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Lincoln and the Power of the Press

characters õ PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook ✓ Harold Holzer

Harold Holzer makes a significant contribution to our understanding of Lincolns leadership by showing us how deftly he managed his relations with the press of his day to move public opinion forward to preserve the Union and. Abraham Lincoln has probably been the subject of monographs than any other figure in American history In all the books written about our sixteenth president be it biographies or monographs dealing with different aspects of the Lincoln presidency the issue of his relationship with the press has not been mined thoroughly This gap in Lincoln historiography has been admirably filled by Harold Holzer’s new book LINCOLN AND THE POWER OF THE PRESS Holzer a leading authority on Lincoln and the Civil War serves as Chairman of the Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation and has authored co authored or edited 42 books In his latest effort he has done an excellent job in researching and writing about Lincoln’s relationship to the press how it affected his political career and how he approached the dissemination of information during the Civil War Holzer argues that during the mid nineteenth century through the end of the Civil War newspapers worked hand in glove with politicians A number of newspaper editors held political office at the same time they wrote for or owned newspapers It was very difficult to separate political parties from the opinions of certain newspapers In a sense one’s political affiliation was made public by the newspaper they wrote for In Lincoln’s case he became the owner of a local paper in a small town in Illinois whose express purpose was to be a mouthpiece for the then future president and a means of reaching a particular ethnic group in order to further Republican Party chances in the expanding west According to the author it was difficult at times to separate Lincoln’s role as a journalist and his role as a politician Lincoln’s views on press freedoms and censorship would undergo great changes once he entered the White House and Holzer does a commendable job following Lincoln’s evolution on constitutional issues relating to freedom of the press and other important subjects Holzer’s book is than a discussion of Lincoln and the press What the author has prepared is a wonderful study that devotes a great deal of attention to the major newspapers of the time period and the individuals who made them famous The author does not neglect smaller papers and persons of interest who impacted the time period The book concentrates on three journalists and their newspapers; Horace Greeley and the New York Journal Henry Raymond and the New York Times and James Gordon Bennett and the New York Herald In presenting his material Holzer integrates the lives and events of the period and places them in the context of Lincoln’s views the prevailing political situation and the personal relationships that most impacted American history Aside from biographies of these journalists and their relationship with Lincoln Holzer presents a comparative biography of Lincoln and his most important political foe Stephen A Douglas In this discussion we see the evolution of Lincoln’s constitutional arguments as they relate to slavery and how the foil of “the little giant” allowed Lincoln’s analysis of politics and society to crystallizeAccording to Holzer newspapers were the most powerful weapons political campaigns employed in the 1850s “The mutual interdependence that grew up between the press and politics made for a toxic brew No politician was above it no editor beyond it and no reader immune to it” xiv Springfield Illinois was a perfect example of this toxicity especially with Senator Stephen A Douglas and former congressman Abraham Lincoln in residence in 1859 If one examines Lincoln’s background one would see a politician constantly courting editors in nearby cities and villages In May 1859 he even purchased a German newspaper as a means of courting an ethnic group whose population was rapidly expanding westward and would greatly influence the 1860 presidential election Holzer accurately characterizes the relationship between Lincoln other politicians and journalists as a “sometimes incestuous relationship” as party machines and individual pols sought patronage and other perks from those officeholders with power These perks would consist of high paying appointive jobs in the federal bureaucracy post masterships which allowed further sources of patronage government printing contracts a major source of wealth and revenue for newspapers ambassadorships etc Holzer puts it nicely in his introduction by stating that the book “focuses not just on how newspapers reported on and influenced Lincoln’s ascent but how his own struggle for power and most of his political contemporaries unfolded within a concurrent competition for preeminence among newspapermen to influence politics and politicians” xviAlong the way the reader meets a number of remarkable historical figures Horace Greeley the editor author and politician is foremost among them Holzer parallels the lives of Greeley and Lincoln who experience many similarities in their lives but never were able to develop trust in each other thus negating a close relationship Greeley’s newspaper was against slavery and its expansion Greeley became a thorn in the side of the south and a confederacy that saw him as an abolitionist Greely’s paper became one of the most influential in New York and with weekly editions it had influence nationwide Greeley had his own political ambitions and he did not always support Lincoln’s candidacies At times the somewhat irritating Greeley caused political problems for Lincoln that he always seemed to manipulate to his advantage By 1864 Greeley would oppose Lincoln’s reelection and try to bring about peace with the south In James Gordon Bennett we come across one of the most colorful and egoistic characters in 19th century American history Bennett whose loyalty was not to a political party or ideology but to making money and expanding his own influence Throughout the period Bennett’s paper would flip flop on issues as well as support for certain politicians and parties as long as it met Bennett’s personal goals He despised Greeley and their “newspaper wars” are fascinating At first Bennett supported secession but morphed into a supporter of the union and abolition after making certain “unofficial” arrangements with Lincoln The most respected journalist of the period was Henry Raymond who despite disagreements over policy with the Lincoln administration remained loyal to the Republican Party a party he would assume the chairmanship of before the election of 1864 Raymond is the perfect example of the politician journalist as he also served in Congress following the Civil War representing a district from New York City while editing his newspaperThe book is than a history of Greeley Bennett and Raymond but of a general narrative of journalism before the Civil War dating back to George Washington’s di

