The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

XXI. Newspapers, 1775–1860.

§ 16. The Telegraph.

The telegraph, in 1844 shown to be practical, and put to successful use during the Mexican War, led to numerous far-reaching results in journalism. Telegraphic columns became a leading feature; news associations grew as the wires lengthened; but the greatest effect on the journalism of the country at large was to decentralize the press by rendering the inland papers, in such cities as Chicago, Louisville, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and New Orleans independent of those in Washington and New York. A change made in the postal laws in 1845 favoured the local circulation of newspapers. The country circulation of most of the large Eastern papers was so curtailed that only one or two, like the New York Tribune, were able to maintain through their weekly editions something of their national character; the organs in Washington, even Niles’s Weekly Register, which had been a most useful vehicle for the disseminating of political information, were still further shorn of their usefulness and soon eliminated; and the already vigorous provincial press became numerous and powerful.   26