The Republican-American, is a family-owned newspaper based in Waterbury, Connecticut. It is the result of the combination of two separate newspapers – the Waterbury American and the Waterbury Republican.
The Waterbury American first appeared as a four-page, weekly newspaper, published by Josiah Giles on December 14, 1844. Waterbury’s first newspaper quickly grew in size and circulation and by 1850 it was the fourth largest newspaper in Connecticut. On May 22, 1866 it became a daily newspaper published in the afternoon.
On October 29, 1881 the Waterbury Republican made its debut as a weekly newspaper published by John Henry Morrow. Within three years, it became a daily newspaper - first published on January 2, 1884 in the afternoon slot. Two years later the publisher switched to a morning publication and it has remained so ever since.
In 1901, William Jamieson Pape, formerly of the Passaic Daily News in New Jersey, decided to acquire his own newspaper. He formed a partnership with another newsman, William M. Lathrop (news editor of Pennsylvania Grit), and purchased the Waterbury Republican. At first, the Republican was slow to gain circulation and was up against two other competitors in the city, but things changed the following year. A massive fire in 1902 destroyed much of the downtown area of the city. The extensive coverage given by the Waterbury Republican resulted in a huge increase in its circulation.
William J. Pape became sole owner of the Republican in 1910 and in 1922 acquired the Waterbury American. The two newspapers continued to be published – the Republican in the morning and the American in the afternoon. The Sunday Republican first appeared on October 7, 1906 and continues publication today.
In 1924, the Republican and American began printing their Sunday comic pages in color and started selling their color printing services to other newspapers. A few years later, Pape founded a separate company, Eastern Color Printing Company, to oversee the color printing end of the business. In 1934, it produced what is considered the first modern comic book, named Famous Funnies. It featured the adventures of Mutt and Jeff, Donald Dare the Demon Reporter, Buck Rogers and other comic characters.
In the 1930s, publisher Pape became suspicious of a sudden rise in voter registrations in the city. Suspecting something was amiss, he directed the Republican and American reporters to start digging into the matter. They found names of voters on the lists who had died or who had long before moved out of town. As a result of their efforts, the Democratic and Republican registrars of voters were removed from office.
Pape was also suspicious about the honesty and integrity of Waterbury’s mayor, T. Frank Hayes. Hayes held two offices at the time; he had been mayor of Waterbury since 1930 and Connecticut’s lieutenant governor since 1935. The city had slipped deeper into debt during the Hayes administrations, but the city’s unusually high tax rate didn’t seem to offset the debt. In 1937, Sherwood Rowland, grandfather of former Connecticut governor John G. Rowland, was elected city comptroller. He uncovered what he thought might be a scandal involving millions of dollars illegally funneled to Hayes and his cohorts and began feeding information to the Republican. The following year a grand jury indicted 27 individuals of conspiracy and fraud. Twenty-three of them were convicted in what was Connecticut’s longest trial on record.
In 1940, as a result of their persistent and in-depth coverage of the Hayes administration’s scandals, the Waterbury Republican and American were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service.
The headquarters for the Republican-American is now located in the city’s former Union Station built in 1909 for the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. It was designed by the renowned architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White. The base of the building is made of Stony Creek pink granite; the herringbone ceilings that graced the vaulted waiting room are constructed with Guastavino tiles (also used in New York’s Grand Central Terminal and the adjacent Oyster Bar); and the station’s prominent clock tower, embellished with eight gargoyles, was modeled after the Torre del Mangia on the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena Italy. The tower’s bell was added in 1916.
The Pape family purchased the building in 1952 to house their growing newspaper business and renovated it to suit its new use. With its 240-foot clock and bell tower, the Republican-American headquarters dominates the Waterbury skyline and is the landmark building for everyone who passes through the city.
William J. Pape maintained his position of publisher of the two newspapers until his death in 1961 when the reins of the business were passed to his son, William B. Pape, who served until 1972. The founder’s grandson, William J. Pape II, grew up in the newspaper business, graduated from the United States Naval Academy and Harvard Business School, and has followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather as the current publisher.
In 1990, the Republican and American were combined on the masthead of a single newspaper - the Republican-American, published mornings six days a week.
The newspaper’s reach extends far beyond Waterbury and covers more than 36 communities including Greater Waterbury, the Naugatuck Valley, and Litchfield County. Municipalities and villages in the newspaper's coverage area include, Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethlehem, Bridgewater, Canaan, Cheshire, Colebrook, Cornwall, Falls Village, Goshen, Harwinton, Kent, Litchfield, Middlebury, Morris, Naugatuck, New Hartford, New Milford, North Canaan, Oxford, Plymouth, Prospect, Roxbury, Salisbury, Seymour, Sharon, Southbury, Terryville, Thomaston, Torrington, Warren, Washington, Waterbury, Watertown, Winchester, Winsted, Wolcott, and Woodbury.
The newspaper has been recognized nationally and regionally for excellent reporting and photography including the Livingston Award from the University of Michigan for meritorious local news reporting, the Scripps-Howard Award for Meritorious Public Service and the Society of Professional Journalists’ National Sunshine Award. Four editors and reporters have been elected to the New England Academy of Journalists.
The Republican-American has a socially and fiscally conservative editorial stance. It advocates pro-business government policies, such as tax cuts and regulatory reform. The Republican-American is quick to blow the whistle on wasteful use of tax dollars, as well as unnecessary growth of local, state or federal government. The newspaper is a frequent critic of the demands of organized labor, especially public-employee unions, arguing they compel governments and businesses to spend beyond their means. The Republican-American believes the United States should project strength on the world stage. The newspaper asserts that if the U.S. is not quick to forcefully denounce and, if necessary, take action against aggressive and anti-democratic actions by anti-American regimes and groups, America's enemies will be emboldened. Because of its stance on the issues, the Republican-American is more inclined to endorse Republican candidates in election years. However, the paper is not hesitant to support Democrats who share its views or are uniquely qualified for the positions they seek.
The Republican-American has a conservative editorial stance. It has accused Senator Chris Dodd of being "chief apologist for the communist tyrants," Senate candidate Ned Lamont of being a Stalinist, and claimed "Marxists-Socialists" control the Democratic Party.
The newspaper trade publication Editor & Publisher criticized the Republican-American's editorial page for its "McCarthyism" and "red-baiting", and for an August 2005 editorial, "Is New Orleans Worth Reclaiming?" which called for the abandonment of New Orleans post-Katrina.