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.
§ 9. The National Intelligencer (1808); The Globe; The United States Telegraph; The
National Intelligencer (1841); Political Editors.
|The political and journalistic situation made the administration organ one of the characteristic features of the period. Fennos Gazette had served the purpose for Washington and Adams; but the first great example of the type was The National Intelligencer established in October, 1800, by Samuel Harrison Smith, to support the administration of Jefferson and of successive presidents until after Jackson it was thrown into the opposition, and The United States Telegraph, edited by Duff Green, became the official paper. It was replaced at the close of 1830 by a new paper, The Globe, under the editorship of Francis P. Blair, one of the ablest of all ante-bellum political editors, who, with John P. Rives, conducted it until the changing standards and conditions in journalism rendered the administration organ obsolescent. The Globe was displaced in 1841 by another paper called The National Intelligencer, which in turn gave way to The Madisonian. Thomas Ritchie was in 1845 called from his long service on The Richmond Enquirer to found, on the remains of The Globe, the Washington Union, to speak for the Polk administration and to reconcile the factions of democracy. Neither the Union nor its successors, which maintained the semblance of official support until 1860, ever occupied the commanding position held by the Telegraph and The Globe, but for forty years the administration organs had been the leaders when political journalism was dominant. Their influence was shared and increased by such political editors as M. M. Noah 5 and James Watson Webb of the New York Courier and Enquirer, Solomon Southwick of the Albany Register, Edwin Croswell, who edited The Argus and who, supported by Van Buren and others, formed what was known as the Albany Regency. The Regency, the Richmond Junta, which centred in the Enquirer, and the Kitchen Cabinet headed by the editor of The Globe, formed one of the most powerful political and journalistic cabals that the country has ever known. Their decline, in the late thirties, was coincident with great changes, both political and journalistic, and though successors arose, their kind was not again so prominent or influential. The newspaper of national scope was passing away, yielding to the influence of the telegraph and the railroad, which robbed the Washington press of its claim to prestige as the chief source of political news. At the same time politics was losing its predominating importance. The public had many other interests, and by a new spirit and type of journalism was being trained to make greater and more various demands upon the journalistic resources of its papers.