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Editors Make War: Southern Newspapers in the Secession Crisis [Paperback]

Professor Emeritus Donald E Reynolds Ph.D. M.A. B.A.
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

December 11, 2006 0809327341 978-0809327348 1st
In early 1860 most Southern newspapers promoted Unionist sentiments for peace, but by 1861 they advocated secession and disunion, often calling for bloodshed. Using the editorials published in 196 newspapers during that pivotal year before the outbreak of the Civil War, Donald E. Reynolds shows the evolution of the editors’ viewpoints and explains how editors helped influence the traditionally conservative and nationalistic South to revolt and secede.
Editors Make War is the first complete study of how Southern newspapers influenced the secession crisis in 1860, effectively outlining how editors played on their readers’ racial fears and  distrust of the North. Showing how newspaper coverage can affect its readers, this classic study illuminates such events as the nominating conventions, fires in Texas that were blamed on slaves and abolitionists, state elections in the North, Lincoln’s presidential victory, failed attempts at compromise, the secession of the lower Southern states, the attack at Fort Sumter, and the Federal call for troops in April 1861.

Editorial Reviews


“A gracefully written and interesting account, tracing the evolution of the Southern press from a general mood of Unionism to full-blown support of secession in April, 1861.”—John Y. Simon, editor of The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant

“Polished and judicious . . . wonderfully comprehensive . . . [Reynolds’s] literary craftsmanship is as impressive as his research.”—Indiana Magazine of History

About the Author

Donald E. Reynolds is an emeritus professor of history at Texas A&M University, Commerce. He is the author of Professor Mayo's College: A History of East Texas State University.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press; 1st edition (December 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809327341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809327348
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,269,139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Primary-Source History August 28, 2001
By Andrew
Reynolds, a Texan, simply read what Southern newspapers were writing in the final year or so before the war began. Through thousands of articles in hundreds of papers, Reynolds showed that southern editors talked big about remaining in the union, provided northerners suppressed abolitionism and refrained from electing anyone who favored hindering the expansion of slavery into newly-acquired western territories. Once they realized that the Republican Party came to represent much of northern opinion, southerners felt their slave-based economy and lifestyle was threatened. Led by South Carolina--then a black-majority state--the south seceded rather than risk losing the slave-based society. This book takes the post-war revisionism--that the secession was about tariffs and constitutional abstractions and not slavery--and exposes it all as bunk. As this book shows through the multitude of newspapers and political speeches of the time--southern voices all--the south was obsessed with slavery, to the point of fetishism. Editors thought nothing of threatening the lives of those who disagreed with their hard-line, abolition-hating views. Many called for the lynching of suspected abolitionists, which is exactly what happened repeatedly during the summer of 1860. Reynolds argues at the end that editors contributed to the enthusiasm for disunion in the south. I might argue with that. I believe the editors, most of whom were desperate for a paying readership, simply went with the (white) mood of the times. Like their political representatives, those who were located in areas with many slaves favored secession, and those in areas with few slaves (western Virginia, eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina) were either tepid supporters or outright opponents of secession. Read more ›
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