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2002 Abstracts

Janice Wood, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, “Ida Craddock: Sentenced to free-speech martyrdom”

Ida Craddock has long been forgotten as a sex educator in the late 19th Century. At the one –hundredth anniversary of her suicide, Craddock’s career is re-examined here for its contribution to the evolution of American free speech.  In an age when sex was never discussed, she distributed brochures such as “The Wedding Night,” intended to prepare Victorian honeymooners for sexual intercourse.

 

Yet the pamphlets plunged her into conflict with notorious crusader for morality Anthony Comstock, who condemned Craddock’s work as a corrupting influence on children.

 

Arrested on obscenity charges in several U. S. cities, Craddock landed in a New York jail, but Comstock’s efforts did not stop there. Upon release, she was rearrested and sentenced to a longer term in a federal prison.  Plagued by charges of insanity and weary from her legal battles, the 45-year-old Craddock killed herself rather than bear imprisonment again. In this paper, correspondence during her New York jail term was examined, to reveal new insights into her frame of mind at that time, just months before she died.  While her death might have been a triumph for Comstock, it shook public support for his tyrannical campaign. Her cause brought together a community of liberal reformers who saw her as a martyr and vowed to avenge the loss. They formed organizations that eventually brought Comstock’s influence to an end and established a stronger foundation for free speech, whatever the subject.

 

B. Tripp, “Lewis Tappan and the Friends of Amistad: The Crusade To Save The Abolitionist Movement”

Abolitionist Lewis Tappan sat in the New Haven, Connecticut, law office of Roger Sherman Baldwin. Tappan’s task, as defined by the “Friends of the Amistad”, was to convince Baldwin to serve as chief counsel for the defense of the Mendi captives who had revolted aboard the Spanish schooner, La Amistad.

 

This was not the first visitor to seek out Baldwin, who had established an impressive record in the field of constitutional liberties since his admission to the bar in 1814. He had also received letters from New London abolitionist Dwight P. James and the Rev. Joshua Leavitt, editor of the American Anti-Slavery Society’s Emancipator, as well as visits from prominent New Haven banker Amos Townsend Jr. and Connecticut abolitionist John F. Norton. Now Tappan, the controversial antislavery moralist from New York, implored him to do everything for the captives that “humanity and Justice require.”

 

This study examines how Tappan and other abolitionists would use the case to shore up lagging support for the cause at a crucial stage of the abolitionist movement and to serve as a rallying cry that provided the momentum to nudge the country ever closer to ending slavery.

 

Crompton B. Burton, “History Thrice Removed: Popular Perception of  Joshua Chamberlain and the Defense of Little Round Top”

Popular perception of the battle for the Union left on the second day at Gettysburg is greatly influenced by contemporary docudrama.  A significant question for consideration is whether the genre of film, in this case based upon historical fiction, can offer a meaningful interpretation of the events which actually took place or whether Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain’s and his regiment’s moment of truth on the big screen drifts so far from that which is known of the engagement as to render the movie’s screenplay without merit other than as a vehicle for sheer entertainment.

 

There is evidence enough to suggest that rejecting the screenplay of Gettysburg out of hand neglects key dynamics of ongoing historical study,  research, their relation to the concept of true history and standards by which film must be held accountable to the past.

 

Conflicting accounts, absentee authors and fading memory all contribute to the notion that the only true consensus pertaining to the events of July 2, 1863 upon Little Round Top is that there can be no definitive account of what unfolded during the desperate combat between the Twentieth  Maine and the Fifteenth Alabama. Hence, it may be argued that in  the absence of a single, true record of the engagement, Ronald Maxwell’s screenplay is a viable source of historical interpretation so long as its merits in presenting history for  popular consumption are not held to the exact same criteria used to judge published accounts of the action.

