The News Media and the Making of America, 1730-1865

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Although the repeal of the Stamp Act led many to briefly believe the Crown would leave the colonies alone, the institution of the Townshend Acts in 1767 erased that hope. The colonists’ resistance to these acts led to the establishment of…

The most famous African American in antebellum America was Frederick Douglass (ca. 1818-95), an escaped slave from Maryland who achieved renown in the North as an antislavery lecturer and writer. Douglass began his abolitionist career in league with…

Before the Civil War, Southerners were also consuming the popular Harper’s Weekly and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. After the commencement of the war, however, readers in the Confederate states were cut off from these papers. In…

As the war progressed, Harper’s Weekly changed from toeing the middle political (or even apolitical) ground to a more outright Union stance. This was also the case for its attitude toward African Americans. By 1863, especially after the…

Harper’s Weekly became such a mainstay of popular news culture during the Civil War, that the newspaper could make references to its own popularity within its illustrations. Copies of Harper’s are among the presents Santa Claus is…

Harper Brothers publishing house in New York set the standard for illustrated magazines with the inauguration of its very popular Harper’s Monthly Magazine in1850, a staid literary magazine aimed at a broad but genteel reading public. This…

Though much of the imagery surrounding African Americans was full of stereotypes and caricatures throughout the war, even in the North, positive depictions of African Americans began to appear more often as the war progressed. Though some unofficial…

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, established in 1855,was the first successful pictorial newspaper in the United States. Before immigrating to the United States in 1848, Frank Leslie (born Henry Carter; 1821-80) had worked for six years in…

The first newspaper in America south of the Potomac River was the Virginia Gazette, founded by William Parks (1699-1750) in 1736. Parks, who had previously operated a print shop and published a newspaper in Maryland, brought printing to Williamsburg…

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The Boston News-Letter was the first newspaper in America to survive beyond its first issue. Indeed, it survived for seventy-two years as a fixture of the Boston publishing scene. The founding editor and publisher was John Campbell (1653-1728), who…