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A BRITISH VENTURE INTO NORTH AMERICAN JOURNALISM: THE ANGLO-SAXON, 1855-57 l James J. Barnes Patience P. Barnes During the nineteenth century, few publications infuriated British diplomats serving in the United States and Canada more than American newspapers, principallybecause they were so anti-British. Canadian authorities discouraged theimportation of American newspapers and magazines into the Provinces, but failed.Neither were they any more successful in promoting British publications overpotentially seditious American ones. Ironically, political squabbling among Americanpapers occasionally resulted in unintended support for British policy, as whenthe Young Americans, a faction of the Democratic Party, predicted a clash withBritain over Central America or Cuba or even Canada, thereby manoeuveringthe Whigs to oppose any rupture with Her Majesty's Government. As British Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the United Statesin I852, John F.T. Crampton was especially frustrated by this constant misrepresentationof Britain by American publications. Since his first assignment toWashington in 1846 as Secretary of the Legation, and afterwards as Charge d'Affaires,he had resented misleading American journalism, and so when John SherrenBaitlett, a British subject long resident in the United States, approached himwith a proposition which would address the problem, he listened eagerly. 1 Born in Dorset in 1790, Bartlett had studied to become a doctor and served duringthe War of I 8I 2 on a British ship which was captured by the Americans. Hewas imprisoned in Boston, and after being released made his way up to Halifax.In spite of these circumstances, New England made a positive impression 198 James J. Barnes, Patience P. Barnes on him, and he returned to Boston and eventually man-ied and settled there. Why he stopped practicing medicine and turned to publishing is unclear. However,the success of the Albion, a weekly literary miscellany which ran for twenty-five years, attests to the fact that he found his new career congenial. Issued in New York, the Albion relied mainly on reprinting articles from the British press and appealed to a small but enthusiastic audience of Her Majesty's subjects living abroad. Ex-patriots enjoyed its news and gossip from home, and Canadians appreciated its reasonable price, which was less than that of mostofthe periodicals imported from Great Britain. Although Bartlett sold the Albion in 1848, his interest in publishing a weekly was rekindled in 1855 by a desireto defuse the anger growing between British North America and the United States over several political issues. Prominent among these was military recruitment for the Crimean War The British were openly encouraging foreigners in America to enlist in Her Majesty's service, making it known that there were depots in Nova Scotia and Lower Canada where good pay, uniforms, food and lodging were available for volunteers . Americans, on the other hand, regarded such encouragement as a violation of the Neutrality Laws and were therefore threatening to expel several British diplomats, including John Crampton. The eruption of any sort of Anglo-American controversy tended to raise the fear that it might become the pretext foran American invasion of Canada. Memories of 1812 lingered on both sides, anda further complication was the belief held by many Americans that Canadians would not oppose an incursion because they were either French and ipso facto anti-British, or they were democrats and therefore committed to abolishing allthe vestiges of monarchical rule. Seeing an opportunity to influence this debate, John S. Bartlett wrote to Crampton on 19October 1855, and explained his wish to re-establish a newspaper sympathetic to British interests, one whose chief appeal would be in the United States but would also find readership in the British North American colonies Included was a request for financial support from the British Government. 2 At no period during my long residence in this Country do r recollect the pre~~\O generally unfriendly to Great Britain as at present. Scarcely a paper speaks for us but the Albion, and that from its high price is limited in circulation. The American cheap "Weeklies" have immense circulation in the British North American Colonies; the poison they diffuse should have an antidote by issuing a large weekly paper in Boston at $2 per annum, filled with British intelligence and other matter that...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 197-208
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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