C. M. DAY
A STANDPAT EDITOR
Standpattism is not necessarily standstillism it is simply loyalty to one's convictions, the
execution of an ideal, regardless of clamor, the adherence to a policy right or wrong.
Jesus Christ was a standpatter of the first magnitude, and he got enduring results instead of
temporary gain. Columbus was endowed with a similar nature. Washington revealed it, and Charlie Day, editor
of the Sioux Falls Daily Argus-Leader, has it.
Day is a man of mighty strong convictions, and he has :he courage to express them t matters
little to him whether our whole congressional delegation, multiplied farmers' conventions and what not are for
or against Canadian reciprocity, Day is for it, and with him "Day" goes. Having taken his stand for it, no set
of politicians can swerve him from his course. He'd pull down the Argus-Leader sign, send home the employees,
turn the key in the door and shut up shop, if necessary, but change frontnever!
C. M. DAY
Yet Day is not stubborn; he is simply unyielding in his conviction of duty. And it is this
very element in his nature, breathed into his editorial work, that has given the Daily Argus-Leader such
prominence, such wide circulation, and made it the leading daily of the Dakotas and one of the most influential
papers of the northwest.
Day is also a practical politician,so much so that he will support after the primaries
a republican ticket which he in whole or in part vigorously opposed before the nominations were made. In other
words, he is a standpat party man. Wendell Phillips declared, "He who forsakes principle for party, goes down,
and the armed batallions of God march over him." Phillips was a theoretical politician. Day, like President
McKinley, is just the reverse, a practical politician. McKinley said, "Young man, stand by your party
and your party will stand by you." This is Day's viewpoint. He remains "regular" and stands pat for his party
in the state and nation.
Day has a style of writing that is peculiarly his own. It is as simple as that of a school
boy, yet as penetrating as a javelin. His recognition as an editorial writer seems to come from his power of
simplification. In a general way he writes in short, terse sentences that fairly snap with life, and carry
conviction to his readers. It is, in other words, simple individuality imparted to his work. Day is a man
with a pronounced personality. This finds expression in his writings. His face is his trademark. His intense
expression reveals his standpattism. His standpattism and his clear-cut, eloquent prose, command respect, and
cause a larger percent of his subscribers to neglect the news and to read the editorial page of the Argus-Leader,
when their papers are received, than any other newspaper we have ever known.
His editorial page discloses daily the incontrovertible fact that Charlie is a prolific
writer. He expresses himself with equal elegance and grace on every conceivable subject that may interest the
public minds. He never uses a big word, if a small one will suffice. His treatises of political, of social
and of moral problems, reveal alike his wide range of knowledge and his simplified manner of digesting his
Again, in his newspaper "debates" with other editors of the state, Mr. Day is always pre eminently
fair, and he puts his criticisms of men and conditions in dignified language. His disposition to give the other
fellow a fair hearing, and his absence of personal replies to personal threats that are made at him by other
papers, have won for him a host of admiring friends. Instead of using that ugly little word, spelled with four
letters, that does so much to estrange men, he simply says "Editor So and So does the Argus-Leader an injustice,"
and thus puts his replies on a high plane.
For this reason the newspaper fraternity like him, and a few years since they elected him
president of the South Dakota Press Association.
Une thing that everybody likes about Editor Day is the bigness which he shows in giving up the
free use of his editorial, page to his enemies as readily as he does to his friends. Every few days, as is
customary with a live editor, some one has a grievance at him to air. Mr. Day invariably publishes these harsh
things about himself just as freely as he does the kind comments that come floating along. It takes a patriot
to do this.
But the reader must not infer that Mr. Day is passive in his nature, or that he is too well
balanced to err. Like the rest of us, sometimes he, too, acts on impusle rather than reason, and then something
drops. One end of his editorial pencil is thoroughly steeped in vitriolic acid; but fortunately for himself as
well as for the public he usually writes with the other end.
Not long since he deliberately accused Clate Tinan, editor of the Kimball Graphica newspaper
man;think of it! of dressing as well as Senator Gamble.
Once again he got his pencil turned around and specifically stated that a certain Sioux Falls
attorney who was a member of the South Dakota legislature, was not a statesman, whereupon the broken-hearted
state legislature passed a resolution denouncing Mr. Day for such unfriendly and unjustifiable criticism. Of
course this helped to advertise the Argus-Leader, and it brought Mr. Day a score or more of new subscribers.
