Anne Royall, by some accounts the first professional woman journalist
in the United States, was born Anne Newport Baltimore, Maryland.
grew up in the western frontier of Pennsylvania before her family
migrated south to the mountains of western Virginia. There she
met American Revolution major and freemason William Royall. Anne
wed Royall in 1797, who introduced her to the works of Shakespeare
and Voltaire. The couple lived comfortably until his death in
1812, which touched off litigation between Anne and Royall's relatives,
who claimed his will was a forgery. After seven years, the will
was nullified and Anne was left with just a small amount of money.
Anne spent the next four years traveling around Alabama, writing
letters to a friend about the evolution of the young state that
were eventually turned into a manuscript published as Letters
from Alabama. She also penned a novel called The Tennessean before
setting off for Washington D.C..
arrived in Washington in 1824 to petition for a federal pension
as the widow of a veteran — under the pension law at the
time, widows had to plead their cases before Congress. She remained
unsatisfied until Congress passed a new pension law in 1848. Even
then, her husband's family claimed most of her pension money.
in Washington attempting to secure a pension, Anne caught President
John Quincy Adams during one of his usual early morning baths
in the Potomac River. Reportedly, Anne gathered the president's
clothes and sat on them until he answered her questions, earning
her the first presidential interview ever granted to a woman.
afterward supported Anne's petition for a pension. He also invited
her to visit his wife, Louisa Adams, at their home in Washington,
which she did. Mrs. Adams gave her a white shawl when she journeyed
north to obtain proof of her husband's military service.
Anne toured New England, Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts,
all the while taking copious notes and using her Masonic connections
to help fund her travels.
Boston, she stopped in on former President John Adams to give
him an update on his son and daughter-in-law. Then in 1826, at
age 57, she published her notes in a book titled Sketches of History,
Life and Manners in the United States. Her previous manuscript
The Tennessean would follow a year later.
books and public stances on issues caused a stir and earned her
some powerful enemies. In 1829, Anne Royall returned to Washington,
D.C. and began living on Capitol Hill, near a fire house. The
firehouse, which had been built with federal money, had been allowing
a small church to use its facilities for their services. Royall
objected to their using the building as a blurring of the lines
between church and state. She also claimed that some of the congregation's
children began throwing stones at her windows.
member of the congregation began praying silently beneath her
window and others visited her in an attempt to convert her, she
claimed. Royall responded to their taunts with cursing and was
arrested. She was charged with being a "public nuisance,
a common brawler and a common scold," for which she was fined
$10. Two reporters from Washington's newspaper, The National Intelligencer,
paid the fine. Embarrassed by the incident, Royall left Washington
to continue traveling.
in Washington in 1831, she published a newspaper from her home
with the help of a friend, Sally Stack. The paper, Paul Pry, exposed
political corruption and fraud. Sold as single issues, it contained
her editorials, letters to the editor and her responses, and advertisements.
Royall hired orphans to set the type and faced constant financial
woes, which were exacerbated when postmasters refused to deliver
her issues to subscribers.
Huntress replaced Paul Pry in 1836 and continued to expose waste
in Washington's bureaucracy. Anne Royall continued to publish
The Huntress until her death at age 85 in 1854, bringing an end
to her 30-year news career.
all countries, and in all ages, from the Druids down to brother
Beecher, priests have aimed at universal power."
and bigotry require any food but common sense and reason, which
would break the charm of those spellbound fanatics."
bible people remind me of another calamity similar to this missionary
scheme, when our people, or any christian power would go to Africa
for the pious purpose of kidnapping negroes, the mother would
cry out to her children "run, run, the christians are coming,"
so when ever you hear "bibles," run for your life, if
you do not want your pockets picked, or to be insulted and slandered
as I was.... and if you hear "hopeful conversions" or
the "gospel," don't stop to look behind you."
find that the whole weight of relieving human misery and distress
falls on the shoulders of those Heretics and Infidels; and though
great part of this distress has been occasioned by those ravening
wolves' hopeful converts."
late proceedings of those daring invaders to establish a national
religion have opened the eyes of all lovers of liberty and religion....
I have been told they have thrown off the mask and are preaching
to the people to elect none but godly men to represent them in
the General and State Legislatures; ... what they mean by godly
people, is people of their own stamp..."
a pestilence [they] cover the land; not to scatter blessings amongst
the distressed, root out ignorance, ... or diffuse the lights
of knowledge, to ennoble the age, or amend mankind; not to break
the chains of slavery,or teach man his religious or political
duties, or cultivate the arts and sciences, no; quite the reverse.
Their object and their interest is to plunge mankind into ignorance,
to make him a bigot, a fanatic, a hypocrite, a heathen, to hate
every sect but his own, (the orthodox,) to shut his eyes against
the truth, harden his heart against the distress of his fellow
man, and purchase heaven by money."