The Press of the Young Republic, 1783-1833

By Carol Sue Humphrey | Go to book overview
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Preface

In the fifty years following the end of the Revolution, the American press grew and expanded. It capitalized on the lessons learned during the war and enlarged on them. Mechanically, newspapers improved immensely, becoming both more readable, with the introduction of new equipment and new type styles, and more available, as they expanded in circulation and frequency of publication. The year 1783 witnessed the first attempts at a daily newspaper, the Pennsylvania Evening Post; by 1833, eighty-eight dailies had appeared in the United States. Furthermore, the press diversified in type and content as magazines became an established part of the publishing business.

The press also reflected the growth of the country as it moved westward after the Revolution. In 1783, no newspapers were published west of the Appalachian Mountains. By 1833, publishers operated their presses from New York to beyond the Mississippi River and almost everywhere in between.

Finally, newspapers reflected the growth and the development of the nation internally through the ever-increasing diversification of labor. Newspaper offices went from small, one-person/one-family operations to large concerns with publishers, editors, correspondents, and printers, each with their own specific job to do. By the time Benjamin Day inaugurated the "penny press" in 1833, the American press had blossomed into a widespread, well-established institution that played an important role in keeping people informed about events in the world outside their own little community.

The half century following the fight for independence witnessed a period of growing pains for the press as printers became editors and sought their niche in American society. Newspapers played an important political role as the press became a part of the partisanship that characterized most of this period. As political parties grew in the United States, newspapers became an essential part of the com

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