On another occasion Charlie inadvertently sharpened the vitriolic end of his editorial pencil, and then when he
began to write he put on more pressure than he had intended, and he inflicted a Fitfy-Thousand-Dollar wound in
the right hyprochondrical cavity just under the diaphragm of a valiant Norskman at Huron, that caused the
fellow to believe he was suffering from internal peritonitis, appendicitis, atrophic cirrhosis of the liver,
and gall stonesall at once.
On this occasion Charlie would have been punished, if it had not been for a counter-irritant.
While the wound was being disinfected by the lamented Kittredge with paroxide of courtry-gen. (We must have medical terms to
fit the remedy.) changing venue occasionally as the distressful days passed by a coterie of long, pious faced
politicians, signed a written agreement with this same valiant Norskman that if he would secure the nomination
of several of their ringleaders to good fat offices, they would, immediately thereafter, join hands with
him in bringing about certain political reforms which the injured Norskman desired particularly the election of
postmasters and the dividing of other political patronage by a legally constituted committee, etc., etc., ad
The valient Norskman kept his part of the agreement. But when the primary election was over,
the signers of this sacred (?) political pact kicked over the traces, repudiated their part of the agreement,
and in so doing inflicted such a painful wound in the Norskman's left hypochondrical cavity, just below his
diaphragm, in such dangerously close proximity to the Norskman's big heart, that he forgot all about the wound
inflicted on the opposite side by Charlie Day, and so it gradually healed. But the other wound made by the
broken pledge produced a running sore which is still discharging.
ON THE PLATFORM
It seldom occurs that a polished writer is also a good public speaker. Day is an exceptiona
combination. He can say more in five words on the platform than some folks can sav in five minutes. Again, he
is one of the readiest off-hand speakers in the state. He can sit at his editorial desk all day doing his
regular work, and then in the evening drive out to some point in Minnehaha county and fairly hypnotize a
political gathering for several hours with his snappy argument. Mr. Day's services are also in demand among
the state schools. Recently he delivered an able address before the students of our state university, and on
Decoration Day of this year he was the orator at Geddes. June 15th, he delivered another patriotic address
before the Lake Madison Veteran's association, at Colton. Charlie's combined literary attainments will yet
bring him just recompense in the political realm.
Here is a sample of his pointed talks. Speaking at a banquet held in Sioux Falls in honor of
Senator Kittredge, during the eventful campaign of 1908, he said: "If Senator Kittredge isn't renominated at
the primaries next Tuesday, I, for one, will walk down the streets of Sioux Falls with my head bowed in shame."
Kittredge was defeated; Day hung his head, but it was with fervent sorrow. Three years elapsed.
Kittredge lay unconscious in a hotel at Hot Springs, Arkansas, awaiting the final summons to appear in Court.
Day stood by his side, holding his limp fevered hand. And the greatest consolation of that trying hour to Mr.
Day was the fact that neither he nor the Argus-Leader had ever forsaken the senator. Charlie's head was no longer
bowed in shame; but it remains bowed in grief. They were true friends.
Day's ready wit makes him an ideal toastmaster. He acted in this capacity during the Roosevelt
banquet, held in Sioux Falls. The Commercial Club of that city, the Elk's lodge, and other organizations are
continually pressing him into similar service.
One evening, while attending an Elk's banquet at the Cataract hotel in Sioux Falls, Mr. Day was
called upon to respond to the toast, "The Ladies." so we were told by one who was present. It was just about
midnight when he arose to speak. He followed his subject for a few minutes, and then looking at the hands of the
clock, said that the day observed as "Mothers' Day" was just approaching. Concluding his remarks, the speaker
said: "If mother be living and with you, pay her some slight mark of respect which her old eyes will not be too
dim to see and appreciate. If she be living and absent, write her a good cordial letter and let her know that
you thought of her on 'Mothers' Day.' If she has goneif her weary feet have climbed the 'silver
stairway of the stars,' let us give to her sacred memory the deep devotion of a thoughtful hour; and let us
here resolve, as man to man and Elk to Elk, to try to be as clean and brave and manly as Mother would have us
It was told us by our informant that when Mr. Day sat down, there was hardly a dry eye in the
room. Then came an outburst of applause which made the banquet hall ring again and again. And a large number
of those present, before they went home that very night, wired orders for flowers to be sent to their absent
mothers the next morning; and several of them have never since allowed the day to pass unobserved.
