John Swinton

John Swinton

John Swinton was born in Saltoun, Scotland, on 12th December, 1830. His family emigrated to Canada in 1843. Later they moved to Illinois. After leaving school he worked as a printer before finding employment on a steamboat on the Mississippi.

Swinton developed an abhorrence for slavery while living in Charleston, South Carolina. He moved to New York City in 1857 where he began the studying medicine. Swinton also worked as a freelance journalist and in 1860 he was appointed as head of the editorial staff of the New York Times by Henry J. Raymond. Swinton held liberal views and was a strong supporter of Abraham Lincoln and wrote extensively about the American Civil War. Swinton left the newspaper in 1870.

Swinton took a keen interest in the growing trade union movement and according to one source, over the next few years he "was busy as an orator and writer, championing the cause of the poor and oppressed". In 1874 he was selected by the Industrial Political Party to be the candidate for Mayor of New York City. Swinton received very few votes but he later claimed that it was part of a propaganda campaign rather than a serious attempt to win power.

In 1875 Swinton found work with the New York Sun. He continued to campaign for the rights of organized labour and in 1877 gave his support to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Fireman in their fight for better pay and conditions.

In 1880 Swinton was invited to speak at a meeting of journalists in New York City about the freedom of the press. He outraged his colleagues by arguing: "There is no such thing, at this stage of the world’s history in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dare write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my papers, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."

In 1883 Swinton established his own newspaper, John Swinton's Paper. However, sales were poor and according to the New York Times: "This he conducted for four years hard struggle. It has given him an opportunity to spread his ideas on social and industrial questions. He had been on the side of the masses, but his paper died for want of support by them."

During the municipal campaign of 1887 he was the candidate of the Progressive Labor Party for Senator from the Seventh District. Although he was defeated he "polled a very heavy vote."

Swinton was a great supporter of Eugene Debs. In 1894 Swinton argued that as an orator, Debs was comparable to Abraham Lincoln: "It seemed to me that both men were imbued with the same spirit. Both seemed to me as men of judgment, reason, earnestness and power. Both seemed to me as men of free, high, genuine and generous manhood. I took to Lincoln in my early life, as I took to Debs a third of a century later."

In 1883 Swinton established his own newspaper, John Swinton's Paper. However, sales were poor and according to the New York Times: "This he conducted for four years hard struggle. He had been on the side of the masses, but his paper died for want of support by them."

Swinton was the author of several pamphlets including New Issue: the Chinese American Question (1870), Eulogy on Henry J. Raymond (1870), John Swinton's Travels (1880) and an Oration on John Brown (1881).

John Swinton died on 15th December, 1901. In his obituary, the New York Times claimed: "He was never afraid to speak what he believed boldly and unreservedly... It was his boast that he never, no matter what the ideas of his employers were, wrote a line contrary to his honest convictions as uttered on the stump... As a man of original ideas and of freedom from the trammels of conventionality, Swinton had many admirers, even among those whose convictions were wholly opposed to his own."

There is no such thing, at this stage of the world’s history in America, as an independent press. We are intellectual prostitutes.

He was never afraid to speak what he believed boldly and unreservedly... As a man of original ideas and of freedom from the trammels of conventionality, Swinton had many admirers, even among those whose convictions were wholly opposed to his own.


Contents list

Expand/collapse John Swinton Papers, 1863-1865.

Original finding aid #03193-z, Series: "John Swinton Papers, 1863-1865." Folder 1

Papers, 1863-1865 #03193-z, Series: "John Swinton Papers, 1863-1865." Folder 1

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Encoded by: Noah Huffman, December 2007

Updated by: Kate Stratton and Jodi Berkowitz, July 2010

This collection was rehoused and a summary created with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This finding aid was created with support from NC ECHO.

Diacritics and other special characters have been omitted from this finding aid to facilitate keyword searching in web browsers.


About John Swinton and this famous statement:

As explained below it turns out John Swinton really existed, he was “managing editor” of the New York Times during the 19th century, the 1850s, and he likely made the above statement during the 1880s.

John Swinton – Yes, He Said It, But…

“I got email from Jay Salter, one of my readers, who had come across the John Swinton vignette… He forwarded it to a journalist’s discussion area, asking for feedback.

