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Metcalfe, Richard

Richard L. Metcalfe, Nebraska newspaperman, politician, and businessman, was a close associate of William Jennings Bryan and worked with Bryan on both the Omaha World-Herald and The Commoner. Metcalfe came to Omaha in 1887 and worked as a reporter for the Omaha Bee until he landed a job with the World-Herald. During the Spanish-American War he led a newspaper campaign to send food to Nebraska soldiers. He also helped arrange for the return of Nebraska troops from San Francisco, where they had been discharged after the war.

Metcalfe was closely associated with Bryan in his three unsuccessful campaigns for the presidency (1896, 1900, and 1908) and on the World-Herald, where Bryan served as editor-in-chief from 1894 to 1896. Metcalfe served as associate editor and did much of the editorial writing attributed to Bryan until Bryan left the paper. Metcalfe then resumed his old job as editor, serving until 1905 when he became associate editor of The Commoner, established by Bryan in Lincoln.

In 1910 Metcalfe sought the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, but was defeated by his ex-boss, Gilbert Hitchcock, World-Herald publisher. Metcalfe ran unsuccessfully for the Nebraska governorship and again for the U.S. Senate in 1928. He was appointed mayor of Omaha in 1929 after the death of James C. Dahlman and elected to a three-year term the next year. Just before World War II he became advertising manager for Brandeis Department Store, then resigned and formed a realty and building company with his sons. He died in 1954.

Metcalfe is remembered today chiefly as a well-known associate of William Jennings Bryan, who depended on his considerable editorial and political abilities.

(January 1998)

 

 

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