I got tired of having to click through the tabs in Joomla 1.0.x to change my publishing state from unpublished to published and check the show on frontpage item everytime I posted a new article. That being said, I did a little research and figured out how to change the default settings. It requires you to modify the core joomla code, so if you patch your site to a new joomla version and they replace the file you will have to reapply this patch. All you have to do is open the /components/com_content/content.php file and look for the $row->state variable in the editItem() function. By default it is set to 0 and you will want to change it to 1.
The $row->state variable will change the default publishing status. 0 being unpublished and 1 being published.
The $row->frontpage variable will change the default status for whether or not an item will show up on the frontpage. 0 means it will not show up on the frontpage and 1 means it will show up on the frontpage.
In my content.php file, the $row->state variable was on line 1,843 – but this may vary for you depending on the version of Joomla you are running.