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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/205

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DEVELOPMENT OF THE AMERICAN NEWSPAPER.

days. When they arrived in a city or town they would tell the latest news from the places they had visited, and the next issue of the local paper would contain a story beginning, "The Rev. Mr. Bland, the traveling missionary, relates," etc., or, "Captain Smith, of the schooner, reports having heard," etc. Information received in this way might relate to Indian uprisings, fires, floods, crimes, accidents, or political events; but in every case the published account would be interspersed with opinions of the narrator and the comments of the editor who prepared the story for publication. For news of events happening in the larger cities, the journals of the first half of the century depended almost entirely on reprinting from exchanges. They had no regular correspondents anywhere, and a paper published in New York would reprint from the papers of Boston and Philadelphia such of the news of those cities as impressed the editor as being of more than local interest. During the War of 1812, the subsequent Indian wars, and the conflict with Mexico, news of battles and movements of armies in the field was obtained by the slow process of waiting for official reports to the Government or private letters from officers and men at the front. The Mexican War stimulated the public demand for news, increased, the circulation of newspapers, and did more than any other event up to that time to arouse the editors of the country to the fact that the people wanted early and complete information of what was going on in the world, rather than individual opinions on general problems. While that struggle was in progress the arrival of the weekly mail in a remote village was an event of importance. The inhabitants would gather in large numbers at the post office, and the meager war news contained in the newspapers would be read aloud. The postmaster or some subscriber to a paper would often post a copy of the latest journal in some conspicuous place in the town, and from that simple beginning there was developed the newspaper bulletin board, where the public may obtain brief information of great events before the full report can be put in type.

After the division of the voters of the country into organized political parties, the tariff, banking and currency, the acquisition of additional territory, and States rights developed into great national questions, precipitating prolonged and heated discussion by the statesmen of that period. This condition stimulated the growth of a certain class of newspapers, and brought into prominence many writers of ability. The statesmen and politicians of that time turned to the press as an available and valuable medium through which to disseminate arguments. They sought to con-