Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/339

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321
The Civil War

over the South, placed at every important point, and sent with every army. The Herald quickly built a great news-gathering organization, with the Tribune and the Times following as close competitors, while every important paper in the country sent at least one correspondent to Washington or to the front. These men, nearly all inexperienced in their special duties, but called upon to report a more rapid and long-continued series of military movements than had ever before been recorded, not only accomplished a remarkable series of individual achievements but set a new standard in that type of journalism.

The task of organizing such corps of correspondents as were sent out by the Herald, Tribune, and Times, of New York, of discharging the normal functions of the papers, and of supplying the unprecedented demand for newspapers, extraordinary as it was, did not lead to many important advances in journalistic practice. The changes due to the war were mainly economic. In the South, which had depended almost entirely on the North for its supplies, the lack of paper was soon felt and before peace came had caused the suspension of many papers. Many others were suppressed by Northern military authorities. The press of the South, indeed, lost much and gained little or nothing by the war. A rigid government censorship and news bureau deprived those papers even of such opportunities as other circumstances might have permitted. Less enterprise was manifest in news-gathering than in printing official communications and editorials. But it may be said that, although before the war began there was much difference of Southern editorial opinion regarding the advisability of secession, after the decision was made, a united press supported the Confederate authorities.

Censorship in the North was unorganized, spasmodic, some times oppressive, and generally ineffectual. The Post Office Department then, as more recently, denied the privilege of the mails to papers adjudged to be treasonable, even to some which criticized the use of force against the seceding states. Correspondents were in some cases welcomed and trusted by the military authorities; in others they were excluded. Early in the war a censor was placed in the telegraph office at Washington; but official oversuppression finally brought about a reaction which led to a more liberal policy. The natural desire of the authorities to prevent the circulation of information that might be useful to

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