During the summer of 1863, Watson, who had worked for the newspaper Overland Press in Olympia, decided to establish his own paper. On August 15, 1863, to test how receptive Seattle would be to a newspaper, he issued the Washington Gazette, which was printed in Olympia with a Seattle imprint. Apparently the response was good because after conducting his experiment, he moved to Seattle and set up shop.
The Ramage, the printing press that Watson used, had an illustrious career. The press printed the first newspapers in San Francisco, Portland, and Olympia. When The Seattle Gazette appeared, the only other newspapers in Washington Territory were Overland Press (Olympia), Washington Standard (Olympia), Puget Sound Herald (Steilacoom), and the Washington Statesman (Walla Walla).
The Gazette announced its debut in an article titled "To All Whom It May Concern":
"After considerable vexation and delay, owing to a want of mechanical assistance in fitting up and arranging our printing apparatus, we are enabled to present the public with the first number of the first paper ever printed in Seattle. It is neither so large as a barn door, nor the London Times; but it is the best we can offer for a beginning, and is we trust sufficient for the time and place. If however that encouragement which has been promised, and which is alike the interest of every member of the community to offer, shall be forthcoming, it may be confidently expected that not many moons will wax and wane until among the institutions of this thriving place may be counted a newspaper as respectable in size and appearance as any in Washington Territory.The Seattle Gazette lasted for three and a half years and went through some seven publishers before closing.
"The time is near at hand when we are to have at least one important town on Puget Sound. We have an abiding confidence that Seattle is to be that place" (The Seattle Gazette).