Conference Archives

2001 Abstracts

G. Hornseth, “The Barren Honor: Four Newspapers’ Coverage of Journalist Horace Greeley as U.S. Presidential Candidate in 1872”

This paper, part of thesis research examining newspaper treatment of the campaign of Horace Greeley as he opposed incumbent President U.S. Grant in the unusual election of 1872, reports findings in coverage by four leading Eastern U.S. newspapers during four critical periods of the campaign by Greeley – the first journalist to be an official nominee of a major political party (and, in this case, nominated by two major political parties) for the U.S. Presidency.


Research focuses on 1) how journalists covered a fellow journalist seeking the U.S. Presidency, and 2) whether ethical issues were raised regarding the propriety of a journalist running for political office, let alone the highest office in the land.  Coverage was studied in four 1872 newspapers of varying political persuasions – the pro-Republican New York Times, the pro-Democrat New York World, the pro-Liberal Republican New York Tribune, and the pro-Republican, African-American New National Era.


Greeley’s fellow journalists: 1) generally avoided mention of, or made allowance for, Greeley’s status as an editor in considering his value as a candidate, but 2) tended to equate Greeley’s printed legacy of opinion on major issues of the day with an actual political record, and 3) with few exceptions, did not raise ethical concerns about Greeley’s status as a journalist-turned-candidate.


Aleen Ratzlaff, Tabor College, "Ebony Triangle: Network of Black Newspapers in Kansas, 1878-1900"

In the late-1870s, Kansas became the first western state to attract a mass migration of Southern blacks. The movement of blacks westward, while expanding the boundaries of the race, also increased the reach and impact of the black press. As African Americans relocated on the Kansas frontier, a robust network of newspapers evolved in three areas of the state. Editors strategically recruited correspondents and agents to increase their circulation in towns and cities. Initially, the editors centered their focus on communities within the state. Later, in efforts to increase their readership and revenues, they recruited correspondents in other areas.


The story of Kansas’s newspapers underscores the significance of the press as a primary social institution for African Americans during this time period. Newspapers aided communication among communities and, along with churches, schools, and fraternal organizations, provided a means for exerting influence and solidarity beyond a narrow locality. The Kansas newspapers multiplied opportunities for involvement in the public sphere and served as a forum for expression, as well as an outlet for employment and job training.  Although most of its readership lived in the Sunflower State, the press network in Kansas foreshadowed the shift by twentieth-century black newspapers to viewing readership as national rather than primarily local. Circumstances, such as the establishment of the Western Negro Association, spurred by editors in Kansas, suggest a similar pattern may have developed among black newspapers in other western states.


Dr. Bernell E. Tripp, University of Florida, "Like Father, Like Sons: The Antislavery Legacy of William Hamilton"

William Hamilton, the reputed son of Federalist statesman Alexander Hamilton, was a carpenter by trade. However, during the early 1830s, he had become a local leader among blacks in New York City as the abolitionist movement struggled to gain supporters and look for answers in ways other than moral suasion to improve the condition of the race.


Although formally educated in the city’s African Free Schools and the AME Zion Church, Thomas and his brothers learned much from the abolitionists, journalists, and educators who frequented their home. William Hamilton was an active participant in the yearly conventions of black men, where discussions focused on opposition to the American Colonization Society, support for black immigration to Canada, promotion of self-help through a black manual labor college, and encouragement of temperance among members of the race. These were all issues that found their way not only into the columns of the abolitionist and black newspapers of the late 1820s and early 1830s, and eventually into the pages of Hamilton’s sons’ newspapers and magazine.


This study examines the life of William Hamilton and the influence of his philosophies on the values and beliefs of his sons, who would later launch two of the most influential black publications of the Civil War era. The study also looks at how the concerns of the father became the concerns of the sons, who continued his quests, especially those regarding the issue of colonization, through the columns of their publications. The brothers’ opposition to colonization would eventually lead to a public newspaper debate against the primary agent for the Haitian Bureau of Emigration, James Redpath, and contribute to the resulting upsurge of black nationalism in the latter part of the century.


Crompton B. Burton, Ohio University, “Another Copperhead Lie”: Marcellus Emery and the Bangor Union and Democrat

James Gordon Bennett, Horace Greeley and Henry Raymond enjoy significant notoriety for their impact upon the newspaper industry during the American Civil War. As publishers of great influence in major metropolitan population centers, their work and their triumph are well-documented. Less well-known are the publishers and editors whose southern sympathies placed them among the ranks of the notorious and consigned them to a place in history or national memory that fails to recall their stand against threats to First Amendment rights of  a free press. Instead, critics’ portrayal of treasonous editorials and disloyal  interpretation of the political and military aspects of the conflict have survived to brand them as unworthy of significant study or analysis to date.


