Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/344

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Newspapers Since 1860

Curtis[1] had become popular and influential. The illustrations and cartoons of Thomas Nast in this paper were one of the striking features of the journalism of the war, and in the years following became a national force—the artist was declared by General Grant to be the foremost figure in civil life developed by the war. His power as a cartoonist was still growing when in 1870 the Times began its great exposure, and Nast, who in Harper's Weekly had already begun the fight, collaborated with a series of cartoons which still rank with the greatest, both in conception and in effect, ever published. At the same time Curtis, who became political editor in 1863 and editor three years later, made the paper a telling force in independent journalism, notably during the following decade in advocating civil service reform and similar movements for the cleansing of politics.

A more potent force in the movement towards independence was another weekly, the Nation, established under the editorship of Edwin Lawrence Godkin in 1865, which in the course of a few years set a new standard of free and intelligent criticism of public affairs. Godkin had begun serious work in journalism when in 1853, at the age of twenty-two, he had gone to the Crimea for the London Daily News. He had come to the United States in 1856, had become a keen student of American life, politics, and journalism, and during the war had done the country great service by telling Englishmen, through the Daily News, the truth concerning American conditions. He felt that the American press did not fairly represent the thought and opinions of educated men. He wanted to "see whether the best writers in America cannot get a fair hearing from the American public on questions of politics, art, and literature through a newspaper." Within a year after the Nation was established a discerning observer said that "it will do much to raise the reputation of American journalism in Europe and by its example to raise the tone of our other newspapers," and twenty years later an eminent English editor called it the best periodical in the world. It has been said that all the problems of democracy had a fascination for Godkin, and into the discussion of them he flung himself with enthusiasm and vigour equalled only by his breadth and keenness of understanding

  1. See Book III, Chap. XIII.