The Pacific Commercial Advertiser Now Available up to 1903!Posted: April 21, 2014
The Pacific Commercial Advertiser
The Pacific Commercial Advertiser (PCA) debuted in Honolulu on July 2, 1856, when Hawaiʻi was in the throes of westernization and the resulting decline of the Native Hawaiian culture and population. Owner and editor Henry Martyn Whitney called the PCA an “opposition paper,” because “The whalemen wanted an American newspaper and the white residents wanted one that was not run ‘by authority'” (referring to the Hawaiian government-sponsored Polynesian, according to Whitney’s obituary. He based the PCA upon the New-York Commercial Advertiser, where he had been employed. Whitneywas the first newspaperman in Honolulu to meet ships off port in a boat to pick up foreign newspapers, as was often done in New York. Initially the Pacific Commercial Advertiser was published every Thursday. In 1882 a daily (except Sunday) edition was also published. In May 1888 the weekly edition ceased.
The PCA provided local political and legislative news and news of the neighbor islands, in addition to international news. Although the target audience was English-speaking, in the newspaper’s first two and one-half months, a Hawaiian-language section titled “Ka Hoku Loa o Hawaii” (The Morning Star of Hawaii) filled the PCA’s last page.
As an English-language newspaper serving the minority Caucasian community in Hawaiʻi, the PCA supported the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, noting that it was “natural, logical and as common in the world’s history as it is natural and common to throw away a ragged coat” and was “a step forward.” The PCA faulted Native Hawaiians for the overthrow and criticized King Kaläkaua’s monarchy for “[committing] suicide.” Encouraging American annexation, a January 14, 1898 PCA editorial stated, “To expect the natives, with their Polynesian antecedents, their ignorance of the science of government, and their natural child-like love for their old environments, their love for the old native Monarch, to submit without some sort of protest to the new order of things, is to expect them to rise higher in the scale of reasoning beings than any white man on these islands has yet risen.”
Whitney had sold the PCA to James H. Black and William Auld on September 1, 1870. When Auld retired on June 1, 1875, Black became the sole owner. Thereafter the PCA experienced many ownership changes; owners included Henry L. Sheldon in 1876, Walter Murray Gibson on September 1, 1880, the Hawaiian Gazette Company (publisher of the newspaper Hawaiian Gazette) in 1888, and Lorrin Andrews Thurston in 1898. On March 31, 1921 Thurston renamed the Pacific Commercial Advertiser the Honolulu Advertiser, which eventually became known as one of the oldest newspapers published west of the Rockies.
The Honolulu Advertiser competed fiercely with the Honolulu Star-Bulletin for the next 60 years, eventually dominating the local newspaper market in the 1980s. Black Press, owner of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, purchased the Honolulu Advertiser on February 25, 2010. The two newspapers were merged on June 6, 2010, to become the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, thus turning Honolulu into a one-newspaper town.
Provided by: University of Hawaii at Manoa; Honolulu, HI