The Southern Literary Messenger enjoyed an impressive thirty-year run and was in its time the South's most important literary periodical. Avowedly a southern publication, the Southern Literary Messenger was also the one literary periodical published that was widely circulated and respected among a northern readership. Throughout much of its run, the journal avoided sectarian political and religious debates, but, the sectional crisis of the 1850s gave the contents of the magazine an increasingly partisan flavor. By 1860 the magazine's tone had shifted to a defiantly proslavery and pro-South stance. Scholars and students of history, journalism, and literature can discern much about how the hot-button topics of slavery and secession were presented in southern intellectual and literary culture in the early stages of the Civil War.