Welcome to this sample collection which gathers together articles from historically notable documents that appear in this archive, and provides you with links to view the articles on the Gale Primary Sources platform.
For this collection, we have curated sample articles from five historically important and influential publications, with four articles from each. These cover a range of subject areas to illustrate the diversity of the archive, for researchers working on both focused projects and broader multidisciplinary research. Please remember that this guide is a curation of sample content: there is a lot more available in the full archive, far beyond the examples we have selected here. If you would like to explore the content of the archive and see the functionality of the Gale Primary Sources platform, there is a link to start a free trial at the end of this guide, along with links to find your local representative if you have any questions.
The Boston Daily Advertiser was the first daily newspaper in Boston, founded in 1813 and purchased in 1914 by journalist Nathan Hale (1784-1863). Under his editorship, it became an influential newspaper, shifting from Federalist, to Whig, to Republican during its run. The War of 1812 strongly affected newspapers. The question of entry into the war stimulated partisan comment. Newspapers invested in a newly invented power press that could print eight-hundred copies per hour to allow for more frequent and rapid press runs. In his debut editorial for the Boston Daily Advertiser, Hale wrote in 1817: “One of the peculiar traits [of Americans] is the insatiable appetite which exists in all classes of people in this Country for news. It is ... so universal that it has given rise to a salutation ... ‘What’s the news?’ (Adapted from: Jamison, David L.: Newspapers and the Press. Visit our Contextual Essays section for the full version).
On the first of January 1831, the inaugural issue of the Liberator was published in Boston. Edited by William Lloyd Garrison (1805–1879), this four-page newspaper became America’s longest-running radical abolitionist periodical, appearing weekly through the end of December 1865, after a bitter Civil War had definitively ended slavery in the United States. Drawing on the evangelical and revolutionary traditions in early America, Garrison promoted his message in a strident, denunciatory manner, yet he embraced a philosophy of nonviolent resistance, believing that “moral suasion” could effect slavery’s demise. Garrison’s timing was auspicious. Thanks to many factors, primarily an increasingly literate population and cheaper methods of distribution, the mid-nineteenth century witnessed an explosion in periodical reader-ship; when the Liberator commenced, over one thousand daily newspapers were avidly read in America. (Adapted from: Petrulionis, Sandra Harbert. “The Liberator.” American History Through Literature 1820-1870, edited by
Janet Gabler-Hover and Robert Sattelmeyer, vol. 2, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2006).
Thomas Jefferson’s (1743-1826) election to the presidency in 1800 led to the debut of the most important political newspaper of the early 19th century, the National Intelligencer. Jefferson believed that effective citizen participation in government required an informed public, and so in 1801 he invited Samuel Harrison Smith (1772-1845) to come to Washington to launch a national newspaper. Smith’s Intelligencer was originally a four-page triweekly, paid for in part by government subsidy and in part by the advertising it carried on its first and last pages. It reported the “Proceedings of Congress” on page two and miscellaneous Washington news on page three. For the first third of the century the National Intelligencer was virtually the sole source of information about the national government. Across America, newspapers “clipped” items from their exchange copy of the Intelligencer to include in their own columns.
The New York Evening Post was established in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804), one of the Founding Fathers. Federalist in stance, the newspaper became highly respected in the 19th century, even achieving international acclaim under its most notable editor, William Cullen Bryant (1794-1898), a prominent poet and abolitionist. After various changed in editorship and co-ownership, in 1897 the newspaper moved under the management of Oswald Garrison Villard (1872-1949), one of the founding members of both the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the American Civil Liberties Union.
James Gordon Bennett Sr. (1795-1872) began the New York Herald as a penny paper in 1835. He was nonpartisan, delivered news (“facts, on every proper and public subject”) and human interest (“human nature [in] its freaks and vagaries”) in a refreshingly direct way. Bennett delighted in reporting the scandals, misdeeds, and hypocrisies of the upper classes, incurring their anger but building an enthusiastic following among his penny press faithful. He went further than anyone in covering financial news. His regular “Money Market” reports reflected shrewd attention to America’s growing industrialization and developing capital markets. Often Bennett’s news approach was sensationalistic. Bennett was also famous for his hard-hitting editorials, for which he was loathed not only by the upper crust but by his competitors. His son, James Gordon Bennett Jr. (1841-1912) took over the paper in 1866, and would later go on to found the Paris Herald, the French edition of the New York Herald. The Paris Herald later became the International Herald Tribune, which is also available from Gale. (Adapted from Jamison, David L.: Newspapers and the Press. Visit our Contextual Essays section to view the full version).
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