In the mid 1880s both the Knights of Labor and rival newspapers believed Jay Gould had taken control of the Associated Press and the New York Sun.
I. Bromley, "The Newspapers and the Company," Aug. 10, 1886, U.P., MS 3761 SG2 S1, Box 32, f. Bromley-Burness. CPH to Hopkins, May 12, 1876, 9: 19, box 24, Hopkins Correspondence.
CPH to Colton, Dec. 8, 1876, Octopus Speaks, 325.
Or, as John Murrin has put it, as an "extremely sensitive barometer for measuring the hopes, aspirations, and anxieties expressed in American public life."
As a set of rhetorical and cultural conventions, this species of friendship was hardly new. It resembled earlier commercial relationships between Virginia planters and British merchants in the eighteenth century, and political relationships in New York before and after the Civil War.
T. H. Breen, Tobacco Culture: The Mentality of Great Tidewater Planters on the Eve of the Revolution (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1985), 84-123.
Mitchell was normally corrupt and Oregon senate seats were for sale. In 1882, unable to bribe enough legislators to obtain election, Mitchell sold his votes to his law partner, Joseph N. Dolph, for $35,000. In 1886 after failing election in a regular session, the governor called a special election that sent him back to Washington.
Mitchell to Villard, April 21, 1881, J.H. Mitchell Letters, Box 82, Villard Papers.