Charlie Day was born to win. In his veins courses blood of the Sons of Erin, the followers
of Bruce and the descendants of good old Yankeedom. Dame Nature permitted him to draw his first breath at
Sidney, Iowa, November 4, 1853. (He will draw his last one in South Dakota). Day's mother was a very charming
lady possessed of great literary talent, and she was also noted for her wit and humor. His father was Judge
James D. Day, of the Iowa supreme court. Thus Charlie came into the world under the most favorable
circumstancescame in, as previously stated, to win.
At the age of twenty-three young Day struck westward. He landed in Sioux Falls, South Dakota,
twenty-five years ago, July 9, 1886, penniless. Discouraged? Never! He took a job the next morning on the
Daily Argus, as news editor. He started in at $5 per week. Thus the first dollar he ever earned in our fair
young state was with his pen. We predict the last one will be earned with his tongue.
But, as has been said a thousand times, you can't keep a good man down. The manner in which
Charlie wrote up pink teas and other townfolk affairs, at once won him recognition. Young Day had ideas; he
expressed them. His columns revealed originality. Almost before he knew it he was doing editorial work on
the paper, as a side line.
Day knew the value of saving. Every spare dollar, and some that he couldn't spare, were
slipped into his worshipped savings bank. Two years after becoming identified with the Daily Argus, he had
saved up enough money to get married, and in one year more (1889), to acquire an interest in the paper. The
next year, 1890, he and his partner, Tomlinson, bought the Weekly Leader, and merged it with the Daily Argus,
thus giving birth to the Daily Argus-Leader. Later, Day bought Tomlinson's interest. Five years ago the
ownership was converted into a corporation with Charles M. Day as editor-in-chief and the leading stockholder
in the company. He has done nearly all of the editorial work for fifteen years. When Day took charge of the
Argus-Leader, its total circulation throughout the country at large was only one third of what it is today in
the city of Sioux Falls alone; and its total circulation today is twelve times what it was when he assumed
control. This shows thrift. It shows that Day's fearlessness in expressing himself editorially meets public
approval, otherwise the public would not accord him this patronage.
Charlie Day is one of the most sociable creatures ever created. He makes friends wherever he
goes, or with whomsoever comes. This admirable trait in his nature finds expression in many ways. For instance,
unlike other editors of large daily papers who betake themselves into a closed roomone not infrequently
lockedto do their editorial work, and leave with everybody around the shop explicit instructions that
they are not to be interrupted except in cases of the most extreme necessity, Day does his editorial work in
the open, right out in a room among his employees, where the public also has easy access to him; does it amid
all kinds of interruptions, and never complains. Why? Well, because he's a social creature, and he enjoys
the sociability of his fellowmen; besides, he likes to keep in touch with everybody.
When Day succeeded to the editorship, the Kimball Graphic said, "Charlie Day is a man that the
newspaper boys of the state will snuggle up to," and the prediction has come true.
Two years after young Day landed in Sioux Falls, Don Cupid broke open his little savings bank,
took out enough money to get Charlie a wedding license, a wedding suit and some furniture, and the young reporter
on the Daily Argus set up housekeeping at once with Miss Annie Louise Davenport. Mrs. Day is a strikingly
handsome lady with a Grecian cast of features. She is winsome in her mannerisms, stately and dignified in her
appearance; yet withal common and companionable. Charlie has more than once been envied by less-contented
members of his own sex. Mr. and Mrs. Day are now closing the latter half of middle life. Like other people who
have reached this age, they have already begun to live over again their own lives in the lives of their offspring,
and to find their chiefest comfort in their childrena son, Herbert James, aged 21, and a daughter, Miss
Dorothy, aged 18. Herbert graduated this year from the University of Missouri, and he is now taking his medical
course. Miss Dorothy also graduated in June from the Sioux Falls high school, being valedictorian of her class
which consisted of fifty-nine members. No small distinction!
Thus ends our review of the life of an Iowa lad who at maturity crossed the Big Sioux into
Dakota; and who, through frugality, honesty, hard work and sticktoitiveness carved for himself a niche in the
hall of our state's proud fame where he will be revered for many years to come as the "biggest" editor in South
Here's a hand, Brother Day, of recognition and congratulation. Keep plodding! the hill-top is
not yet reached. Destiny lies before you.