Expressions of nationalistic sentiments in early American newspapers, 1776-1826

Charles Alan Pilant, Marquette University


This dissertation examines American newspapers as vehicles for expressing nationalistic sentiment during the half century after the United States declared independence from Great Britain. For the young republic's populace in this time period, the newspaper was easily the most accessible source of written information. The paucity of formal public and private schooling and the prevalence of the journalistic print medium made the latter the ultimate source for general instruction, as well as for disseminating news and views. Because so many of these newspapers propagated nationalist notions, they constituted, by default, a class in themselves for promoting these or any other ideas. Previous researches concerning the press of this era deal little or not at all with nationalism, are constrained by narrow perimeters of time, region, or locality, or comprise subordinate parts of larger, more general, or different topics. The present exercise is based on the contents of those among the early American newspapers available to the modern researcher. In selecting which publications to use for depicting nationalist expressions regarding events, issues, and personalities, this researcher chooses the following as priorities: (1) newspapers published over the entire five decades studied; (2) newspapers circulated in principal population or geographic areas; and (3) newspapers providing unusual perspectives. While it is impossible to measure with any scientific accuracy the impacts which journalistic manifestations of nationalistic sentiments may have had on the reading public, the number and frequency of such opinions are decidedly demonstrable. That so many newspapers continuously and increasingly aired nationalistic views suggests at least that the generality of the population were exposed to them.

Recommended Citation

Pilant, Charles Alan, "Expressions of nationalistic sentiments in early American newspapers, 1776-1826" (1989). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI8925421.