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Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 2.djvu/360

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The Guest of Bismarck.—1890

MR. VILLARD'S financial successes with the Kansas Pacific and the Oregon Railway & Navigation had made him in a few years a rich man, although his accumulations were by no means so great as they were reputed to be. As soon as he had an abundance, he bethought himself of ways of benefiting others. What he then did for the Fatherland has already been related. He was equally desirous to use his means for the benefit of his adopted country. Having been a journalist, he knew well the power of the press for good or evil, and that led him to the idealistic conception that he could render no better public service than by founding, or getting control of, a newspaper of absolute independence and outspokenness on public matters, one devoted to the discovery and advocacy of truth, regardless of party and of all other considerations, and with such recognized ability in editorial management as would secure for it not only a local but a national influence. The idea ripened into a fixed purpose when the cooperation of his friend Horace White was assured by the latter's removal to New York, and when Mr. Villard ascertained from Carl Schurz that he would be glad to be one of the editors, upon the expiration of his term of office as Secretary of the Interior, and that Edwin L. Godkin was willing to enlarge his sphere of journalistic activity as editor of the Nation by joining the two other eminent men.

Having accidentally learned in 1881 that the Commercial Advertiser was for sale in New York, he authorized Horace White to enter into negotiations for its purchase;