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Cap Times 100th anniversary celebration art

If you haven't seen the ads or the social media posts already, be sure to save Tuesday evening, Dec. 12, and come to The Capital Times' 100th anniversary celebration at, of course, Monona Terrace.

The actual anniversary is the next day, Dec. 13. That's when William T. Evjue and a small cadre of friends put together the first edition of The Capital Times and sent it out to the polarized streets of Madison.

The U.S. was embroiled in war after a bitter political fight between those who saw it as the nation's duty to back the British and French against German aggressors and those who saw the war as nothing more than a boondoggle for U.S. munitions manufacturers eager to capitalize on the miseries of the young men and women who had to fight it.

It was a terrible time, not all that unlike today. Any American of German descent was viewed with suspicion. They were harassed and vilified. In nearby Evansville, the anti-German furor was so intense that townspeople rounded up an elderly couple, threw them in a circus wagon for lions and paraded them around town to the hoots and hollers from those who stood and watched from the curb.

Wisconsin's own U.S. Sen. Robert M. La Follette had been among the most vocal in opposing the war, labeling it a war between despots that the U.S. had no business fighting. Evjue had been a La Follette supporter, quitting his job at the Wisconsin State Journal to protest the paper's vilification of the senator. So for some it was natural, especially among the business community, to believe Evjue's paper was a pro-German and unpatriotic organ.

But, despite an advertising boycott and a fierce whispering campaign, Evjue's newspaper survived and is still here some 100 years later.

There are, of course, hundreds of stories to tell of those 100 years (I've been around for 55 of them), and John Nichols and I try to tell some of them in a book we wrote that will be unveiled at the Dec. 12 event.

And that's what we and our current editor, Paul Fanlund, will talk about in a program that will be moderated by public radio's Joy Cardin. There will be a cash bar and some light food available, but it will be mostly about this incredible journey that Mr. Evjue started us all on a century ago.

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We picked Monona Terrace for the event because Frank Lloyd Wright's dream was also Mr. Evjue's. He fought to have it built and, unfortunately, had passed away by the time it finally was built nearly 30 years after his death — with the newspaper he founded having led the way.

It promises to be a fun evening, open free to the public, with the events starting at 6 p.m. Hope we will see you there.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. and on Twitter @DaveZweifel

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Dave is editor emeritus of The Capital Times.