After the war, abolitionists began to gather their scattered forces and wanted a Liberty Party organ. To meet this want, Charles P. Shiras started the Albatross in the fall of ’47. He was the “Iron City Poet,” author of “Dimes and Dollars” and “Owe no Man a Dollar.” He was of an old and influential family, had considerable private fortune, was courted and flattered, but laid himself and gifts on the altar of Liberty. His paper was devoted to the cause of the slave and of the free laborer, and started with bright prospects. He and Mr. Fleeson urged me to become a regular contributor, but Mr. Riddle objected, and the Journal had five hundred readers for every one the Albatross could hope. In the one I reached the ninety and nine unconverted, while in the other I must talk principally to those who were rooted and grounded in the faith. So I continued my connection with the Journal until I met James McMasters, a prominent abolitionist, who said sorrowfully: “Well, the last number of the Albatross will be issued on Thursday.”
“Is it possible?”
“Possible and true! That is the end of its first quarter, and Shiras gives it up. In fact we all do. No use trying to support an abolition paper here.”
While he spoke a thought struck me like a lightning flash, and he had but finished speaking, when I replied:
“I have a great notion to start a paper myself.”
He was surprised, but caught at the idea, and said:
“I wish you would. You can make it go if anybody can, and we’ll do all we can to help you.”
I did not wait to reply, but hurried after my husband, who had passed on, soon overtook and told him the fate of the Albatross. For this he was sorry, for he always voted a straight abolition ticket. I repeated to him what I had said to Mr. McMasters, when he said:
“Nonsense!” then reflected a little, and added, “Well, I do not know after all but it would be a good idea. Riddle makes lots of money out of your letters.”
When we had talked about five minutes, he turned to attend to business and I went to the Journal office. I found Mr. Riddle in his sanctum, and told him the Albatross was dead; the Liberty Party without an organ, and that I was going to start the Pittsburg Saturday Visitor; the first copy must be issued Saturday week, so that abolitionists would not have time to be discouraged, and that I wanted him to print my paper.
He had pushed his chair back from his desk, and sat regarding me in utter amazement while I stated the case, then said:
“What do you mean? Are you insane? What does your husband say?”
I said my husband approved, the matter was all arranged, I would use my own estate, and if I lost it, it was nobody’s affair.
He begged me to take time to think, to send my husband to him, to consult my friends. Told me my project was ruinous, that I would lose every dollar I put into it, and begged, entreated me to take time; but all to no purpose, when a bright idea came to him.