What is the mission of these newspapers?

                                                                                                                                                                     Atta Gould               When examining the implications of the differing newspapers, it’s important to understand the objective of the papers. In the 1830s, American newspapers utilized layouts that completely deviate from the layouts we have today. Virginia newspapers, as a whole, focused heavily on politics. The mid to late 1800s was a time of great politic turmoil. Tensions had been brewing between the North and South since the moment the United States gained independence from Britain in 1776. But battles between the two fragments reached a peak during the election of Abraham Lincoln, eventually leading to the Civil War. Common school teachings create the false notion that the war was fought on a battle of ethics. However, while abolitionists certainly existed in both placements of the country, the majority of the country was invested in the degradation of black bodies in some form. This isn’t to state that northern states were as heavily invested in slavery as the South, but more so to acknowledge the lack of alignment with African Americans in the face of slavery. The Civil War was much more dependent on a struggle for federal control and the fight for supposed property rights.[1]The increased construction of roads, canals, and railroads in the early 1800s created a bridge between the North and South. Prior the economies could exist relatively separately, but when transportation and the means of trade widened, so did economic ventures.

A slew of economic, religious, ethical, and social worked to build tensions. These tensions prompted questions surrounding the necessity for slavery, and as the later home of the confederacy, this was prominent in Virginia. One-third of Virginia’s wealth was rooted in slavery. (5). And the pressure to maintain the system of slavery exudes through white newspapers in the state. At the moment, Virginia newspapers were now engulfed in political discussion. This can be seen in the Daily Dispatch, a Richmond-based newspaper that ran from 1850 to 1884.


The newspaper is broken into four pages and six columns per page. In 1856 only two columns mentioned current politics. But instead, these newspapers focused on local affairs such as advertisements for local businesses, local amusement, a “Wanted” or job post section, multiple special notices sections, and an education section. The page also held an auction collum. By 1860 their published newspaper of the same date, October 31st, contained four columns that divulged into political news alone. Simultaneously, newspapers such as the Richmond Whig were focused heavily on pushing a political agenda. An openly pro-slavery newspaper, their December 1st, 1860 publishing held no issue upholding the argument that the existence of slavery was the right of property owners. It also debated the need for secession from the union due to its election of an anti-slavery president. Therefore, when the editor of the Richmond Whig stood opposed to the oncoming secession from the union, the result was his forced resignation.[2] Because even months before the secession, mainstream newspapers across the state were at the very least in acceptance of the secession. Newspapers took on a new purpose. They would act as a battlefield for anti-union and pro-slavery rhetoric. But the support of a system that birthed and raised the brutalization of African Americans was far from the only task of violence on the agenda.

[1] Stewart, James Brewer. “Abolitionist Politics and the Coming of the Civil War.” Project MUSE. Accessed May 10, 2023. https://muse.jhu.edu/book/4402.

[2] Coming of the civil war - JSTOR. Accessed May 10, 2023. https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/2587364.pdf.

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