This study seeks to explore the nature of  historical perspective that comes as a byproduct of the institutional literature of the victors and portrays the plight and toil of so-called “Copperhead” editors based upon readily available documentation and record. Going beyond those perspectives, the paper also seeks to uncover the experience of a heretofore obscure champion of the Confederate cause in the northern reaches of the Union. The story of Marcellus Emery is significant and deserving of more than passing reference in the columns of his competition for what it tells us of dissent and the struggle to find a forum for opposing views and the risks associated with the intolerance of divergent opinion.


Edward J. Blum, University of Kentucky, Of Saints and Sinners: Religion and the Civil War and Reconstruction Novel

Through an exploration of Albion Tourgée’s and Thomas Dixon’s most noteworthy novels, A Fool’s Errand, Bricks Without Straw, The Leopard’s Spots, and The Clansman, this study seeks to investigate how religious ideologies influenced postwar America and the Civil War and Reconstruction novel. It reveals intersections of race, gender, and religion in relation to southern churches, northern missionaries, and regional reconciliation.


Using religion as a lens to view these novels, this essay sheds new light on Dixon’s and Tourgée’s works and also offers a new method of analysis for Civil War and Reconstruction novels. In fact, attention to religion exposes both differences and similarities in these texts. While Dixon described northern faith as corrupt, Tourgée viewed southern Christianity as hypocritical; although Dixon mocked Yankee missionaries to the South as idiotic blunderers, Tourgée praised them as angels sent from above. These differences, however, should not obfuscate the points they shared. Both depicted the Ku Klux Klan as a quasi-religious organization; both acknowledged the crucial position of southern churches as locations of cultural hegemony; and, finally, both believed that religion and the Protestant God must play a role in regional reconciliation. In short, these novelists used religion as a way to articulate regional differences and regional reconciliation, while they also employed religious motifs to explain racial and gender mores.


Frances A. Masamba, Georgia State University, "The Spiritualist Movement Controversy: A Study of Media Coverage 1850-1866"

During the 1850s and 1860s, spiritualism played a major role in the lives of believers, sometimes with profound effect. The media struggled, at first, to explain spiritualism and once described it as a religious expression “[taking] hold of earthiness…at one extreme and riding itself of miracles of the Divine Spirit by embracing… Table rappings [or knockings] at the other.” The First Spiritual Temple, established in the 1800’s, explains, “God is Spirit, …we…and our [departed]… loved ones are [also] Spirit,” [and spiritualism is] “communication with God and God’s kingdom of Spirit."


Fred Saddler, Temple University, "Transcending the Boundaries: Grace Greenwood’s Washington, 1850-1852"

“For her ability as a poet ‘Grace Greenwood’ thanked her mother—except in the matter of her name.  Could there be a more... unliterary appellation than Sara Jane Clarke...?” Born on September 23, 1823 in western New York State of New England stock, Clarke was reared in an educated and reformist household, and she turned to writing at an early age, publishing anti-slavery poetry in abolitionist journals.  By her early twenties, she had adopted writing as a profession, as well as the “Grace Greenwood” pseudonym, and she soon appeared on the masthead of Godey’s Lady’s Book as an assistant editor. In 1849 her friend, John Greenleaf Whittier, asked her to accept a commission from the National Era, a Washington, D.C. anti-slavery journal edited by him and Gamaliel Bailey.  Southern newspapers noted her byline in the Era and consequently put pressure on Louis Godey to remove her from the Lady’s Book, a journal also popular in the South.  In February 1850, her name was removed from the masthead.


At the Era, Bailey offered her the chance to continue writing and to move to Washington.  She accepted his offer and one from the Saturday Evening Post and arrived in the capital in June 1850. Greenwood was noted for her poetry, prose, and travel sketches in the Lady’s Book, and her informal letter-style columns quickly became popular.  She concerned herself with a variety of subjects, but she concentrated mostly on the practice of politics in Washington.  Her writings, although eclectic in subject matter, illustrate at least one significant point: on the national stage that was antebellum Washington, the line between the political and social worlds was fuzzy at best, if not non-existent.


