George A. Chapman · 1966

George A. Chapman and his brother Jacob Chapman came to Indiana in 1838 from their home in Massachusetts and together they established the Wabash Enquirer, a Democratic paper, in Terre Haute. Under the fiery pen of his brother, who edited the paper, the Enquirer became a major force in Democratic politics.

However, with the overwhelming victory of General Harrison and the support of Indiana given to the Whig party, the Enquirer began to falter, and in the spring of 1841 it left the field to its more successful rivals.

George Chapman and his brother moved to Indianapolis, buying a semi-weekly Democratic organ, The Democrat, and changing the name to the Sentinel. Under the Chapman brother’s ownership it became more of a newspaper but retained its political position, and on July 21, 1841 adopted the “Crow, Chapman, Crow” line and the game-cock cut which was to become the Democratic symbol. The line, in fact, had little to do with the Chapman brothers, and arose in 1840 when a Joseph Chapman was the Democratic candidate for the State in Hancock County; things were looking discouraging for the Van Buren party and George Patterson wrote a letter to a political friend using the phrase “tell Chapman to crow.” The letter fell into the hands of a Whig opponent who made it public. The Whig press took it up all over the state as evidence of approaching Democrat defeat. The Chapmans twisted the phrase on every occasion in an attempt to flay the Whigs and beat them at their own game. The words were placed at the head of The Sentinel, made a hit, and established the rooster as the emblem of the Democrats.

George A. Chapman was active in Indianapolis civic affairs and was a city officer of Indianapolis and president of Common Council in 1848-1849.
The Sentinel was sold to William J. Brown in June 1850 and George A. Chapman died soon after.


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