 

Donald K. Brazeal, University of Minnesota, “Technology Revisited: A Fresh Examination of the 1830s Penny Press and Printing Presses”

The creation of electronic media in the last half of the 20th Century demonstrated the significant influence of purely technological decisions on the eventual use of those media for journalism and other purposes. However, the technological decisions surrounding the first truly mass medium – the 1830s penny press and it’s relatively high-speed presses – are largely left unexamined. A fresh perspective on penny press histories and sources of data reveals significant misunderstanding about that medium’s evolution: The driving forces for faster printing presses and newspaper innovations largely came from outsiders and technologists, not from what are usually characterized as “journalists.” Innovations, such as tabloid-size pages and new distribution methods, were often technologically and economically based – quite independent of any journalistic purpose. Significantly, some early, purely technological decisions also had lasting impact on the entire industry.

 
Edward J. Blum and Sarah Hardin, University of Kentucky, “The Search for Community and Justice Robert Penn Warren, Race Relations, and the Civil War”

“The Civil War is urgently our war, and… reaches in a thousand ways into our blood stream and our personal present.” So wrote Robert Penn Warren, one of America’s greatest men of letters and - alongside William Faulkner - the most respected literary voice of the American South in the twentieth century. Beginning with childhood stories from his grandfather, Warren always loved history, especially the Civil War. To him, the past and the “War Between the States” influenced every aspect of society, even as he wrote nearly one hundred years after it. “[T]he effects of the war,” he claimed, “for better and worse, permeate American life and culture.” For Warren, the Civil War stood as the central aspect of American history and remembering it constituted the most critical aspect of national identity: “To experience this appeal, in fact, [is] the very ritual of being American.”

 

Although Warren cherished history, historians have not always cherished Warren. In fact, when Warren published his first historical study at the youthful age of 24, leading historians blasted him. His biography of abolitionist-made-martyr John Brown garnered the derision of several master scholars, including Avery Craven, Allan Nevins, Florence Finch Kelly, and Sterling A. Brown. Writing for the New York Times Book Reviews, Kelly labeled Warren a “young” scholar whose work was “superficial.” “And still they come,” Kelly chided, “these young iconoclasts, aflame with crusading zeal and bent on telling the oldsters where they got off with their historical hero-worshiping.” Sterling Brown claimed that Warren’s study was a “masterpiece of detraction” written from “an obvious” pro-southern bias. “The biography,” he concluded, “leaves the ranks of important interpretations, and becomes more of a Southerner’s confession of faith.” And as Warren’s career progressed, he continued to receive extensive criticism from reviewers. Some critics lambasted his 1961 fictional account of the Civil War, Wilderness, as “inexorably didactic.”

 

But such reviews fail to recognize Warren’s brilliance as a historian. Indeed, he was a superb chronicler of the past. For over five decades during the middle of the twentieth century, Warren demonstrated all of the skills necessary to be considered a master scholar of the Civil War and nineteenth- and twentieth-century America: he tackled difficult historical questions and issues, including the justness of southern segregation, the origins of the Civil Rights Movement, and the social and cultural meanings of the Civil War; he employed historical methodologies like oral history that became widely acclaimed decades after Warren had used them; he looked beyond the rhetoric of sectional glorifiers and challenged their basic premises; and he was willing to recognize faults in his own scholarship as his career continued. In short, Warren asked good questions, forged powerful and creative tools, sought underlying meanings, and accepted revision. Above these traits, however, Warren stood as a marvelous scholar because he interpreted the characters and plots of American history and the Civil War in order to help build stronger and deeper communities within the United States during his own lifetime. Ultimately, by analyzing several of Warren’s key works on history and the Civil War and by comparing them with studies by preeminent American historians, this essay concludes that Warren should be considered one of the nation’s finest students of the past.

 

Gary Hornseth, University of Minnesota, “Inordinate Vanity vs. Unblemished Morality” Editorial Representation of Presidential Candidate Horace Greeley”

This paper, part of thesis research examining newspaper treatment of the campaign of prominent journalist Horace Greeley as he opposed incumbent President U.S. Grant in the unusual election of 1872, reports a content and frame study of coverage in four leading U.S. newspapers during four critical periods of the campaign:  the Atlanta Constitution, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune and the Minneapolis Tribune.

