San Antonio Zeitung

By: Jonathan Randel

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: April 28, 2016

The San Antonio Zeitung, a "Social-Democratic Newspaper for the Germans in West Texas," began weekly publication as San Antonio's first German-language newspaper on July 1, 1853, under the editorship of C. D. Adolph Douai, a German-born scholar, teacher, and social reformer. The newspaper, written largely in German, was aimed at the large German population in San Antonio and the surrounding region. In a prospectus Douai announced that the Zeitung would regard every political question from the viewpoint of social progress. He published the free-soil platform adopted by the Texas State Convention of Germans in 1854 and in a series of editorials attacked the institution of slavery as an evil incompatible with democratic government, a form of government that required "free tillers of their own soil." Despite the fact that the Zeitung was primarily a German-language paper, it regularly published antislavery articles in English, so that, in August Siemering's words, "the attention of the Americans was soon drawn to it." The paper's abolitionist stance quickly elicited a storm of controversy and became a target of the proslavery American (Know-Nothing) party. Sentiment was so hostile that members of the local Turnverein (see TURNVEREIN MOVEMENT) volunteered to protect the newspaper offices from proslavery mobs. Douai retaliated in print, attacking the Know-Nothings in editorials with such titles as "How to Put Down a Know-Nothing." The stockholders of the Zeitung, sharply divided over the slavery issue, decided to sell the paper. Douai, however, was determined to continue publishing the paper and with the aid of a number of northern abolitionists, including Frederick Law Olmsted, purchased it in late 1854. But many merchants, fearful of being associated with the abolitionists, withdrew their advertisements from the paper, and several German communities passed resolutions publicly condemning it. Douai continued doggedly and in the February 9, 1855, issue of the Zeitung went so far as to declare that western Texas must be free. In May 1856, with ill-feeling mounting and revenues on the decline, he was forced to sell the paper. It was purchased by a member of the opposition, Gustav Schleicher, who took over the publication and renamed it the San Antonio Staats-Zeitung. Douai left Texas that year and settled in Boston, where he continued his educational and political work.

Rudolph L. Biesele, The History of the German Settlements in Texas, 1831–1861 (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1930; rpt. 1964). Rudolph L. Biesele, "The Texas State Convention of Germans in 1854," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 33 (April 1930). Adolf Douai Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Jacobina Burch Harding, A History of the Early Newspapers of San Antonio, 1823–1874 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1951). Olmsted Papers, Library of Congress, Washington. Laura Wood Roper, "Frederick Law Olmsted and the West Texas Free-Soil Movement," American Historical Review 56 (October 1950). Marilyn M. Sibley, Lone Stars and State Gazettes: Texas Newspapers before the Civil War (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1983).

  • Journalism
  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Newspapers

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

Jonathan Randel, “San Antonio Zeitung,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 23, 2022,

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April 28, 2016