The Hindu was founded in Madras on 20 September 1878 as a weekly by four law students (T. T. Rangachariar, P. V. Rangachariar, D. Kesava Rao Pantulu and N. Subba Rao Pantulu) led by G. Subramania Iyer, a school teacher from Tanjore district and M. Veeraraghavachariar, a lecturer at Pachaiyappa's College. The Hindu was started to support the campaign of Sir T. Muthuswamy Iyer for a judgeship at the Madras High Court and to counterbalance the propaganda against him carried out by the Anglo-Indian press. The Hindu was one of the many newspapers of the period established to protest against the discriminatory policies of the British government in India. About 80 copies of the inaugural issue were printed at Srinidhi Press, Georgetown on one rupee and twelves annas of borrowed money. Subramania Iyer became the first editor and Veeraraghavachariar, the first Managing Director of the newspaper.
The paper was initially liberal in its outlook and supported the continuation of British rule in India. The paper initially printed from Srinidhi Press but later moved on Scottish Press, then, The Hindu Press, Mylapore, and finally to the National Press on Mount Road. Started as a weekly newspaper, the paper became a tri-weekly in 1883 and an evening daily in 1889. A single copy of the newspaper was priced at four annas.
The offices moved to rented premises at 100 Mount Road on 3 December 1883. The newspaper started printing at its own press there, named "The National Press," which was established on borrowed capital as public subscriptions were not forthcoming. The building itself became The Hindu's in 1892, after the Maharaja of Vizianagaram, Pusapati Ananda Gajapati Raju, gave The National Press a loan both for the building and to carry out needed expansion.
Its editorial stances have earned The Hindu the nickname, the Maha Vishnu of Mount Road. "From the new address, 100 Mount Road, which to remain The Hindu's home till 1939, there issued a quarto-size paper with a front-page full of advertisements—a practice that came to an end only in 1958 when it followed the lead of its idol, the pre-Thomson Times—and three back pages also at the service of the advertiser. In between, there were more views than news." After 1887, when the annual session of Indian National Congress was held in Madras, the paper's coverage of national news increased significantly, and led to the paper becoming an evening daily starting 1 April 1889.
The partnership between Veeraraghavachariar and Subramania Aiyer was dissolved in October 1898. Aiyer quit the paper and Veeraraghavachariar became the sole owner and appointed C. Karunakara Menon as editor. However, The Hindu's adventurousness began to decline in the 1900s and so did its circulation, which was down to 800 copies when the sole proprietor decided to sell out. The purchaser was The Hindu's Legal Adviser from 1895, S. Kasturi Ranga Iyengar, a politically ambitious lawyer who had migrated from a Kumbakonam village to practise in Coimbatore and from thence to Madras. Kasturi Ranga Iyengar's ancestors had served the courts of Vijayanagar and Mahratta Tanjore. He traded law, in which his success was middling but his interest minimal, for journalism, pursuing his penchant for politics honed in Coimbatore and by his association with the `Egmore Group' led by C. Sankaran Nair and Dr T.M. Nair.
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