More importantly, these “Letters from the Capitol” as they were usually titled, point to a much broader understanding of what “politics” meant in mid-nineteenth-century Washington.  For Greenwood, it was best explained as a staged drama.  The politicians were actors and as such the focus of attention, but they formed, in reality, a small part of the production.  Just as important was the audience—male or female, northern or southern, radical or conservative—that had the power to accept or reject, in myriad ways, the action on stage.  There were also those behind the scenes—party hacks, newspaper editors, agitators of various persuasions, etc.—who attempted to “manage” what was produced on the political stage.  Paramount for Greenwood, however, was how she understood her role and its function.  Greenwood cast herself as the critic, implying that she had the authority to interpret the action on stage for an extended, and in some ways passive, audience.  For a time, she mediated politicians’ actions and characters to the readership of a primarily political newspaper.  Not only Bailey, but also Greenwood, a woman, gave the Era’s readership access to a critical stance.  By so doing, she appropriated the power to alter or construct ideas about politics, masculinity, and performance in antebellum America.


Greg Borchard, University of Florida, "The Marketing of the Harrison Presidency: “The Log Cabin, Hard Times and Hard Cider, Too”"

Horace Greeley, editor of the Log Cabin, enjoyed his first major political victory in 1840 with the election of Whig candidate William Henry Harrison to the presidency. Greeley’s role in the race revolutionized the art of campaign advertising. He was successful because Harrison’s image was tailored to meet the desires of an energized electorate.


The Whigs maximized their support by developing ads that addressed the struggling economy, and the log cabins of the nation’s westward settlements were co-opted as symbols of freedom and security on an array of campaign materials. Harrison was promoted as “the Log Cabin Candidate,” setting the tone for the multi-media endeavor. Greeley shaped the party’s image into a desirable one by cross-marketing literature and propaganda with assorted songs, ads, and material tokens. Newspaper and journal articles reinforced Whig-organized activities including rallies, parades, meetings, and dances.


This paper cites a cross-section of materials from the “Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too,” campaign and suggests that Greeley and other Harrison supporters were acutely aware of salient issues that affected the voting public. This paper suggests that the Whigs did more than simply stir a “commotion” through a number of modern, sophisticated mass media techniques: Greeley’s own editorial style helped secure the success of his candidate, which also depended on the public’s desire for change.


Jessica A. Dorman, Penn State Harrisburg, "A Muckraker at Manassas: Upton Sinclair’s Civil War Fiction"

A lifelong crusader for social justice, Upton Beall Sinclair died in 1968 at age ninety, the last and most prolific of the Progressive Era muckrakers.  He had published his first book in 1901 and his last – some eighty titles later – in 1962.  Not until 1966 did poor health finally stanch the flow of essays and letters that had long marked his presence on the American scene.  Among Sinclair’s works were more than fifty novels; a verse drama titled “Hell”; a layman’s guide to fasting; attacks on organized religion, alcohol, and the American university; a treatise on psychic phenomena; four accounts of a 1934 foray into California state politics; two full-length memoirs; and biographies of O. Henry, Marie Antoinette, and Jesus. Still, despite the bulk and variegation of his written output, Sinclair will ever be remembered for a single, youthful accomplishment: the publication, in 1906, of The Jungle.


Joseph McKerns, Ohio State University, The Making of a Correspondent: Benjamin Perley Poore’s Early Years in Washington, D.C., 1847-1860

Benjamin Perley Poore was one of the first nationally known Washington correspondents in the pre-Civil War United States. By the time he died in 1887, he was considered the “Dean of the Washington Press Corps,” having covered national politics for nearly 40 years, most of that time for the Boston Journal. A native of Newburyport, Massachusetts, where he was born in 1820, Poore became a fixture in Washington society and political circles. His reputation rested on his knowing “men and measures,” i.e., he was close to influential members of Congress and presidents, especially Senator Charles Sumner, and President Ulysses S. Grant.


In addition to being the chief correspondent for the Journal, his articles on political, military and social affairs were published in newspapers and magazines across the United States. He also edited the Congressional Directory and the Congressional Record for many years, and served as clerk of several Congressional committees.


Poore’s career spanned the period when the Washington press corps emerged as a modern institution. This study examines that development from the “inside-out” as seen by one of the participants; one who was well-placed. Through the experiences of Poore, this study looks at the economic status of Washington correspondents, their values and ethics, and their routines and practices. As the press corps evolved, Poore was among those who played a large part in influencing its shape and character.


Katherine Roberts, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, “The Role of the First Lady and the Media: An Examination of Selected Newspaper Coverage of Dolley Madison, 1809-1817”

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the press coverage of First Lady Dolley Madison as reported in accounts published in three newspapers, the National Intelligencer, the organ of the Madison administration; the Charleston Daily Courier, a non-partisan publication; and the New York Post a Federalist newspaper.


Dolley Madison’s years as First Lady and relationship with the press are outlined first, to facilitate an understanding of coverage found in newspapers. Selected press reports of women in general are also discussed as a context for expected coverage.


