Harrison Gray Otis

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This article is about the publisher and soldier. For the United States Representative and Senator from Massachusetts, see: Harrison Gray Otis (lawyer).

Home of Harrison Gray Otis in Los Angeles
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Home of Harrison Gray Otis in Los Angeles

Harrison Gray Otis (1837July 30, 1917) was the second publisher of the Los Angeles Times.

Born in Ohio, he was part of the Republican National Convention that nominated Abraham Lincoln for president. He volunteered for the Union army during the American Civil War and fought in William McKinley's regiment. After the war he worked as a publisher before moving to California.

He worked for smaller newspapers before becoming affiliated with the Times. He wrote editorials and local news before buying a half interest in the paper. He then named himself president and editor-in-chief.

When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, Otis asked his former commander William McKinley, now the commander-in-chief, for an appointment as Assistant Secretary of War. Secretary of War Russell A. Alger did not want the conservative Otis serving under him however. Instead, Otis volunteered for the army once again and was appointed brigadier general of volunteers. He served in the Philippines. He didn't see any action against the Spanish but commanded the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, VIII Corps during the Philippine Insurrection.

After the war he returned to his position at the Times. His support for Los Angeles, California was instrumental in the growth of the city. He was a member of the San Fernando Syndicate, a group of investors who bought land in the San Fernando Valley based on inside knowledge that the Los Angeles aqueduct would soon irrigate it. Otis used the Times to frighten citizens (with news stories of a false drought) to vote for a 1905 bond issue that funded the aqueduct.

His home was one of three buildings that were targeted in the 1910 Los Angeles Times bombing.

Otis was known for his right wing political views, which were reflected in the paper.

He was succeeded as publisher of the Los Angeles Times by the husband, Harry Chandler of his daughter, Marian Otis Chandler.


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