In my cluttered cubbyhole of an office, I have on the wall an artist’s drawing of The State’s first editor, N.G. Gonzales, who helped found the paper 120 years ago today.
The drawing shows Gonzales being shot in the back almost 13 years later, on Jan. 15, 1903, in broad daylight on Gervais Street across from the State House, by the Lugar-wielding assassin, then-Lt. Gov. Jim Tillman.
The bullet perforated his intestines. The medicine of the day could not save him. Gonzales died four days later at 44.
He is the only newspaper writer in the United States to be assassinated by a sitting politician. For years, lore held Gonzales was “the only writer worth shooting” in South Carolina.
The drawing reminds me that bearing witness to events, and writing about them in ways that depict reality, is a serious business.