Coverage of five events was analyzed in order to address how the First Lady’s role was defined in press content by looking at the images of Dolley Madison that appeared. The selected events included James Madison’s inaugurations on March 4, 1809, and March 4, 1813; the Madison’s first evening party, March 30, 1809; a flag presentation on December 8, 1812, and the February 15, 1815, peace treaty celebration.


The news reports were examined to try to identify what seemed acceptable for the First Lady role during the early 19th century when Dolley Madison was in the position. In the analysis, both the type and tone of coverage were noted, and particular attention was given to which events and activities were selected, excluded and emphasized.


This paper is a portion of a larger study about media coverage of First Ladies.


Meredith Campbell, J. Sergeant Reynolds Community College, “Snaggle-Tooth Jones, Mace’s Hole, and Confederates in Colorado: Confederate activity in Colorado during the first eighteen months of the Civil War and the Influence of the Rocky Mountain News”

When William N. Byers, founder and senior-editor, of the Rocky Mountain News printed "Stand by the Union" on April 20, 1861, for many in the city of Denver his words fell on deaf ears. Confederate flags flew in downtown Denver. Women wore Confederate rings. A popular saloon and theatre performed secesh-slanted shows. In Denver and up and down the Front Range--that area from Denver south to Raton Pass that fronts the foothills of the Rocky Mountains-- Confederate recruiting officers openly urged men to join their regiments and fight for the Confederacy. Yet, only eighteen months later the political climate had changed, so that Byers could report with glee the arrest of a drunken worker who hurrahed Jefferson Davis at a Union rally. Confederate soldiers had moved underground to a hiding place deep in Southern Colorado called "Mace's Hole." Rebel leaders perpetuating guerrilla warfare had been either captured or had fled the territory. And Colorado had been made safe from a Confederate invasion. 


Geographically far removed from the borders of the Confederacy and having no African slavery, one would think the mountain air would have bred a uniform loyalty to the Union. However, such was not the case. Why did Colorado, of all places, have a large pro-south element? To answer the question this paper will explore an overview of Colorado's demographics and settlement. After prospectors found gold along Dry Creek, near Denver, the "Pike's Peak" gold rush caused phenomenal growth. In February 1861 Colorado became an official territory of the United States. In April of that year The Rocky Mountain News, founded 1859, crowed about Denver emerging from being "a village of mud huts" to a city of "universally admitted importance." All the while, migration from the East continued and most of it from the southern states.


Research demonstrates that the Confederacy wanted Colorado and the Southwest, badly. It counted on the large number of Southern sympathizers inside the territory to help them obtain it. What happened? What kept a "fifth column" from exploding into an overt take over? Why didn't Confederate General Henry Sibley lead his Texas troops in victory up the Front Range? Three things kept Colorado out of the Confederate camp: the Rocky Mountain News as an agent of change, influencing political attitudes, the efforts of territorial Governor, William Gilpin as political leader, and the battle at Glorietta Pass, as the definitive military action in the Southwest. Using oral histories, extant issues of the Rocky Mountain News between December 1860 to the autumn of 1862, and other sources, this study shows how those three elements effectively kept Colorado in the Union.


Sarah Smith, University of Minnesota, “A Study of Motherhood in Godey’s Magazine: “A Wonderful Duty and the Basis of all Moral Culture””

As the nineteenth century progressed, mothering emerged as a topic deserving of public debate and a source of profit for those willing to offer their “expertise” on the matter.  Women’s publications, medical tracts and advice pamphlets rose to the occasion, depicting motherhood as a duty that women took to naturally, lovingly and with maternal instinct.  This research examines the role of motherhood throughout the nineteenth century in a specific publication, Godey’s Lady’s Book.  This paper covers a 62 year period, from 1835 to 1897, to explore the duties, societal responsibilities and categorizations that accompanied motherhood in the pages of Godey’s, in addition to the ways that these mother images relied on and reinforced a separate spheres ideology.


Thorin Tritter, Princeton University, “The New York Evening Star:  A Different Perspective on the Press of the 1830s”

The 1830s are often referred to as a revolutionary time in the history of American journalism.  Dull merchant dailies were swept aside by the newly created penny press that catered to a broad audience.  These new papers became the precursor of the modern American daily and, appropriately, have been the subject of much scholarship.  However, the penny press did not take over the newspaper industry in a single instant and the study of penny papers obscures the fact that more expensive dailies continued to flourish alongside their new rivals.  The study of these mercantile dailies is made difficult by a scarcity of archival sources, but some materials can be found.  This paper relies on a set of materials that has been overlooked, and yet provides a detailed view of how a non-penny paper in New York City operated during the 1830s.  It is based on account ledgers of the New York Evening Star, preserved in the New-York Historical Society, which offer a window into how one six-cent paper emerged on the New York newspaper scene in 1833, how it operated during the following seven years, and what made the paper disappear in 1840.  Overall, this essay seeks to provide a more balanced view of the penny press revolution and greater insight into the financial operations of newspapers in the 19th century.


