The Revolutionary Era: Primary Documents on Events from 1776 to 1800

The Revolutionary Era: Primary Documents on Events from 1776 to 1800

The Revolutionary Era: Primary Documents on Events from 1776 to 1800

The Revolutionary Era: Primary Documents on Events from 1776 to 1800

Synopsis

Beginning with an extensive overview essay of the period, this book focuses on 26 pressing issues of the war and the early republic. Each issue is presented with an introductory essay and multiple primary documents from the newspapers of the day, which illustrate both sides of the debate. This is a perfect resource for students interested in the Revolutionary War, the birth of the new nation, and the actual opinions and words of those involved.

Excerpt

As the eighteenth century was giving way to the nineteenth, the Columbian Centinel of Boston, quoting a wise judge on January 1, 1799, said, “Give to any set of men the command of the press, and you give them the command of the country, for you give them the command of public opinion, which commands everything.” One month later, Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison with a similar insight. “We are sensible,” Jefferson said of the efforts it would take to put their party—the Republicans—in power, “The engine is the press.”

Both writers were correct in their assessment of the role the press would play in American life in the years ahead. The press was already helping to shape the opinions and direction of America. It had been doing so for decades, but its influence would explode following the Revolutionary War and continue into the 1920s and farther. From fewer than 40 newspapers in 1783—each with circulations of around 500—the number of papers erupted in the United States. By 1860, newspaper circulation exceeded 1 million, and in 1898, Joseph Pulitzer’s World alone had a daily circulation of 1.3 million. By the beginning of World War I, about 16,600 daily and weekly newspapers were published, and circulation figures passed 22.5 million copies per day with no slowdown in circulation in sight. Magazines grew even more impressively. From around 5 at the end of the Revolution, journalism historian Frank Luther Mott counted 600 in 1860 and a phenomenal 3,300 by 1885. Some circulations surpassed 1 million, and the number of maga

zines continued to grow into the twentieth century. The amazing growth of the press happened because the printed page of periodicals assumed a critical role in the United States. Newspapers and

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