The Press Gang: Newspapers and Politics, 1865-1878

By Mark Wahlgren Summers | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
A General System of Exchange, or, A D--d Bad Beat

As the joint high commissioners from Britain and the United States finished work on the Alabama treaty in late April 1871, every report agreed that the results would be far-reaching. Covering not just the claims Americans demanded for depredations committed by the British-built Confederate privateer, the Alabama, but disputes in the Pacific Northwest, along the Canadian border, and among fishermen off the Atlantic coast, the document's provisions would remove every excuse for war between the two great English- speaking powers. It should have been a time for celebration. 1

For some it was, but not for journalists. They had been shut out of the negotiations. Correspondents hounded the English commissioners from the moment their steamer had reached Jersey City, chased after their carriages, pursued them into the hotel washrooms, pumped the secretaries and valets for information, and even tried to coax tidbits of evidence from the diplomats' wives. None of it did any good. The English commissioners politely declined to be interviewed, as did the Americans, not so

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