One journalist there, Jeff McMahon, made this response to Jay:

“Yeah, I’ll take that bait. The last time I saw that phony quote Swinton was identified as the “chief of staff” of the New York SUN, the date was 1853, and where it now says “I am paid weekly,” it then said “I am paid $150 a week.” Which is, actually, about how much I made in journalism. Then some liar realized that newspapers don’t have chiefs of staff, at least the editorial departments don’t, and if you’re going to lie you might as well do it big, so they made him the EDITOR IN CHIEF of the New York TIMES in NINETEEN 53. Unfortunately, the editor of the New York Times in 1953 was Turner Catledge.

So, the quote itself betrays a need for journalists because otherwise people who spread such propaganda might go unchecked.


Former Sun CEO, John Swinton: “There Is No Such Thing, At This Date of the World’s History, As An Independent Press You Know It and I know It”

We must understand the mechanics of news operations in order to avoid falling prey to the propaganda being fed us as news. File photo: Pixabay.

BOCA RATON – CNN International (CNNI) rules the world of news casting. CNNI is an international pay television channel that is operated by CNN and carries news-related programming worldwide. They decide what stories to headline, they format and compose the headlines, they determine just where and when we view them and they choose who evaluates the importance and significance of such events. Dangerous, as Richard Salant, the former President of CBS News put it so well:

“Our job is to give people not what they want, but what we decide they ought to have.”

The people behind the cameras, their directors and reporters are the chefs and waiters while we are the “in seat” consumers. This situation is not an easy one to change but we must understand the mechanics of the operation in order to avoid falling prey to the propaganda being fed us as news.

Ad Disclosure: This site earns revenue from ads, some within content. You can support independent journalism and help us stay afloat by donating or purchasing our merch following us on social media (Facebook | Twitter | Youtube | Instagram | LinkedIn | Pinterest | Flipboard | Feedspot) or just sharing content you like.

Whether you’re on a cruise in the middle of the Pacific or on a safari in the heart of Africa, your CNN news channel is with you. News is flashed to you on your TV, computer or laptop screens. You just cannot avoid being inundated by news that CNN decides is what you will watch. Recently, reporting on live video from Gaza, CNN reporter Ian Lee, wearing combat vest, dusty helmet, tearfully described the killing of 40 Palestinian civilian protesters by what he described as Israeli artillery, aircraft and small arms fire.

This was his description without evidence other than what he was told by the Palestinian authorities with whom he was embedded. One wonders just what his fate would be if he described in detail the true goals of these protesters if they were permitted to swarm into Israel. What questions, (never asked) could he pose to Gaza’s Hamas leaders about their plans for the destruction of Israel. We never hear from any of CNN’s Gaza based reporters about the horrors of the Islamic regime which permits them to “report” with strict censorship, from their despotic territory. How different is the attitude of their crews when issuing”news” accounts from within the democracy of Israel without fear of being beheaded? There they speak freely without any fear of retribution from the authorities. They are safe to spout their own views and even to distort the news. Walter Cronkite, the former anchorman for The CBS Evening News told the scary truth about what we get to see and hear from the media.

“We must decide which news items out of hundreds available we are going to expose that day. And those [news stories] available to us already have been culled and re-culled by persons far outside our control.”

Read between the lines and you get it…. the news we get is screened by those who have their own biases. We must become more sophisticated and aware of the powers of the vast media networks that now seem to be leaning far to the extreme Left. What is the future of the First Amendment covering free speech? Is there still such a thing as a Free Press?

Asked to give a toast before the prestigious New York Press Club in 1880, John Swinton, the former Chief of Staff at the New York Sun, made this candid confession:

“There is no such thing, at this date of the world’s history, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job.

If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth to lie outright to pervert to vilify to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell the country for his daily bread. You know it and I know it and what folly is this toasting an independent press. We are the tools and vassals of the rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes. “


4. From social distancing to loving trust: Investing in long-term relationships

Finally, it might be worth thinking about the “social distancing” that we have been asked to do. We really don’t know the long-term psychological and social consequences of social distancing. What will happen if we continue to implicitly or explicitly assume that everyone, including our family and friends, are potential threats to our wellbeing? Social distancing is clearly necessary to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. But how easy will it be for us to stop doing it? Social distancing could be used as another name for stigma—something that many of us are all too familiar with.

