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The American Revolution and the Press

The Promise of Independence

Carol Sue Humphrey, with a Foreword by David A. Copeland

Publication Year: 2013

Carol Sue Humphrey’s The American Revolution and the Press argues that newspapers played an important role during America’s struggle for independence by keeping Americans engaged in the war even when the fighting occurred in distant locales. From the moment that the colonials received word of Britain’s new taxes in 1764 until reports of the peace treaty arrived in 1783, the press constituted the major source of information about events and developments in the conflict with the mother country. Both Benjamin Franklin, one of the Revolution’s greatest leaders, and Ambrose Serle, a Loyalist, described the press as an “engine” that should be used to advance the cause. The efforts of Patriot printers to keep readers informed about the war helped ensure ultimate success by boosting morale and rallying Americans to the cause until victory was achieved. As Humphrey illustrates, Revolutionary-era newspapers provided the political and ideological unity that helped Americans secure their independence and create a new nation.

Published by: Northwestern University Press

Series: Medill Visions Of The American Press


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pp. vii-9

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pp. ix-xvi

When discussion turns to America’s move toward independence from Great Britain and the role the press played in the process, quotations from those who were first-hand observers are truly powerful. “What do we mean by the Revolution? The war? That...

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pp. xvii-xxi

Americans love stories about the wars their ancestors fought in. Generally leading the way has been the Civil War, primarily because it involved the entire nation fighting itself and had battles scattered across the country from Maryland and Pennsylvania to...

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One. Introduction

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pp. 3-22

On July 4, 1776, one of the most celebrated events in American history occurred in Philadelphia. On that day, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, explaining why the thirteen colonies had chosen to break away from...

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Two. The Colonial Press

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pp. 23-37

Newspapers were able to play an important role during the American Revolution because they had already become indispensable to many Americans during the colonial era. Many of the earliest settlers had considered printed materials an essential...

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Three. The Conflict Emerges

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pp. 39-58

The American Revolution began as a result of an argument over taxes. Great Britain began passing additional taxes for the American colonies to pay off the war debt that had resulted from the French and Indian War. The war had been a large-scale one that entailed...

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Four. A Time of Quiet

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pp. 59-81

Although the crisis sparked by the Stamp Act was allayed with the act’s repeal in 1766, tensions continued and the adoption of the Townshend Acts only added to the disagreements. The situation remained particularly tense in Boston, where the Stamp Act riots...

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Five. No Hope of a Solution

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pp. 83-103

The Boston Tea Party and its aftermath probably marked the point of no return in the conflict between Great Britain and the American colonies. The British Parliament passed the Coercive Acts to punish the colony of Massachusetts, and particularly the...

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Six. The Split Becomes Permanent [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 105-126

Although the Boston Tea Party and its aftermath was probably the real point of no return in the conflict between Great Britain and her colonies, many people did not see this clearly. But they did see the apparently irreparable division when fighting broke...

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Seven. The War for Independence

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pp. 127-154

Once independence had been declared, Americans focused on winning the war against Great Britain. The newspapers fulfilled an important function, primarily as a fount of information and inspiration. The role of the press as a source of news proved so essential that Congress...

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Eight. Victory Leads to Peace

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pp. 155-177

The American victory at Saratoga in October 1777 convinced many people that an overall American victory was imminent. But that did not prove to be true, because the war dragged on for six more years. During this period, American military efforts did...

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Nine. Conclusion

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pp. 179-203

The fighting in the American Revolution ended in 1781, but it took two more years to negotiate a peace treaty to finally end the conflict. Though the war lasted until 1783, almost everyone in America believed that the victory at Yorktown would be decisive...


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pp. 205-219


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pp. 221-227


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pp. 229-241

E-ISBN-13: 9780810164291
E-ISBN-10: 0810164299
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810126503
Print-ISBN-10: 0810126508

Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 16 b&w
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1
Volume Title: 1
Series Title: Medill Visions Of The American Press
Series Editor Byline: David Abrahamson See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 867739956
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The American Revolution and the Press

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Subject Headings

  • American newspapers -- History -- 18th century.
  • Journalism -- United States -- History -- 18th century.
  • United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783 -- Press coverage -- United States.
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