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.

§ 17. Growth of Specialized Forms of Journalism; Anti-Slavery; The Liberator.

In a period of wide-spread unrest and change many specialized forms of journalism sprang up—religious, educational, agricultural, and commercial, which there is no space here to discuss. Workingmen were questioning the justice of existing economic systems and raising a new labour problem; the socialistic ideas of Cabet and Fourier were spreading; Unitarianism and Transcendentalism were creating and expressing new spiritual values; temperance, prohibition, and the political status of women were being discussed; abolition was a general irritant and a nightmare to politicians. The subject of controversy most critically related to journalism was abolition. The abolitionist press which began with The Emancipator of 1820, and had its chief representative in William Lloyd Garrison’s Liberator, first issued 1 January, 1831, forced the slavery question upon the newspapers, and there ensued a struggle for the freedom of the press more acute than any since that caused by the Alien and Sedition laws. Many abolitionist papers were excluded from the mails; their circulation was forcibly prevented in the South; in Boston, New York, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Alton, and elsewhere, editors were assaulted, offices were attacked and destroyed; rewards were offered in the South for the capture of Greeley and Garrison; in a few instances editors, like Lovejoy at Alton, lost their lives at the hands of mobs.   27