Think about it this way: There is a difference between social distancing and physical distancing. Physical distancing is a medical term which is intended to stop us being infected by the virus. But social distancing is a relational term. We really don’t want to get into the habit of social distancing even if physical distancing might be necessary! The other day I spoke to an elderly woman—Amanda—about the situation regarding social isolation, social distancing, and the like (she was in her doorway, and I was walking past, doing my one hour of daily exercise). She just laughed and said, “I have been in isolation for the past ten years! People have become experts at distancing themselves from me. But now with the coming of the virus, suddenly everyone wants to help me. It’s odd, really.” I felt a bit bad as I was probably one of the social distancers she was commenting on. She lived but a few hundred yards away from my house, and it took a pandemic for me to notice her. It is worrying that people can be amongst us and can be so vulnerable to being lonely, isolated, friendless—to not being noticed. The real tragedy was that Amanda had gotten used to being lonely. She was genuinely surprised when people started to pay attention to her.

Loneliness is one of the most painful experiences for human beings to go through. God creates human beings and tells us very clearly that we are made for community, that our natural state is to be in relationship: to belong. We belong to God, we belong to creation, we belong to one another. In order to feel that we belong, people need to affirm us, to notice us, and to offer the gifts of time and friendship. To belong is to be loved.

Amanda has had very little experience of receiving the fruits of the practices of belonging, but now when things are so radically changed, suddenly people want to find out about her. That is potentially a beautiful thing, but only if it continues. There must be nothing worse than finding company in the midst of a crisis, only for it to disappear again when things get back to “normal.” The revived sense of community that has emerged during this time of COVID might just be a gift that we should not lose as we move towards healthier times. Love your neighbour.


John Swinton - History

Sir John Swinton was a Scottish officer who found various employment on the Continent during the Thirty Years War. On 5 May 1630, the Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands wrote that Swinton was "trained to war in [the Netherlands]. and has commanded companies in Bohemia and Denmark" (CSPV, 1629-1632, p. 333). This is true: Swinton had served as a captain and then as a lieutenant-colonel under Christian of Brunswick sometime before 1623. Around 4 December of that year, Swinton made a request to the States-General of the Dutch Republic, perhaps for a commission in the Dutch army. Whatever the request, it was at first denied, as Swinton had been captured by the enemy while serving as a captain under Christian (RSG, 1623-June 1624, p. 374). Nonetheless, by 19 February 1625, Swinton was commissioned as a sergeant-major in the regiment of the Earl of Essex in the Anglo-Dutch Brigade (HSL, Vol. III, p. 182).

In March 1627, Swinton entered Danish service as a colonel under Sir Charles Morgan [SSNE 89] and alongside Colonels Sir James Livingston [SSNE 8050] and Sir John Borlase. Swinton was chosen in place of the Earl of Essex, as Essex did not want to serve under Morgan in Germany, and Essex's lieutenant-colonel, Sir Charles Rich, was on a different assignment (HSL, Vol. IV, pp. 15-16). Each of the four officers who joined Denmark from the Dutch Republic commanded regiments of 12 companies with 1,240 men, totaling around 4-5,000 men. However, by the time that they arrived in Denmark, nearly half the men had deserted and they were left only with a strength of around 2,500 men (Akkerman, Vol. I, pp. 629, 707 Beller, p. 540 NA, SP 84/133 f. 98, Apr. 2, 1627). The expedition ended with the fall of Stade in April 1628, and by the end of May, Swinton was one of "1,820 men temporarily garrisoned in Zwolle, awaiting further instructions," (Akkerman, Vol. I, p. 707). Swinton may have intended to reinforce Christian IV at Glückstadt, but by 1630 he was back in the Dutch Republic.

