The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (190721).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.
XXI. Newspapers, 17751860.
§ 6. Partisan Bitterness; Administration Organs; The Gazette of the United States; The National Gazette.
|Partisan bitterness increased during the last decade of the century. New England papers were generally Federalist; in Pennsylvania there was a balance; in the West and South the anti-Federalist press predominated. Though the Federalists were vigorously supported by such able papers as Russells Columbian Centinel in Boston, Thomass Massachusetts Spy, The Connecticut Courant, and, after 1793, Noah Websters daily Minerva (soon renamed Commercial Advertiser) in New York, The Gazette of the United States, which in 1790 followed Congress and the capital to Philadelphia, was at the centre of conflict, a paper of pure Toryism, as Thomas Jefferson said, disseminating the doctrines of monarchy, aristocracy, and the exclusion of the people. To offset the influence of this, Jefferson and Madison induced Philip Freneau, who had been editing The Daily Advertiser in New York, to set up a half weekly, to go through the states and furnish a Whig vehicle of intelligence. Freneaus National Gazette, which first appeared 31 October, 1791, soon became the most outspoken critic of the administration of Adams, Hamilton, and Washington, and an ardent advocate of the French Revolution. Fenno and Freneau, in The Gazette of the United States and The National Gazette, at once came to grips, and the campaign of personal and party abuse in partisan news reports, in virulent editorials, in poems and skits of every kind, was echoed from one end of the country to the other.
| This decade of violence was nevertheless one of development in both the quality and the power of newspapers. News reporting was extended to new fields of local affairs, and the intense rivalry of all too numerous competitors awoke the beginnings of that rush for the earliest reports which was to become the dominant trait in American journalism. The editor evolved into a new type. As a man of literary skill, or a politician, or a lawyer with a gift for polemical writing, he began to supersede the contributors of essays as the strongest writer on the paper. Much of the best writing, and of the rankest scurrility, be it said, was produced by editors born and trained abroad, like Bache of the Aurora, Cobbett, Cooper, Gales, Cheetham, Callender, Lyon, and Holt. Of the whole number of papers in the country towards the end of the decade, more than one hundred and fifty, at least twenty opposed to the administration were conducted by aliens. The power wielded by these anti-administration editors impressed John Adams, who in 1801 wrote: If we had been blessed with common sense, we should not have been overthrown by Philip Freneau, Duane, Callender, Cooper, and Lyon, or their great patron and protector. A group of foreign liars encouraged by a few ambitious native gentlemen have discomfited the education, the talents, the virtues, and the prosperity of the country.