The Press of the Young Republic, 1783-1833

By Carol Sue Humphrey | Go to book overview
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Changes in Journalism, 1800-1833

Journalism in the United States experienced a variety of changes during the early decades of the nineteenth century. The most obvious development was the large growth in the number of newspapers being published. In 1800, 234 newspapers were published in the United States; by 1833, that number had grown to 1,200. 1

Along with the growth in numbers came geographical expansion. Following the end of the Revolution, Americans began to move in greater numbers into the areas west of the Appalachian Mountains. Printers joined this caravan, and many established newspapers wherever they went. In 1786, John Scull produced the first paper printed west of the mountains, the Pittsburgh Gazette. The next year John Bradford published the Kentucky Gazette in Lexington. By 1800, twenty-one newspapers appeared in towns west of the mountains, and in 1808, the press crossed the Mississippi River as the Missouri Gazette appeared in St. Louis. Further growth in western publishing found encouragement from the national government in 1814 with the requirement that all federal laws be published in at least two newspapers in each state and territory. By 1819, areas as far west as Arkansas and. Texas had local newspapers. By the time the penny papers first appeared in New York in 1833, newspapers were published throughout the United States and its adjacent territories, providing a means of communication for almost everyone throughout the young Republic. 2

As was true with every other aspect of life in the United States during the nineteenth century, the Industrial Revolution produced changes in the field of journalism. The most readily visible change appeared in output, as the number of copies per issue expanded as a result of improved presses and other machines related to the printing business that had been developed to satisfy growing demand. Prior to the early I 800s, the printing industry had changed little since the days of Gutenberg. Printing was a slow process that involved thirteen steps just to produce one


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