Galveston Civilian

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: June 9, 2020

The Civilian, a Galveston newspaper, was published from June 1838 to 1886, except between 1862 and 1865. It began as a weekly and after 1857 issued both daily and weekly editions. For a time in the 1850s a daily appeared during the busy season from September 1 to April 1, and the paper was published as a semiweekly, triweekly, or weekly during the slow season. It was known throughout the republic and the state as the Civilian, but it actually had several changes of name, among them Civilian and Galveston City Gazette (1838–39), Civilian and Galveston Gazette (1840–51), and Civilian and Gazette (1852–60). After the daily edition was established the name indicated frequency of publication: the Semi-Weekly Civilian and Gazette, the Galveston Tri-Weekly Civilian, and the Galveston Daily Civilian.

Hamilton Stuart is generally considered to be the founder and, until 1847, the sole editor; that year he was joined by Samuel J. Durnett. According to some sources, however, Robert A. Irion and Levi Jones founded the paper with Stuart. The Civilian was first published on June 7, 1838, at Houston in the office of the Telegraph and Texas Register. Though the Telegraph was enthusiastic in support of Mirabeau B. Lamar, the new paper from the same press attacked him. In 1839 the Civilian was transferred from Houston to Galveston, where Samuel May Williams and Jones abandoned it. There it promoted the economic development of Galveston.

The paper's survival was assured because it carried advertisements for McKinney and Williams and for the Galveston City Company. Its news columns were devoted to "Commercial Intelligence, Agriculture, Foreign and Domestic News, Literature and Amusement," and sought to encourage immigration to Texas from the United States. Though its name was reputedly chosen as a protest against the practice of affixing military titles to names of men who were not especially noted as soldiers, the paper backed the Texas army and navy and tried through editorials to keep up the military spirit in the republic. Accusations that the paper was subsidized surfaced in the 1841 campaign, when it supported Sam Houston, and an extra was published on September 29, 1842, when the editors learned that Mexican soldiers had advanced to the Medina River, twenty-four miles from San Antonio.

John Henry Brown was a member of the publishing firm from 1854 to 1858. In 1857 the Civilian installed the first steam-powered press in the state. In January 1860 Adolph Menard bought Durnett's interest and became junior editor. W. H. Pascoe acquired an interest in the paper in 1868, and John S. Thrasher of the New York Herald became a part owner and editor in 1869. In 1874 Stuart sold his interest in the paper. As editor he had consistently supported Sam Houston's policies until Houston was removed from office in 1861. Galveston could not support two daily papers, and competition with the Galveston News caused the Civilian to suspend publication in 1886.

Joe B. Frantz, Newspapers of the Republic of Texas (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1940). Mary Glasscock Frazier, Texas Newspapers during the Republic (March 2, 1836-February 19, 1846) (M. Journ. thesis, University of Texas, 1931). Marilyn M. Sibley, Lone Stars and State Gazettes: Texas Newspapers before the Civil War (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1983). Ben C. Stuart, "Hamilton Stuart: Pioneer Editor," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 21 (April 1918). John Melton Wallace, Gaceta to Gazette: A Checklist of Texas Newspapers, 1813–1846 (Austin: University of Texas Department of Journalism, 1966). Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970). WPA Historical Records Survey Program, Texas Newspapers (Houston: San Jacinto Museum of History Association, 1941).

  • Journalism
  • Newspapers

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Galveston Civilian,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 16, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 9, 2020