What was the influence of newspapers during the Civil War era?

“What is to prevent a daily newspaper from being made the greatest organ of social life? Books have had their day – the theaters have had their day – the temple of religion has had its day. A newspaper can be made to take the lead of all these in the great movements of human thought and of human civilization. A newspaper can send more souls to Heaven, and save more souls from Hell, than all the churches or chapels in New York – besides making money at the same time.”

James Gordon Bennett, editor, The New York Herald
Written in 1835

Samuel Bowles, editor-publisher of the Springfield Republican, wrote these words in 1851

The brilliant mission of the newspaper is . . . . to be, the high priest of history, the vitalizer of society, the world’s great informer, the earth’s high censor, the medium of public thought and opinion, and the circulating life blood of the whole human mind. It is the great enemy of tyrants and the right arm of liberty, and is destined, more than any other agency, to melt and mold the jarring and contending nations of the world into . . . one great brotherhood . . . .

Source: quoted in Blue & Gray in Black & White, p. 3, 4

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