CUSHING, EDWARD HOPKINS
CUSHING, EDWARD HOPKINS (1829–1879). Edward Hopkins Cushing, newspaperman and horticulturist, was born in Royalton, Vermont, on June 11, 1829, to Daniel and Nancy (Anthony) Cushing. His father was a farmer and trader, and his mother was the daughter of a prominent Puritan family in Providence, Rhode Island. Hopkins grew up on a farm and showed an early interest in books and learning. He entered Dartmouth at the age of sixteen and graduated in 1850. Hoping to establish himself in a fresh, new land, he traveled to Texas, where he intended to devote himself to teaching. During his first few years in Texas, he taught first at Galveston and later at Brazoria and Columbia. In Columbia he wrote for the local newspaper, the Democrat and Planter. Soon he acquired part ownership in the paper, and by the mid-1850s he had exchanged a career in education for one in journalism.
In 1856 he acquired control of the Houston Telegraph (see TELEGRAPH AND TEXAS REGISTER) from Dr. Frances Moore, whom he replaced as editor. In his role as editor and publisher of the Telegraph for the next thirteen years, Cushing was a tireless booster for the city. His interests were wide-ranging, and he used the columns of his paper to promote southern manufacture, railroads, education, Texas authors, and horticulture and scientific agriculture. The flowers at his estate, Bohemia, were among the most complete collections in the United States. Cushing published books by Texas writers, among them Mollie Evelyn Moore Davis's Poems (1867), Maud Jeannie Young's Familiar Lessons in Botany (1873), and John Sayles's A Treatise on the Practice of the District and Supreme Courts of the State of Texas (1875). When hostilities severed ties with northern publishers, Cushing printed some of the only textbooks available during the Civil War. Among his reprints and adaptations of prewar editions of popular northern books were three volumes of the New Texas Series published in May 1863. He was also a tough but compassionate competitor. In the late 1850s he battled Willard Richardson's Galveston News for dominance in the area, but when his adversary was wiped out by a fire in 1863, Cushing sent newsprint so that Richardson could continue publishing.
Cushing became a staunch Southern-rights Democrat and in 1860 supported John C. Breckinridge for president. He played a key role in publicizing an alleged plot of abolitionists and blacks to overthrow slavery in Texas, thus contributing to the growth of secessionism in the Lone Star State. Cushing established a pony-express route between Houston and army headquarters in Louisiana, with correspondents at important points to convey news from the front. Jefferson Davis noted his actions, and John B. Magruder offered him a commission on his personal staff. The Telegraph never suspended publication during the Civil War, although Cushing was forced on occasion to use butcher's paper and wallpaper to keep his press running. During Reconstruction, because the Telegraph took a position unfavorable to carpetbaggers, Governor Edmund J. Davis advised Andrew Johnson against political pardon for Cushing and suggested hanging him.
Cushing married Matilda Burke. A few years after the war he sold the Telegraph and used the proceeds to purchase a wholesale and retail book and stationery business, which he ran until his death, on January 15, 1879.
Sam Hanna Acheson, 35,000 Days in Texas: A History of the Dallas "News" and Its Forbears (New York: Macmillan, 1938). E. B. Cushing, "Edward Hopkins Cushing: An Appreciation by His Son," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 25 (April 1922). S. W. Geiser, Horticulture and Horticulturists in Early Texas (Dallas: University Press, 1945). S. W. Geiser, "Men of Science in Texas, 1820–1880," Field and Laboratory 26–27 (July-October 1958-October 1959). Donald E. Reynolds, Editors Make War: Southern Newspapers in the Secession Crisis (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1970). Emory M. Thomas, "Rebel Nationalism: E. H. Cushing and the Confederate Experience," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 73 (January 1970). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
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Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on December 14, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.