William Rule



Induction Year:1969




The Knoxville Whig; The Knoxville Chronicle; The Knoxville Journal


William Rule was born in Knox County May 10, 1839, and grew up reading Brownlow's fiery Knoxville Whig. When he was 21 he went to work for the Whig, but the paper was suspended a short time later, and Rule joined the Union Army.


The Whig was re-established in 1863, and Rule returned to it after the war. He became its editor in 1866 and held that position until 1870 when Brownlow left to take a seat in the United States Senate.

In 1870 Rule and Henry C. Tarwater established the Knoxville Chronicle as a weekly. It was the only Republican paper south of the Ohio River. They quickly expanded to a daily, and five years later when Brownlow returned from the Senate he bought half of the business. He was editor-in-chief until his death.


Rule sold his interest in the Chronicle in 1882 and was elected mayor of Knoxville the next year.

On February 26, 1885, Rule and Samuel Marfield published the first issue of the Knoxville Journal. Rule bought out Marfield in 1889. The Journal and the daily Knoxville Tribune merged in 1898, the same year Rule was elected to his second term as Knoxville's mayor. However, he continued to edit the daily and Sunday editions of the combined newspaper until his death in 1928.


In 1900 he compiled a "History of Knoxville" and wrote the chapter on the press. In addition, he was a trustee of the University of Tennessee and served on numerous other civic boards. He also was a member of the Republican National Committee from 1876 to 1884.


Rule's contribution to the newspaper profession was not limited to Knoxville, for he is remembered as the man who gave Adolph Ochs his first job on the Chronicle. Ochs often recalled that Rule had given him a letter of introduction to influential men in Chattanooga which helped clear the way for Ochs when he bought the Chattanooga Times.