Primary research questions were 1) How did newspapers representing varying political agendas frame the prospects of the Greeley candidacy (whether or not Greeley would win)? and 2)  What correspondence, if any, existed between each newspaper’s political viewpoints and its treatment of the legitimacy of Greeley as a candidate (whether or not he ought to win)? 

 

Hypotheses related to these questions were: 1) Newspaper framing of the prospects of the Greeley candidacy will reflect the newspapers’ respective political agendas; and 2) Newspapers opposing Greeley’s candidacy will be more likely than supporting papers to frame Greeley as an illegitimate candidate.

 

The findings supported the hypotheses, suggesting that editors at the four newspapers constructed varying realities of Greeley and the Greeley campaign in accordance with their respective political stances.  Specifically, the findings indicate that realities constructed regarding two important aspects of Greeley as a candidate -- his prospects for success and his legitimacy as a candidate -- varied as well, in accordance with these political stances.

 

Hazel Dicken-Garcia and Linus Abraham, University of Minnesota, “African Americans and the Civil War as reflected in the Christian Recorder, 1861-1862”

Given the African American Christian Recorder=s strong religious commitment and the fact that most blacks seemed to have believed a Civil War Union military victory would mean full  rights for African Americans, how did this newspaper treat conflict between Christian principles and war?   How did the editor and other writers orient readers toward the Civil War as a social problem? How did newspaper content construct the war, its causes, and its relationship to African Americans?  To explore these questions, a model for examining how conflicting ideological positions may be reconciled in messages to orient an audienceBin this case toward the Civil War as a social problemBwas used in study of the Christian Recorder during the first year and a half of the Civil War.  

 

Three major discourses and interpretive frames within those discourses were identified in three subject areas: Christianity and the War, African Americans and the War, and  Black Soldiers in this War.  Writers condemned war as unchristian but constructed this war as Arighteous@;  they suggested the war served blacks= (and national) interests if it eradicated slavery and de-legitimized colonization; and, while indicating that African Americans clearly had a stake in the war, the newspaper=s content showed ambivalence about blacks= military participation: Blacks stood ready [even eager] to fight but were reluctant without guaranteed full civil rights.

 

Harlen Makemson, Elon University, “Anglophobia as Art: Free Trade and Protection in Grover Cleveland Political Cartoons”

The scandals of the 1884 campaign made great fodder for the burgeoning field of political satire. “A Campaign of Caricature” was lauded and loathed for how it “opened up a new field of partisan work and tilled it with an originality little short of extraordinary.” Previous research has left the impression that the defining characteristic of cartooning against Grover Cleveland in the 1884 campaign was a relentless focus on Cleveland’s illegitimate child scandal. This paper will demonstrate that the graphic discourse gave a much broader argument for why a Cleveland presidency would be damaging to the country. A heavy focus on the tariff issue echoed GOP charges that free trade would put American laborers out of work, in turn creating a hardship for their families. In pro-Republican cartoons, Cleveland was not only undermining the moral fabric of the American family but was taking food off its table. Although American trade policy and sexual scandal seem like wildly divergent topics, in this campaign they worked together in anti-Cleveland cartoons to make an argument that the political unknown would accelerate the erosion of Victorian family values.

 

Jessica Dorman, Penn State Harrisburg, “Inheritors of a Sentimental Mantle: The 19th-Century Roots of Progressive Era Muckraking”

The modus operandi of muckraking is excess: facts lavished, interest wrought, hearts wrenched.  Objectivity, the byword of journalism, confronts sympathy, the byproduct of narrative.  Fact and fiction coalesce in a chaos of thought and passion, all confused.

 

Why did Progressive Era muckraking emerge, flourish, fade?  And whom did it serve?  This paper argues that a sentimental impulse shaped the craft, and the self-image, of Progressive Era muckraking journalists.  I suggest that nineteenth-century literary strategies informed twentieth-century exposé journalism.  And, through an examination of episodes in the careers of two McClure’s staff writers – William Allen White and Ida Tarbell – I further suggest that sentimentality both boosted and compromised the reform potential of muckraking.

