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Newspaper Washingtoner Intelligenzblatt (Washington, D.C.) 1859-1863

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About Washingtoner Intelligenzblatt (Washington, D.C.) 1859-1863

In 1859, a 25-year-old German immigrant, Werner Koch (1834-1911) founded the weekly Washingtoner Intelligenzblatt. Koch was born in the town of Alsfeld in Hesse, Germany. He apprenticed at the Ehrenclau publishing company where he learned newspaper printing, editing, composing, and distribution. In 1853, he visited Washington, DC for the first time where he found temporary work as a printer for Der National Demokrat. Despite a growing number of German American immigrants in the Washington region, many German American newspapers were short-lived. Koch eventually lost his job when Der National Demokrat folded and found temporary work in the maritime industry. By 1856, Koch saved enough money to return to Washington and open a cigar shop, but his passion was in newspapers. In 1857, Koch became a printer for Das Auge. A year later, he acquired his own print shop on the corner of 7th Street and Louisiana Avenue where he would begin publication of the Washingtoner Intelligenzblatt.

On the second page of the April 2, 1859 newspaper issue of the Washingtoner Intelligenzblatt, under the headline “Unser Standpunkt” (“Our Viewpoint”), Koch described the newspaper’s policy as independent and impartial in its coverage of politics and social events, but centered on the promotion of Germans in Washington. In addition, the newspaper opposed any attempt to undermine the United States.

In October 1860, Koch combined Washingtoner Intelligenzblatt with Die Metropole, a weekly newspaper founded by R. Schellhaas, to create Tägliche Metropole. This partnership firm, “W. Koch & Co.,” fulfilled Koch’s dream of having a German daily newspaper in Washington. The newspaper informed readers on crucial events leading up to the American Civil War. On January 11, 1861, the Metropole reverted to a weekly publication. Furthermore, the outbreak of the American Civil War led Koch to volunteer for the Union Army, which suspended production of the Metropole on June 10, 1861.

In the winter of 1862, Werner Koch contracted a disease and was discharged from the Union Army. Inspired by the experience of seeing the Union army comprised of German immigrants, Koch renamed the Metropole to the Militärgazette; however, the newspaper was not a financial success and his personal financial situation worsened.

In 1863, Max Cohnheim, author and former editor of the New York Humorist, arrived in Washington for a job at the Department of the Treasury. He was also looking for a printer to publish editorials. Koch partnered with Cohnheim, remaining as printer while giving Cohnheim free reign as the new editor. Cohnheim renamed the weekly newspaper Columbia. Unlike its predecessor, the Columbia avoided direct discussion of politics. Instead, the newspaper was filled with humor, satire, serialized fiction, editorial columns, and human-interest pieces. Under a new name and editorship, the Columbia saw success with rising subscriptions and reprints of its humorous pieces in other German newspapers throughout America.

While discussion of politics was rare for the newspaper, the Columbia would sometimes incorporate small graphics to comment on major developments in the Civil War. In June 1864, Cohnheim publicly endorsed Presidential Candidate Abraham Lincoln for President and Andrew Johnson for Vice President through images of a bald eagle carrying an American flag with text below endorsing the candidates. For the weeks after Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865, Cohnheim removed all humorous materials from page three of the Columbia and replaced them with articles about Abraham Lincoln. Furthermore, the newspaper’s primary text blocks were surrounded by black mourning bars representing sorrow and grief due to Lincoln’s assassination.

Soon after the Civil War ended, many German Americans began leaving Washington to join the westward migration. In the January 12, 1867 issue of the Columbia, Cohnheim submitted his resignation and left for San Francisco. Koch reclaimed ownership of the newspaper, and in the January 19, 1867 issue, the Columbia masthead indicated Koch’s return as publisher and editor. Furthermore, Koch also returned to the newspaper’s original policies. Fortunately, the establishment of the territorial government in Washington on February 21, 1871 brought a rising interest in local politics. On March 31, 1873, Koch bought the Täglicher Washingtoner Anzeiger and merged it with the Columbia to become the Washingtoner Journal.

Provided By: Library of Congress, Washington, DC

About this Newspaper


  • Washingtoner Intelligenzblatt (Washington, D.C.) 1859-1863

Dates of Publication

  • 1859-1863

Created / Published

  • Washington, D.C. : W. Koch, 1859-


  • -  Germans--Washington (D.C.)--Newspapers
  • -  German Americans--Newspapers
  • -  German American newspapers
  • -  Washington (D.C.)--Newspapers
  • -  German Americans
  • -  Germans
  • -  Washington (D.C.)
  • -  United States--District of Columbia--Washington


  • Newspapers


  • -  Weekly
  • -  Jahrg. 1, Nr. 1 (Apr. 2, 1859)-
  • -  Ceased in 1863.
  • -  Also issued on microfilm from the Library of Congress, Photoduplication Service.
  • -  In German.
  • -  Columbia (Washington, D.C.) (DLC)sn 82014761 (OCoLC)8791632


  • volumes : illustrations (chiefly advertisements) ; 49 cm

Call Number/Physical Location

  • Newspaper

Library of Congress Control Number

  • sn82015822

OCLC Number

  • 8811037

ISSN Number

  • 2997-3996

Succeeding Titles

Additional Metadata Formats


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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Washingtoner Intelligenzblatt Washington, D.C. 1859 to 1863. (Washington, DC), Jan. 1 1859.

APA citation style:

(1859, January 1) Washingtoner Intelligenzblatt Washington, D.C. 1859 to 1863. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Washingtoner Intelligenzblatt Washington, D.C. 1859 to 1863. (Washington, DC) 1 Jan. 1859. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,