Slavery. The most hotly debated, and the most propagandized, subject during the Antebellum period. Abolitionist societies flooded both the North and the South with anti-slavery propaganda. Thousands of pamphlets were printed, slave narratives were published, debates and symposiums were held, songs and poems were written, anti-slavery magazines were established. As early as 1820 abolitionist editors worked tirelessly to sway public opinion in both regions. But perhaps no one reached more readers, or influenced more northerners than the impetuous, and idealistic, Horace Greeley.1 That Greeley’s effect was so strong is not surprisingly since the abolitionist journals tended to be provincial in audience reach and their circulations were relatively small. Also, Greeley's stance was on slavery was probably more acceptable to the majority of northerners simply because he was not as strident as the mildest abolitionist, primarily because he believed a strong stance on emancipation would result in label every one in his party as a "Black Republican." In addition, by 1860 Greeley’s Weekly Tribune reached more than 200,000 northerners, while he also published semi-weekly Tribunes and a Tribune Almanac, both of which were ripe with Greeleyisms.2
Although other newspapers, such as the New York Herald and the New York Times, had larger circulations, no one reached the rural inhabitants of the North like the Tribune, and no big city editor was more openly opposed to slavery than Greeley.3 Perhaps more importantly, the glue which united the Republican Party was the antislavery movement4 and no newspaper reached the various elements of the Republican Party as well as Greeley’s weekly and daily Tribunes.
The Mexican War, 1846-48, was the first foreign war reported extensively by American
correspondents.2 Daily newspapers provided organized coverage of the American expeditionary
forces and made expensive, elaborate arrangements to have the news carried back to
the United States.3
Also important to the war's coverage, a large number of American civilians followed in the wake of the army and established "occupation newspapers" in Mexico. Before the conflict was over, enterprising American printers established 25 such publications in 14 occupied cities.4 Serving both the troops at the front and the public at home, these papers provided much of the war's coverage.
Many of the war papers were encouraged by the U. S. military authorities because they helped the army maintain local control by publishing official decrees and regulations. In a number of instances these papers were supported by military patronage. Of the 25 American-operated occupation papers, 16 eventually closed their doors because of financial or related problems, five were suppressed by the U.S. military and four continued to operate even after the war ended.