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.
§ 8. Spread of Newspapers.
|The number and geographical distribution of newspapers grew apace. Whereas in 1800 there were between 150 and 200 all told, by 1810 there were 366, and during the next two decades the increase was at least equally rapid. With astonishing promptness the press followed the sparse population as it trickled westward and down the Ohio or penetrated the more northerly forests. By 1835 papers had spread to the Mississippi River and beyond, from Texas to St. Louis, throughout Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and into Wisconsin. These pioneer papers, poorly written, poorly printed, and partisan often beyond all reason, served a greater than a merely local purpose in sending weekly to the seat of government their hundreds of messages of good and evil report, of politics and trade, of weather and crops, that helped immeasurably to bind the farflung population into a nation. Every congressman wrote regularly to his own local paper; other correspondents were called upon for like service, and in some instances the country editors established extensive and reliable lines of intelligence; but most of them depended on the bundle of exchanges from Washington, Philadelphia, and New York, and reciprocally the city papers made good use of their country exchanges.
| Meanwhile the daily newspapers were increasing in number. The first had appeared in Philadelphia and New York in 1784 and 1785; in 1796 one appeared in Boston. By 1810 there were twenty-seven in the countryone in the city of Washington, five in Maryland, seven in New York, nine in Pennsylvania, three in South Carolina, and two in Louisiana. As early as 1835 the Detroit Free Press began its long career.