Archives for posts with tag: Civil War

I am delighted to see the first review of my book, Yankee Reporters and Southern Secrets, came out last week. William E. Huntzicker wrote this for Journalism History:

“Fuhlhage delivers a comprehensive look not only at Northern newspaper coverage, but also at how often articles were reprinted through apparent exchange arrangements with other newspapers….

“He has done an admirable job of looking at evidence, such as the clippings they saved with their papers and their written responses to news coverage. Historians have widely reported on how generals used their public relations skills to court favorable coverage and followed their image in the press, but Fuhlhage has opened new avenues for exploring the use of news. …

“Fuhlhage here presents a disciplined, focused academic approach to the use of news in making military decisions, while noting the legacies relevant to the continuing use of intelligence in the war on terror.”

Find Yankee Reporters and Southern Secrets in a library here: https://www.worldcat.org/title/yankee-reporters-and-southern-secrets-journalism-open-source-intelligence-and-the-coming-of-the-civil-war/oclc/1089275147&referer=brief_results

Or buy it here: https://www.peterlang.com/view/title/66470

While doing research on journalism during the secession winter of 1860 to 1861, it occurred to me that in maintaining a continually updated list of South Carolina legislators’ stances on taking down the Confederate flag, the Post & Courier of Charleston is doing the same thing the Charleston Mercury did on the question of seceding.
Witness the following account, published as an exchange item in the Boston Journal on December 12, 1860:

“THE CHARLESTON ELECTION: There was evidently a screw loose in the election of the Charleston delegates to the State Convention of South Carolina. It was intended by the Rhett faction to be a completely one-sided affair, sending up a united delegation pledged to immediate secession. Accordingly, the Mercury had kept standing lists in its columns of the candidates known to be sound, from their explicit declarations, those who had not pledged themselves to instant secession, and those who had made no reply to interrogatories addressed to them.”

The piece went on to explain that a couple of uncommitted delegates were elected despite pressure from the Mercury. This should be a reminder that the press is powerful, but it is not all-powerful. The ultimate pressure comes from the people. Just as the battle then was not won by the Mercury, so the battle today is not won by the Post & Courier. Make your opinion known. Here’s mine: That flag has got to come down. That banner may be a symbol of heritage, but the deeper I get into the newspapers of the secession crisis, the more evidence piles up that the Civil War was about maintaining a system in which wealthy planters preserved their means of getting richer (cheap labor combined with a voracious appetite to expand the footprint of slavery) by co-opting poor Southern whites’ opinions via appeals to racial superiority. We are all equal regardless of color, creed, religion, ethnicity, national heritage, gender or sexual orientation.
So it’s nice to enjoy the irony of the press of today employing, for the purpose of removing an emblem of pride in racism, the same system that the press of yesteryear employed to put it up.

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