 

Some critics have blamed business conspiracies for the “decline” of muckraking.  Other critics have emphasized the dispiriting influence of Teddy Roosevelt’s 1906 “muck-rake” speech.  I propose a new hypothesis: that the decline of muckraking was due, at least in part, to a mismatch between language and target.  The sentimental strains in muckraking journalism, while audience-pleasing, tended to induce personal catharsis rather than systemic change.

 

James E. Hall, ““Draw Him Up, Boys”: A Historical Review of Lynching Coverage in Select Virginia Newspapers, 1880-1900”

When a white man named Captain Yancey walked into a bar in Keysville, Va., in 1890, he saw two black men playing cards and quarrelling over five cents. Yancey told them that five cents was too small an amount to argue over, and he offered the wronged man a nickel.

 

One of the card players, Thaddeus Fowlkes, became upset and rushed at Yancey. “I don’t allow no damn white man to interfere with me,” he said, plunging a knife into Yancey’s belly and spilling his blood onto the barroom floor.

 

Yancey died the next day, and Fowlkes was arrested and charged with murder. Residents probably would have lynched him then, but a judge ordered the sheriff to take him to Danville, 60 miles away.

 

Later, when the sheriff brought Fowlkes back to town for the trial, a mob stopped them on the road from the train station. The mob dragged Fowlkes to a pine tree 150 yards from the road, and when the leader cried, “Draw him up, boys,” they hanged him.

 

The Richmond Dispatch, the regional daily, reported on the lynching the next day, noting that the only cause for regret in Keysville was that with Fowlkes dead, the prosecuting attorney would not be collecting his fee. “The colored people concurred in the action of the lynchers,” the paper added.

 

The coverage of Fowlkes’ death by what was then the largest-circulation newspaper in the state illustrates the attitude toward lynching of many of Virginia’s white-owned newspapers of the late 19th century. These newspapers excused lynching and, at times, even encouraged it. They voiced contempt for blacks and support for their harsh treatment.

 

The state’s black-owned newspapers, such as John Mitchell, Jr.’s The Richmond Planet, offered a contemporary alternative. They opposed lynching as barbaric and described it as Virginia’s shame. Later, in the early years of the 20th century, white papers would adopt a more neutral tone in their reporting and join black papers in editorially condemning the ritual.

 

However, during the “killing years” of 1880 to 1900, when more blacks were lynched in the United States than at any other time, Virginia’s mainstream white newspapers joined in the mania. The purpose of this paper is to show how select white-owned newspapers in Virginia, through graphic coverage and racist assumptions, refused to recognize blacks as full citizens and supported the use of lynching as a means of punishing and controlling them.  This study confirms the findings of Richard M. Perloff, author of one of the few studies on newspapers and lynching, who observed that Southern papers of the late 19th century provided vicious coverage of lynchings and wrote editorials that defended it. 

 

The 86 lynch stories reviewed here from 17 Virginia newspapers also serve as a window on the language, thought, and customs of the times. They tell of advance planning by mobs, of indifferent local officials who ignored the obvious, and of murder carried out without consequence. White-owned newspapers, sometimes without intending it, articulated the harsh reality of race relations in late 19th-century Virginia. During this period, blacks were subjected to systematic, statewide campaigns of segregation, discrimination, and disenfranchisement. The mainstream publications helped uphold this treatment and mold public opinion; their support of lynching helped perpetuate the practice.

 

Joseph P. McKerns, “A Press Insider’s View of Reconstruction Era Journalism in Washington, D.C., 1865-1877”

The  history of Reconstruction era journalism has received little scholarly attention in comparison to Civil War era and New Journalism era press history. Squeezed between these two influential periods in the history of American journalism, the Reconstruction era press seems to have been squeezed out of our history texts and scholarly studies. If one were to draw any conclusions from this “leap-frogging” of the Reconstruction period in American journalism history, it would be that the period is of little significance in the evolution of daily journalism in American history.