W. Atkinson, “The Press and the Mormons: Newspaper Coverage of the 1887 Edmunds-Tucker Act”

This paper examines newspaper reporting regarding the 1887 Edmunds-Tucker Act passed by the United States Senate and House.  The law, also known as the Anti- polygamy Act, was directed toward leaders and members of the Mormon Church in Utah.  It was the strongest action taken by the federal government to date, and was designed to eliminate, once and for all, the practice of plural marriage by some members of the church, along with the Mormon hierarchy’s  theocratic control of the Utah Territory.


Newspapers were key players in the public, political, social, and moral discussion of the perceived evils of Mormonism, which actually occurred throughout much of the latter nineteenth century.  They communicated the nature of church members and their practices and lives to the American public at large, increasingly encouraging and supporting strong measures to solve the “Mormon problem.”  This study of late 1880s newspaper coverage of one aspect of the issues associated with Mormonism further enhances our knowledge of mass media practices during the period by providing additional understanding and insight into the attitudes of newspaper writers and editors as expressed through their writing about this major societal concern.


William E. Huntzicker,  “Picturing American Indians: Natives and Images in Newspapers, 1865-1876”

The tension between text and images could hardly appear more stark than the display on a page in Harper’s Weekly in September 1876. Under a dramatic illustration and a small heading “ATTACKED BY INDIANS,” the 566-word article preaches about the “Indian Problem” starting with the first settlement in North America by “fugitives from Old-World persecution” through the recent defeat of the U.S. 7th Cavalry at the Little Bighorn in distant Montana Territory. At first, the article is sympathetic to the people who lived here first, but the illustration recreates the stereotype of a family of settlers attacked by aggressive Indians. Nevertheless, the article concludes that the native inhabitants are doomed to extinction.


Robert Dardenne, “Aunt Phillis, Uncle Tom and the Journalism of Fiction”

Harriett Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin in part for the expected compensation from National Era magazine, but also with the intent to present a truthful, albeit emotional, portrayal of slave life. Mary Eastman and the 30 or so authors responding to Stowe seemed mostly to have wrote to, from their perspectives, set the record straight, to undo the great wrongs resulting from Stowe's incredibly, and to many, surprisingly, popular book. While Uncle Tom's cabin was a literary approach to the slavery issue, the authors responding to it seemed far more interested in defending slavery against what they considered an attack from a woman who used artifice to malign their most peculiar institution. Stowe's book was not only a literary success, but a journalistic one as well. It accomplished what reams of traditional journalism could not -- to get people up in arms about slavery. The publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin and its multitude of detractors fueled the slavery debate around issues of care of slaves, Biblical sanctioning of slavery itself, treatment of laborers in England and Europe, southern and U.S. economics, property rights, women's liberation, human intelligence, and other areas in ways that supplemented and broadened the debates resulting from more traditional journalism.

Menahem Blondheim, “Crossing the Lines: Treason, Dissent, and Benjamin Wood’s Copperhead New York Daily News”

The New York Daily News was established in 1855 as a political medium with a social message. Its politics were Democratic, its social agenda focused on promoting the welfare of the city's and country's laborers. In the 1870's the Daily News emerged as the largest selling newspaper in New York city and ergo, in the United States. For most of the subsequent generation the Daily News retained that distinction, and even under the onslaught of Pulitzer's World and Hearst's Journal, the Daily News held its own, succumbing to its powerful competitors and their new brand of journalism only with the 1900 death of Benjamin Wood, the Daily News's proprietor and editor for 40 years.

Surprisingly, the greatest hit on Gilded Age America's newspaper scene has not achieved comparable popularity with historians of American journalism. Far from it: the leading textbook on American media history does not even mention it. A fascinating 1950 doctoral dissertation on the Daily News and a compelling recent biographical dictionary entry on Wood are the leading works dedicated to a newspaper and an editor that had far more many readers than Bennett and his Herald, Raymond and the Times, or Dana and the Sun. Not a single published book or journal article on Wood and his newspaper is found on the journalism history bookshelf, alongside the multiple biographies of Noah and Greeley, Bryant and Ochs, Pulitzer and Hearst, and multiplying histories of their newspapers.