded in 1863 as a Unionist newspaper, the Times had taken over the Crescent’s printing plant during the Civil War.