Joseph R. Hawley was one of the founders of the Republican Party in Connecticut and the editor of the Hartford Evening News in 1857. When the Civil War opened in 1861and President Abraham Lincoln called for volunteers, Hawley was reportedly the first to volunteer. He started the war as a captain, saw action, and at the war's end was brevetted a Major General. After leaving the army in 1866 he was elected Governor of Connecticut. While he was Governor he bought the Hartford Courant, which was consolidated with his Evening News, and he was publisher, and sometime editorial writer, of the Courant until his death in 1905. In 1868 he was a delegate and Chairman of the Republican National Convention which nominated Ulysses S. Grant as President. He was a Congressman from Connecticut off and on between 1872 and 1881. During that period, from 1873-76 he was on the United States Centennial Commission and served as its Chairman in the event which culminated in the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876. From 1881 through 1905 he represented Connecticut in the United States Senate.