Carpenter, Stephen Decatur 1821 - 1906 | Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Carpenter, Stephen Decatur 1821 - 1906

Carpenter, Stephen Decatur 1821 - 1906 | Wisconsin Historical Society

(Note: birth date given in original as "ca. 1821.") newspaperman, politician, inventor, b. Chautauqua County, N.Y. After working on various newspaper ventures in the East and in Illinois, he moved to Wisconsin in 1850, settling in Madison. In 1851 he became co-publisher with H. A. Tenney (q.v.) of the Wisconsin Argus; Tenney withdrew in 1852, and the Argus was combined with Beriah Brown's (q.v.) Wisconsin Democrat to form the Wisconsin Argus and Democrat. In 1853 Carpenter withdrew from this paper, and from 1854 to 1864, with various partners, he published the Wisconsin Patriot. Although originally a strong Democrat, during the Civil War Carpenter supported the Union, but was critical of both the radical Republicans and President Lincoln. He was co-publisher of the Fond du Lac Journal (1871-1873), and was also briefly connected with the Oshkosh Times (1872). During the 1870's he championed the cause of railroad regulation and the Greenback movement, and was publisher of the Madison Daily Worker (1875) and co-publisher of the Daily Madison Patriot (1876). As an inventor, Carpenter was known for patenting two rotary pumps in the 1850's; these brought him financial success and the nickname "Pump." He also claimed the invention of a power press, a type-setting machine, and the self binder. In the 1870's he became involved in a series of lawsuits with the state in an attempt to collect his claims for services as state printer in 1858. The litigation was carried on for many years, and Carpenter was eventually forced to settle for a much smaller amount than his original claim. In 1903 he left the state and settled in Missouri. Madison Democrat, Oct. 21, 1906; Proc. Wis. Editorial Assoc., 1857-59 (1859: 59-67); A. M. Thomson, Political Hist. of Wis. (Milwaukee, 1900); D. C. McMurtrie, Early Printing in Wis. (Seattle, 1931); WPA MS.

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[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]