Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/340

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Newspapers Since 1860

the enemy, and the nervousness caused by the many Copperhead papers opposed to the war, friendly to the South, or unfriendly to the government, led to much official criticism of mere news enterprise and to acts of suppression by the authorities. For instance General McClellan requested the War Department to suppress the New York Times for printing a map of the works and a statement of forces beyond the Potomac, no part of which had, in fact, come from other than public sources. The New York World and Journal of Commerce were suspended for several days because they unsuspectingly published a bogus presidential proclamation. The Chicago Times, a leading Copperhead paper, was forced to suspend publication for a short time because of disloyal utterances. The strong feeling engendered by the conflict led to many acts of mob violence against newspapers, most of them in smaller towns, and in the aggregate, scores of them were as a result suspended or destroyed, though relatively fewer fatalities resulted than from the earlier acts of violence against the abolitionist press. The most important mob attack on a great city paper was directed against the New York Tribune during the draft riots on 13 July, 1863.

It was not mere editorial arrogance or vanity that James Gordon Bennett displayed when at the outbreak of the war he assured President Lincoln of the support of the New York Herald. Lincoln's subsequent offer of the French mission to the erratic journalist vouches for that. For editorial influence was then at its greatest, and the power wielded by the leaders in the great era of personal journalism such men as Greeley, Bennett, Bowles, Raymond, Bryant, Schouler made government by newspapers something more than a phrase. The country was accustomed to a journalistic leadership in which it had faith. Not a few editors felt competent to instruct the government in both political and military affairs, and some undertook to do so, notably Horace Greeley, in the New York Tribune, to the clamour of which paper is attributed the ill-advised aggression which led to the defeat at Bull Run. Of all the editorials written during the war, Greeley's "The Prayer of Twenty Millions," printed in the Tribune on 20 August, 1862, is probably the most significant, not only because it indicates the tone assumed in many papers, but especially because it drew from President Lincoln a reply which defined more clearly than ever before his