Daggett, Rollin M(allory) 1831-1901

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DAGGETT, Rollin M(allory) 1831-1901

PERSONAL: Born February 22, 1831, in Defiance, OH; died November 12, 1901, in San Francisco, CA; married Maggie Curry, 1868; children: two daughters. Politics: Republican.

CAREER: Journalist and politician. Defiance Democrat, Defiance, OH, printer's devil, 1840s; miner, California, c. 1849-50; printer in San Francisco, CA, early 1850s; Golden Era, San Francisco, co-founder and editor, 1852-60; San Francisco Daily Evening Mirror, San Francisco, cofounder and editor, 1860-62; Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, Virginia City, NV, editor, 1862-75, 1877-78. U.S. circuit and District Courts for Nevada, clerk, 1867; U.S. presidential election, Republican elector, 1876; U.S. House of Representatives, representative, 1878-81; U.S. minister to Hawaii, 1882-85.


(With Joseph T. Goodman) The Psychoscope: A Sensational Drama in Five Acts, privately printed (Virginia City, NV), 1871.

Railroad Wrongs in Nevada (speech), [Washington, DC,] 1881.

Braxton's Bar: A Tale of Pioneer Years in California (novel), G. W. Carleton (New York, NY), 1882.

(Editor) David Kalakaua, The Legends and Myths of Hawaii: The Fables and Folk-Lore of a Strange People, Webster (New York, NY), 1888.

Contributor to periodicals, including San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Morning Call, and San Francisco Chronicle.

SIDELIGHTS: Rollin M. Daggett was a literary journalist and publisher who co-founded and edited such periodicals as the Golden Era and the San Francisco Daily Evening Mirror during the decade immediately following the California gold rush of 1849. Daggett, born in 1831 in Defiance, Ohio, worked as a printer's devil—a printing apprentice—for the Defiance Democrat before heading west in 1849 to seek his fortune. His journey involved numerous frontier adventures, including disease and encounters with Native Americans and wild cattle. Once in California, however, Daggett struggled as a miner and soon returned to his trade as a printer in San Francisco. By 1852 he and business partner J. Macdonough Foard had established the Golden Era, a literary journal that Daggett promoted as a "Good Family Paper calculated for circulation in every parlor and miners cabin." The publication, which emphasized frontier stories, proved successful among readers in the California mining camps, and attracted several well-known contributors, including John R. Ridge, who published under the pseudonym "Yellow Bird," E. G. "Don Jr." Paide, the humorist A. "Old Block" Delano, and Charles Warren Stoddard "Pip" Pepperwood. Described by Jack A. Nelson in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as "a literary journal that for half a century was a powerful force on the West Coast," the Golden Era gained distinction for printing the prose debut of Bret Harte and for helping establish the careers of many western writers, including Mark Twain. Daggett himself wrote adventure stories and sketches for the journal under such pseudonyms as "Blunderbuss" and "Korn Kob." Eventually, the paper began offering reviews of San Francisco area theatrical productions.

In 1860 Daggett sold his interest in the Golden Era and turned to newspaper publishing. He and Foard co-founded a Republican daily called the San Francisco Daily Evening Mirror, but it lacked the success of their earlier publication. In 1862 Daggett pulled out of the business and moved to Virginia City, Nevada, where he assumed editorship of the Territorial Enterprise, one of the region's most influential newspapers. That August he hired Samuel Clemens to contribute humorous stories of camp life, and, adopting the pen name Mark Twain, Clemens remained on the staff until 1864. In 1867 Daggett became clerk of the U.S. circuit and district courts for Nevada, and got embroiled in local politics. In 1876 he was chosen as a presidential elector. He won election to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican in 1878. His impassioned speech, Railroad Wrongs in Nevada, was published in 1881. Although Daggett lost his bid for re-election, he was appointed minister to Hawaii in 1882 and for three years enjoyed island life. He befriended King David Kalakaua and edited his Legends and Myths of Hawaii: The Fables and Folk-Lore of a Strange People in 1888. Following his return to California in the mid-1880s, Daggett resumed contributing to literary periodicals and completed Braxton's Bar: A Tale of Pioneer Years in California.



Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 79: American Magazine Journalists 1850-1900, Gale (Detroit), 1989, pp. 111-114.

Weisenberger, Francis Phelps, Idol of the West The Fabulous Career of Rollin Mallory Daggett, Syracuse University Press, 1965.*