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Abolish slavery From his earliest days Lincoln devoured newspapers As he started out in politics he wrote editorials and letters to argue his case He spoke to the public directly through the press He even bought a German lan. This book is for the serious reader Well researched and creatively conceived it traces the influence of the newspaper on young Lincoln and then follows its role in his emergence as a politician as a contender for the presidency and later the complicated relationship between Lincoln and the press during the American Civil War It raises thorny thoughtful issues regarding censorship; when do we hold the First Amendment dearest above all and when may its authority be abrogated for the security and integrity of the UnionMy thanks and gratitude go to Net Galley and Simon and Schuster who gave me a DRC and let me read it freeIt starts a bit slow and I began wondering whether this would be one of those rare books that I skim and then review as opposed to reading every word StillLINCOLN I stayed the course and was rewarded Just be aware that the narrative doesn’t really wake up until about the 30 percent markLincoln had amazingly little formal schooling Though this was common among pioneer families at the time with settlements sparse and young males needed to help with a tremendous amount of hard physical labor but knowing not only that he became US president but that he was an attorney before that I was surprised to learn that most of his reading skills were obtained by reading every single newspaper he could get his hands on no matter how old it was by the time it made its way to Illinois which was then considered the northwestern USA A sister later recounted seeing him turn a chair over and lean against it while he sat on the floor and used the firelight to read by How many people are sufficiently motivated today to teach themselves reading skills through this sort of very difficult total immersionHe later fed his newspaper habit by becoming postmaster and he used this office to read the newspapers being sent by mail before they were delivered to their intended recipients He would later use the franking privilege bestowed upon postmasters to send out his own campaign materials free of chargeNewspapers were tremendously influential approaching the zenith of their importance during this time There was no radio or any other media to spread the news of the nation besides word of mouth Litigation for libel or slander had not yet blossomed and so newspapers were often very loose with the facts and this made it all the important to read as many of them as possible in order to tease apart truth and rumorYoung Lincoln left home hoping to become a journalist himself He was well known as a gregarious fellow who always had a great story ready for whoever wanted to listen I envision his parents throwing their arms up in the air all that work to be done at home and where is their son Off somewhere talking talking talking I also found this tidbit interesting because it contrasts sharply with the haunted and often depressed man he would later become when authority and personal tragedy marked himAs a congressman and also as a freuent writer of freelance articles and letters to editors Lincoln marked out his position against the extension of slavery early and with great passion He called the war with Mexico for what it was a land grab that would primarily benefit the feudal rulers of the south At one point he even suggested that the attack against US citizens by Mexican soldiers was a hoax demanding to know exactly where on the map this had occurred Folks in Washington DC Illinois and even New York sat up and took noticeHolzer also traces the beginnings of the most notable newspaper publishers of the time The unfortunate Elijah Lovejoy is dispatched with haste just as he was in life Greeley the bootstrap newsman and fervent abolitionist at least most of the time at first spurned Lincoln For most of both of their careers they had a strong working relationship but Greeley was both uixotic and a bit unstable and he turned on Lincoln at some pivotal times most noteworthy when the latter was running for re election Bennett founder of the Herald and innovator of a number of the institutional practices that are still in place today was conservative politically and represented Manhattan’s pro secessionist pro slavery majority Raymond was Lincoln’s most steadfast supporter and campaign manager the second time around though he wavered for a brief but terrible time when the tide seemed to turn in favor of the Copperhead Democrats who wanted to give the secessionist states independence in order to end the warIn the land of Dixie there was no debate about Constitutional rights to freedom of speech and the press; newspapers who even hinted at Union sentiments were uickly suppressed without ualm Despite Lincoln’s suspension of Habeas Corpus and at times the suppression andor closure of newspapers that either leant aid to the enemy by publishing battle plans before the fights had taken place or by less overt and therefore controversial antiwar editorials he won his office in a fair fight not attempting to tamper with the electoral process or outlaw the printed word that ran in favor of McClellan a former general whom this reviewer regards as a treasonous scoundrelI confess it gave me a good deal of food for thought I was a child during the 1960’s and a teen during the 1970’s but I recall well the controversy regarding free speech the Vietnam War and Nixon’s enemies list If I am in favor of free speech and press during contemporary times why should it have been different during the Civil War But I eventually concluded that it was indeed different and the exasperation of General Sherman toward the press that gave away critical secrets all in the interest of a scoop and the bottom line was entirely correctBut that’s just one reviewer’s opinion If you are willing to devote the time and attention this tome demands you are sure to come away with a viewpoint of your ownTo those interested in the American Civil War President Abraham Lincoln or the history of the American newspaper highly recommended

characters õ PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook ✓ Harold Holzer

Guage newspaper to appeal to that growing electorate in his state Holzer shows us politicized newspaper editors battling for power and a masterly president using the press to speak directly to the people and shape the nation. This book scratches an itch for me where biography of a particular individual intersects with the larger longer term currents of culture media technology and business Lincoln is only one of the individuals shaped by and impacting the world described by this work but he exhibits his seminal combination of sagacity and pragmatism as these trends evolve

  • Hardcover
  • 768
  • Lincoln and the Power of the Press
  • Harold Holzer
  • en
  • 09 January 2019
  • 9781439192719