Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/343

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325
Weekly Papers

paralleled. But in the midst of bitter party controversy, independent journalism was growing apace; the editor and the politician were becoming more and more disentangled. The politician kept political power and the editor looked elsewhere for his influence in a variety of interests, social, literary, and commercial. The influential editors throughout the country who were taking the place of the giants of the preceding era were following the precept of Bowles in learning to control what they seemed only to transcribe and narrate. They no longer preached or laid down the law. It was the publishing and depicting of facts, not the invective of editorial attack, that achieved results in the exposure of the Tweed ring by the New York Times and Harper's Weekly in 1871 and of the "Whiskey Ring" by the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. Exploits like these had never been attempted before; though they have never since been equalled in daring or in results obtained, they were progenitors of the sensational press characteristic of a later period.

Independent political thought and discussion were greatly strengthened by the growth of weekly papers which were established or which became prominent just after the war. The Independent, founded as a progressive and liberal religious journal in 1848, had been a powerful anti-slavery force, a leading journal of political, literary, and social, as well as of religious discussion. When Henry Ward Beecher took the editorship in 1861 he said he "would assume the liberty of meddling with every question which agitated the civil or Christian community," and in doing so he wrote, in this weekly newspaper, and in the Christian Union, now the Outlook, of which he became editor in 1870, some of the strongest editorials in the American press. "It is the aim of the Christian Union to gospelize all the industrial functions of life," Beecher wrote. These two are but the most conspicuous of a large class of religious journals, more nearly newspapers than magazines, which had much popularity and influence as organs of general discussion through the years of Reconstruction.

When the New York Times attacked the Tweed ring, its most effective ally was Harper's Weekly, an illustrated paper established in 1857, which partly through its remarkable use of illustrations and its sound editorial policy under George William