American Mass-Market Magazines

By Alan Nourie; Barbara Nourie | Go to book overview

Schmidt's thesis is that the Register was not as purely nonpartisan as Niles himself and modern historians have claimed, but it was not stridently partisan like other contemporary publications. Niles was an ardent Jeffersonian when the Register first appeared, but a Whig by the 1830s. He prided himself in consistency on issues and political pragmatism. Unlike most contemporary papers, the Register would frequently present opposing viewpoints or documents.

The conviction of Hezekiah Niles that his Register would become a record for the future was well justified. He carefully indexed and stockpiled volumes for future use as reference tools, and indeed the Register is perhaps the most valuable source of Americana for the first half of the nineteenth century. This explains why he retained the "book-like" size and format throughout his twenty- five years as editor. Contemporaries held the Register in great esteem, and Niles went to great lengths to maintain the accuracy of his paper as well as the quality of printing. While the Congress refused requests to provide public funds to support the Register, public officials referred to the Register as the source of record for many documents. Hezekiah Niles gained the confidence of the nation. Norval Neil Luxon observes that only 2 of 149 magazines founded between 1741 and 1811 lasted as long as the Register. 5 The disastrous suspensions under the final two editors undermined the confidence of readers. Moreover, the growth of daily and weekly newspapers in the mid-nineteenth century spelled the end of the Register. Neither Hughes nor Beatty understood the special niche of the Register or captured the contemporary scene with the editorial flair of Hezekiah Niles, and thus the most important source documenting a critical period in the development of the new American nation came to an end.


Notes
1.
Frank Luther Mott, A History of American Magazines, vol. 1: 1741-1850 ( Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1930), p. 268.
2.
The rate was lowered to $4 for the seventy-fifth volume, but even the offer of $3 for the three issues of the seventy-sixth volume did not attract sufficient subscribers for survival. Norval Neil Luxon, Niles' Weekly Register: News Magazine of the Nineteenth Century ( Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1947), p. 8.
3.
For information on the three editors of the Register who followed Hezekiah Niles, see Luxon, pp. 66-74.
4.
Philip R. Schmidt, Hezekiah Niles and American Economic Nationalism ( New York: Arno Press, 1982), p. 296.
5.
Luxon, p. 305.

Information Sources

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Luxon, Norval Neil. Niles' Weekly Register: News Magazine of the Nineteenth Century. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1947.

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