Between 1628-1631, Venice was involved in the War of Mantuan Succession on the anti-Habsburg side. In early 1630, the Venetians were negotiating in the Dutch Republic for a levy to be raised and led by Colonel Sir George Hay [SSNE 5056], but by 5 May these negotiations had broken down. Swinton was contracted to levy a regiment for the Republic of Venice on recommendation by the Prince of Orange and Colonel Hauterive (CSPV, 1629-1632, p. 333). Swinton promised "to take 2,090 good veteran infantry to serve Venice, all to be taken from Holland," and to embark at once. Swinton was allowed to leave Dutch service by the States-General (if he was even still employed at this time), but they refused the enlistment of any soldiers actually in their service, and so Swinton went to London to levy (CSPV, 1629-1632, p. 365). On 24 July, 1,029 soldiers embarked on the first fleet for Venice, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel John Douglas (CSPV, p. 380). Over the next few weeks, Swinton prepared the second fleet and continued to fill up his companies. It would not be until mid-October that the second fleet would actually embark, carrying around 528 troops under the command of Swinton and Colonel Vanharten (CSPV, pp. 423, 427-428). Of the two ships that embarked, the Stella and the Cicogna, Colonel Swinton chose to sail on the Stella: "one of the finest and most powerful ships in all Holland, well supplied with all necessaries." 291 men joined Swinton the Stella, 145 of which were his own men, many of whom were his officers and "persons of the best quality and far better. than those sent in the first fleets," (CSPV, p. 428).

However, Swinton and the second fleet would never make it to Venice. It was reported by the Venetian Ambassador that upon leaving the Texel on the eighth of October, the Stella was driven onto Goodwin Sands by a vicious storm and sank. All of the soldiers on board, including Swinton, were reported to have drowned (CSPV, p. 429-430). Two conflicting reports detail the fate of the second ship. The Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands reported that the Cicogna had managed to pick up some of the survivors from the Stella, before being sunk the following day, with only 33 survivors (CSPV, p. 429). The Venetian Ambassador in England, on the other hand, reported that the second ship had managed to reach Margate, but that upon reaching England, 250 of the remaining soldiers deserted (CSPV, p. 430). The first fleet had indeed made it to Venice as, by 5 March 1631, John Douglas had been appointed colonel of the levy upon Swinton's untimely death.

Akkerman, Nadine (ed.), The Correspondence of Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia (2 Vols, Oxford 2015), Vol. 1, pp. 630, 706-707.

Calendar of State Papers Venetian (CSPV), 1629-1632, pp. 333, 334, 342, 365, 366, 371, 380, 395, 396, 404, 406, 418, 423, 427, 428, 429, 430, 439, 455, 482.

Fallon, J.A., 'Scottish Mercenaries in the service of Denmark and Sweden 1626-1632' unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Glasgow, 1972.

Resolutiën der Staten-Generaal, 1623-June 1624, p. 374.

Ten Raa, F.J.G, and de Bas, F., Het Staatsche Leger, 1568-1795, III (Breda, 1915), p. 182 Vol. IV, pp. 15-16.

This entry expanded by Mr Jack Abernethy.

Service record

© 1995 - Steve Murdoch & Alexia Grosjean.
Published to the internet by the University of St Andrews, November 2004
ISSN 1749-7000


John Swinton - History

"WE ARE INTELLECTUAL PROSTITUTES"

One night, probably in 1880, John Swinton, then the preeminent New York journalist, was the guest of honour at a banquet given him by the leaders of his craft. Someone who knew neither the press nor Swinton offered a toast to the independent press. Swinton outraged his colleagues by replying:

There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone.

The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press?

We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."


John Swinton - History

In about 1880, as a preeminent New York journalist, Swinton was the guest of honour at a banquet given him by the leaders of his craft. Someone who knew neither the press nor Swinton offered a toast to the independent press. Swinton outraged his colleagues by replying thus:

There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print.

I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone.

The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press?

We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.

Research reveals that Swinton, after moving to New York, wrote an occasional article for the New York Times and was hired on a regular basis in 1860 as head of the editorial staff. Afterward holding this position throughout the Civil War, he left the paper in 1870 and became active in the labor struggles of the day. He later served eight years in the same position on the New York Sun and later published a weekly labor sheet, John Swinton's Paper . Link

Source: Labor's Untold Story, by Richard O. Boyer and Herbert M. Morais, published by United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America, NY, 1955/1979.

I recently quoted this to a journalist, and he was nodding as I quoted it, and said, "Yes, my friends know that if they don't write with a particular slant it will be sub-edited into that, so they just follow the line."


