1st Edition

The Antebellum Press Setting the Stage for Civil War

Edited By David B. Sachsman, Gregory A. Borchard Copyright 2019
    290 Pages
    by Routledge

    290 Pages
    by Routledge

    The Antebellum Press: Setting the Stage for Civil War reveals the critical role of journalism in the years leading up to America’s deadliest conflict by exploring the events that foreshadowed and, in some ways, contributed directly to the outbreak of war.

    This collection of scholarly essays traces how the national press influenced and shaped America’s path towards warfare. Major challenges faced by American newspapers prior to secession and war are explored, including: the economic development of the press; technology and its influence on the press; major editors and reporters (North and South) and the role of partisanship; and the central debate over slavery in the future of an expanding nation. A clear narrative of institutional, political, and cultural tensions between 1820 and 1861 is presented through the contributors’ use of primary sources. In this way, the reader is offered contemporary perspectives that provide unique insights into which local or national issues were pivotal to the writers whose words informed and influenced the people of the time.

    As a scholarly work written by educators, this volume is an essential text for both upper-level undergraduates and postgraduates who study the American Civil War, journalism, print and media culture, and mass communication history.

    List of Figures

    Preface, David B. Sachsman


    Gregory A. Borchard


    Newspapers, Agenda Setting, and a Nation Under Stress

    Donald L. Shaw and Thomas C. Terry, with Milad Minooie

    Chapter 2

    The "Irrepressible Conflict" and the Press in the Late Antebellum Period

    Debra Reddin van Tuyll

    Part I: Nullification, Abolition, and Division

    Chapter 3

    Nat Turner’s Revolt Spurs Southern Fears and Sparks Public Debate over Slavery

    James Scythes

    Chapter 4

    Disunion or Submission? Southern Editors and the Nullification Crisis, 1830–1833

    Erika Pribanic-Smith

    Chapter 5

    Abolitionist Editors: Pushing the Boundaries of Freedom’s Forum

    David W. Bulla

    Chapter 6

    When the Pen Gives Way to the Sword: Editorial Violence in the Nineteenth Century

    Abigail G. Mullen

    Chapter 7

    An Editorial House Divided: The Texas Press Response to the Compromise of 1850

    Mary M. Cronin

    Chapter 8

    "The Good Old Cause": The Fugitive Slave Law and Revolutionary Rhetoric in The Boston Daily Commonwealth

    Nicole C. Livengood

    Chapter 9

    Franklin Pierce and the Failure of Compromise: Newspaper Coverage of the Compromise Candidate, the "Nebraska Act," and the Midterm Elections of 1854

    Katrina J. Quinn

    Chapter 10

    Abolitionism, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and the End of Compromise

    Dianne M. Bragg

    Chapter 11

    "Like so many black skeletons": The Slave Trade through American and British Newspapers, 1808–1865

    Thomas C. Terry and Donald L. Shaw

    Part II: The Election of 1856, Dred Scott, and the Lincoln-Douglas Debates

    Chapter 12

    1856: A Year of Volatile Political Reckoning

    Dianne M. Bragg

    Chapter 13

    Doughface Democrats, James Buchanan, and Manliness in Northern Print and Political Culture

    Brie Swenson Arnold

    Chapter 14

    "Free Men, Free Speech, Free Press, Free Territory, and Frémont"

    Gregory A. Borchard

    Chapter 15

    Newspaper Coverage of Dred Scott Inflames a Divided Nation

    William E. Huntzicker

    Chapter 16

    "More than a Skirmish": Press Coverage of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates

    David W. Bulla

    Part III: The Election of 1860 and the Crisis of Secession

    Chapter 17

    The Democrats Divide: Newspaper Coverage of the 1860 Presidential Conventions

    Brian Gabrial

    Chapter 18

    Fanning the Flames: Extremist Rhetoric in the Antebellum Press

    Phillip Lingle

    Chapter 19

    The Fire-Eating Charleston Mercury: Stoking the Flames of Secession and Civil War

    Debra Reddin van Tuyll

    Chapter 20

    "Our all is at stake": The Anti-Secession Newspapers of Mississippi

    Nancy McKenzie Dupont

    Chapter 21

    Exchange Articles Carried by the New York Evening Post, December 13–31, 1860

    Erika Thrubis

    Chapter 22

    War of Words: Border State Editorials During the Secession Period

    Melony Shemberger


    About the Editors




    David B. Sachsman holds the West Chair of Excellence in Communication and Public Affairs. He came to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga from California State University, Fullerton, where he served as dean and professor of the School of Communications. Previously, he was chair of the Department of Journalism and Mass Media at Rutgers University. Dr. Sachsman is the director of the annual Symposium on the 19th Century Press, the Civil War, and Free Expression. His previous works include The Civil War and the Press (2000), Sensationalism (2013), A Press Divided (2014), and After the War (Routledge, 2017).

    Gregory A. Borchard, a professor in the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, has written numerous works on journalism history, including A Narrative History of the American Press (Routledge, 2019). Together with David W. Bulla, he is the author of Lincoln Mediated (2015), and Journalism in the Civil War Era (2010). He is also the author of Abraham Lincoln and Horace Greeley (2011) and editor of Journalism History, a quarterly journal published by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s History Division.