 

This paper seeks to contribute to a fuller appreciation of the Reconstruction era’s impact on American journalism by looking at the world of Washington correspondence during Reconstruction through the eyes of one of the press corps’ major figures, Benjamin Perley Poore. It looks inside the life of this prominent correspondent, examining what methods, motives, values, and practices shaped his reporting. Three aspects of this journalist’s work are examined in order to offer several perspectives on the subject, i.e., (1) the impact of party politics and intra-party conflict on a journalist’s life and work, (2) changes in the way news was gathered brought on by changes in the way government operated, and (3) the role friendship played in a reporter’s life and work, how it could open doors, or trap an unwitting reporter in internecine conflict.

Janice Wood, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, “Ida Craddock: Sentenced to free-speech martyrdom”

 

Ida Craddock has long been forgotten as a sex educator in the late 19th Century. At the one –hundredth anniversary of her suicide, Craddock’s career is re-examined here for its contribution to the evolution of American free speech.  In an age when sex was never discussed, she distributed brochures such as “The Wedding Night,” intended to prepare Victorian honeymooners for sexual intercourse.

 

Yet the pamphlets plunged her into conflict with notorious crusader for morality Anthony Comstock, who condemned Craddock’s work as a corrupting influence on children.

 

Arrested on obscenity charges in several U. S. cities, Craddock landed in a New York jail, but Comstock’s efforts did not stop there. Upon release, she was rearrested and sentenced to a longer term in a federal prison.  Plagued by charges of insanity and weary from her legal battles, the 45-year-old Craddock killed herself rather than bear imprisonment again. In this paper, correspondence during her New York jail term was examined, to reveal new insights into her frame of mind at that time, just months before she died.  While her death might have been a triumph for Comstock, it shook public support for his tyrannical campaign. Her cause brought together a community of liberal reformers who saw her as a martyr and vowed to avenge the loss. They formed organizations that eventually brought Comstock’s influence to an end and established a stronger foundation for free speech, whatever the subject.

 

Katherine A. Pierce, University of Virginia, “Murder and Mayhem: Violence, Press Coverage and the Mobilization of the Republican Party in 1856”

In the early 1850s, both the Democratic and Whig parties in the North fractured and were punished at the polls by popular dissatisfaction. By 1856, two new parties, the nativist American Party or Know-Nothings and the exclusively northern Republicans, jockeyed to succeed the rapidly decaying Whigs as the major opponent of the Democrats.   At the start of the year, many observers believed the Know Nothings would prevail, but by year’s end, Republicans emerged victorious.  Republican hopes for success in the presidential campaign depended on forging a coalition of northern Know Nothings, Whigs, and anti-Nebraska Democrats behind the candidacy of John C. Frémont.

 

N. Dupont, “Keep Cool:  The Curious Stand of the New Orleans Daily Picayune during the Election of 1860”

In the years just prior to the Civil War, Southern newspapers were known for their allegiances to particular political parties and politicians.  While Northern newspapers had abandoned the “political press” strategy and replaced it with a “penny press” approach that emphasized low consumer cost, advertiser support, and political independence, Southern newspapers held on to their political positions.  Candidate endorsements and presenting political opinions in editorial content were their stock in trade.  Thus Southern newspapers had much to say about what the South should do to respond to rise of the abolition, the success of the Republican party, and the sectional crisis.

 

In the South’s largest city, The New Orleans Daily Picayune was a 19th century Southern journalism anomaly.  It adopted a penny press business approach and avoided a political position during the presidential election of 1860.  It tended to cover the campaigns of the three anti-Lincoln candidates with equal enthusiasm while leaving the voting decision to its readers. But it held firm to its beliefs on Unionism and Southern conservatism that were probably very consistent with the views of its readers and advertisers.  It also provides another example of that free speech was not entirely compromised in the antebellum South.

 

Phillip J. Tichenor, “Copperheadism and Community Conflict in Two Rivertowns: Civil War Press Battles in Prairie du Chien and La Crosse, Wisconsin, 1861-65”

There is a long-standing notion that conflict with an outside force is a powerful unifier of a nation, community, or group, with the Press serving as an agent of such unification and cohesion.  

 

Yet, in the case of the American Civil War, the role of the Press in community controversy remains an open question, especially where local "Copperhead" and Republican editors engaged in ferocious verbal combat.   While Copperheadism has been discussed at length as a regional and national phenomenon, its significance for local communities has received relatively less attention, although certain works on the "home front" are noteworthy.

