News in the Mail: The Press, Post Office, and Public Information, 1700-1860s

News in the Mail: The Press, Post Office, and Public Information, 1700-1860s

News in the Mail: The Press, Post Office, and Public Information, 1700-1860s

News in the Mail: The Press, Post Office, and Public Information, 1700-1860s

Synopsis

This work charts the relationship between the press and post office from colonial times through the Civil War. The book shows that the federal governemnt in the 1790s underwrote the circulation of printed matter and how the postal policy governing public information led to a cultural clash between the North and South that was partly a barometer of the tension that led to the Civil War. News in the Mail not only looks at the government's role in disseminating news and promoting communication, but also examines the structure and implications of this country's early communication system.

Excerpt

Today, few would question that television and related technologies play an important role in bringing pictures of the world, literally and figuratively, into people's homes. For much of American history, the post office and press working together performed essentially the same task. Postal transports brought raw news to editors and then delivered finished publications to readers. Accordingly, the post office--a huge, complex, and unwieldy institution--left an enduring imprint on the press. and the two intertwined institutions presented Americans with the possibilities and problems that any major communication system poses for a society.

A number of persons, organizations, and libraries have provided support of inestimable value during the long course of this project. Edwin Emery and Hazel Dicken-Garcia helped launch this study, and their unflagging support is deeply appreciated. the University of Washington has provided a stimulating environment in which to rethink and rewrite the original manuscript. Richard D. Brown, Johanna Shields, Richard John, Jr., and Linda Lawson took an interest in my work and provided helpful leads.

A grant from the U.S. Postal Rate Commission and a fellowship from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Minnesota, not only kept me from incurring sizable debts, but also reflected an interest in my work that sustained me through times of self-doubt. Robert Cohen and Charles McBride of the Office of Technical Analysis and Planning, U.S. Postal Rate Commission, deserve thanks. the opinions expressed on the following pages, of course, do not necessarily reflect those of the commission, its members, or its staff.

Several libraries furnished materials that were essential in conducting my research. Wandering through the stacks at the Library of Congress proved . . .

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