I wrote earlier of the slaveocrats’ role in bringing about the war; it’s fascinating yet horrific to watch how they lured moderates into their scheme, but after this article it’s slightly easier to see how they did it. Newspapers at the time were not held to much in the way of journalistic standards, and the boom in printing meant any idiot who could afford a press could disseminate his views. Sadly, the general public then was probably as unquestioning as the average consumer today.
In pre-Civil War America, the dominant newspapers were based in New York: James Gordon Bennett’s Herald, Horace Greeley’s Tribune and Henry J. Raymond’s Times. However, as Brayton Harris points out in “Newspapers in the Civil War,” the invention and expanded use of the telegraph and a soaring literacy rate in the U.S. led to a quadrupling of active newspapers across the country between 1825 and 1860.
In Delaware, as the Civil War loomed, erupted and progressed, those seeking control of the political process allied with likeminded newspaper editors to expand and encourage their constituencies. These journals heralded partisan viewpoints on behalf of their political patrons.