 

Copperheadism was a basic component of the rancor and divisiveness that threatened total rupture and political collapse of the nation.   There was, as one scholar noted, a war within a war.   Editors supporting the Republican party, young and fervently behind President Abraham Lincoln, castigated the Copperheads, or "Peace Democrats," as traitors.  Copperhead politicians and editors responded that they were supporting "the Constitution as it is, the Union as it was."

 

Copperhead editors were subjected to not only bitter denunciation from Unionist newspapers but also, in several cases, outright suppression by either military order or mob attacks.

 

Stephen E. Towne, IUPUI, “Killing the Serpent Speedily: Governor Morton, General Hascall, And the Suppression of the Democratic Press in Indiana, 1863”

The military efforts to suppress Democratic newspapers in Indiana in the spring of 1863 are known to many historians, but the details are not.  In examining the events in Indiana closely, historians will find a concerted, official policy of government interference with the press during the Civil War.  General Milo S. Hascall’s General Orders number 9 of April 25, 1863, an amplification specific to Indiana of General Ambrose E. Burnside’s more well-known General Orders number 38, initiated an official military effort to suppress Democratic newspaper speech that was critical of the Abraham Lincoln administration, the U.S. Army, and the Northern war effort generally.  Hascall suppressed and attempted to suppress more Indiana newspapers than historians previously knew.  In doing so, Hascall successfully intimidated many Indiana Democratic newspapers into relative quiescence, much to the delight of Republican newspapers and politicians in the state.  This state of affairs did not last long, as Hascall lost a war of words with Indiana Democratic Congressman Joseph K. Edgerton, who effectively castigated the general’s policy and embarrassed the Republican war effort.  More importantly, Indiana Republican Governor Oliver P. Morton, who had opposed Hascall’s appointment to the Indiana military district command, saw the military efforts as counterproductive and re-energizing the anti-war Democratic movement.  He resented military interference with political and civil affairs in the state.  He successfully lobbied the Lincoln administration to have Burnside and Hascall removed.  Morton succeeded with the latter, and Hascall was relieved of his post on June 5, 1863.  The episode challenges a number of assumptions historians, most importantly journalism historians, make about military actions to suppress opposition newspapers in the North during the Civil War.

 

Jack Breslin, "Social Issues Treated in the Catholic World Magazine During the 1884-1897 Transition Period of the American Catholic Press"

The Catholic World magazine, a prominent Catholic monthly periodical, was first published in 1865 by Isaac Hecker, Founder of the Paulist Fathers. The World  attempted to address several key social issues, while staying within Church orthodoxy. In focusing on the treatment of social issues in the World during 1884-1897 Translation Period of the Catholic American Press, this study offers insights into the perceptions of clergy and laity during the late nineteenth century.

Mike Conway, "Dreiser of The Globe A Reassessment of Theodore Dreiser's Role as a Literary Journalist"

Theodore Dreiser is celebrated as a pioneer of naturalism in American fiction writing.  His novel, Sister Carrie, is considered to be one of the first American novels to portray the reality of life in the United States.  But while he is lauded for bringing realism to fiction, he is largely ignored for that same realism apparent in his early journalism.

Before he started writing novels, Theodore Dreiser was a newspaper reporter.  His journeyman career as a journalist involved newspapers in Chicago, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and New York City in the 1890s.  Many of the same attributes that he brought to fiction writing were apparent in his early newspaper writing.

But Dreiser later admitted to mixing fact and fiction in his newspaper writing.  Because of this admission, historians and literary critics have shied away from his journalistic work and rarely include him in the list of early literary journalists that includes the likes of Stephen Crane and Charles Dickens.           

This paper chronicles Dreiser’s years as a newspaper reporter at the end of the 19th Century and examines examples of his journalism.  The extreme attention to detail to create a vivid and memorable scene as well as his ability to frame a story in a larger context shouldn’t only be Dreiser’s legacy to fiction, but also his contribution to literary journalism.

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