SWINTON, Sir John (bef. 1662-1723), of Swinton, Berwicks.

b. bef. 1662, 2nd s. of John Swinton, MP [S], of Swinton, by his 1st w. Margaret, da. of William Stewart, 2nd Lord Blantyre [S]. m. (1) 1674, Sarah (d. c.1690), da. of William Welch of London, 1da. (2) 17 Feb. 1698, Anne, da. of Sir Robert Sinclair, 1st Bt., of Longformacus, Berwicks., 4s. 3da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. bro. 1687 and to forfeited estates 1690 kntd. by Sept. 1696.1

Offices Held

MP [S], Berwickshire 1690–1707.

Dir. Co. of Scotland, 1695, Bank of Scotland 1695.2

Commr. Equivalent [S] 1707–19.3

Biography

The Swintons of that ilk were a notable Berwickshire family, with a record of representing the county dating back to the Scottish reformation parliament of 1560. The Member’s father defected from the Scottish to the Cromwellian army in 1650 and later became, in Burnet’s estimation, ‘the man of all Scotland most trusted and employed by Cromwell’, serving inter alia on the council of state for Scotland in 1655. He was nominated to Barebone’s Parliament and sat for the Merse (Berwickshire) under both Protectorates. He became a Quaker in 1657 and was tried for high treason at the Restoration. By his sincere repentance he obtained a mitigation of his sentence to one of forfeiture and imprisonment rather than execution. After his release he adopted a nomadic lifestyle until his death in 1679. His son, the future MP, did not embrace Quakerism, remaining a Presbyterian. Having lived in Holland since his father’s incarceration, he became a wealthy merchant. His family supported the Revolution, with his uncle Lord Mersington playing a prominent part. Swinton returned to Scotland and was appointed a commissioner of supply for Berwickshire in 1689. The following year he obtained the rescission of his father’s forfeiture, succeeding to the estates as eldest surviving son. In consequence of a recent Scottish act for increasing the representation of larger counties, he was returned for one of the new Berwickshire seats on 19 Aug. 1690.5

Initially, Swinton allied himself with the Scottish Court party, but his losses in the Darien scheme made him sympathetic to the Country party agenda: he was a founding director of the Africa Company, personally investing £2,000. He subscribed to the demand for a meeting of Parliament in 1700, but subsequently accepted the Court’s compromise of an address rather than an act on the Caledonian issue, remaining with the Court rump after the secession of 1702. At the ensuing election Swinton was returned for Berwickshire, where there was a strong Country platform. A combination of constituency pressure and personal disillusionment may account for his conversion to a more thoroughgoing opposition stance, for he had received no joy in his request for office as a customs commissioner in November 1702. From 1703 he entered heartily into Country measures. He remained in opposition during the shortlived New Party ministry, voting tactically (rather than from Jacobite motives) in favour of the Duke of Hamilton’s motion for deferring a decision on the succession in 1704. His reputation as a closet courtier prompted the Jacobite agent Scot to report in 1706 that he ‘sometimes trims, but for the most part is with the Country party’. He supported the Union and thereby signalled his returning allegiance to the Court. In the absence of any evidence that this change of heart preceded the Union debates, Swinton should be classified as an opposition cross-voter. His solitary deviation from the Court line was over Scottish representation. It was as a Court supporter that he was included in both the Scottish contingent to the first Parliament of Great Britain and the Equivalent commission.6

Swinton is not known to have spoken in Parliament, though he was active in Equivalent business, being appointed on 23 Feb. 1708 to the drafting committee for a bill to direct its payment. In response to the threatened Jacobite invasion, he was nominated to prepare a bill to deter disloyal clan chiefs (11 Mar.), and later signed a loyal address to the crown from Berwickshire. He did not stand for the county in 1708 (though George Baillie* was briefly alarmed that resentment might lead Swinton to support a competitor for the seat), nor did he stand at any subsequent election. Continuing to serve on the Equivalent commission until its dissolution, he also signalled his loyalty to the new Hanoverian regime by participating in coronation celebrations at Kelso in October 1714. He died in 1723 and was succeeded by his eldest son, John.7


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