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James A. Edstrom Historical Research and Narrative

Illinois Territory in 1814 was home to an assortment of transplanted Southerners, descendants of French voyageurs, Indians, ambitious politicians, land speculators, and black slaves—surely a population more at home with news transmitted by word of mouth than in print. Yet newspapers came relatively early to Illinois. When the Illinois Herald appeared in Kaskaskia in 1814, it faced daunting conditions and an uncertain future. Like other newspapers of the early-nineteenth century, the Herald was forced to contend with a genuine scarcity of news that, as historian Menahem Blondheim has written, reflected "a combination of the absolute dearth of events and occurrences, and the effects of prevailing conventions and standards of assigning news value to events." That Illinois Territory's population amounted to only 12,282 in 1810 meant a minimum of human interaction and consequently a lesser degree of change.

To a great extent, the market for news in frontier Illinois was already glutted. Newspapers in Vincennes to the east (the Indiana Gazette, founded in 1804) and St. Louis to the west (the Missouri Gazette, founded in 1808) were well-equipped to satisfy readers' curiosity about national and international events. Then, too, the means for transporting news and newspapers in the territory were primitive at best. Mail routes connecting Cahokia, Shawneetown, Kaskaskia, and Vienna existed by 1814, but mail delivery was frequently delayed by bad weather that rendered Illinois roads impassable during wet seasons.

Additionally, there were serious logistical roadblocks to producing a single newspaper issue in the first place. Raw materials had to be transported from elsewhere, a risky venture even in the best of circumstances. Such freight reached its destination in one of two ways. If hauled overland, it was at the mercy of bad roads and the weather. If it was transported down the Ohio River on flatboats and poled up the Mississippi, its passage depended upon whether the rivers were too high or low for easy navigation; the formation of ice in the winter easily impeded the movement of watercraft.

Nevertheless, when Matthew Duncan began publishing the Illinois Herald, he was motivated by several factors. For example, there was the reality that the first newspaper was likely to have at least a temporary monopoly on the publication of laws and legal announcements. In 1810, the territorial legislature had passed a law authorizing the publication of legal advertisements in newspapers in the Louisiana Territory, with "the same force and effect, as if inserted in a newspaper published in this territory. This act... shall continue in force until a newspaper is established and published in this Territory and no longer." Thus Matthew Duncan had a clear incentive for founding the Herald, probably strengthened by gaining a contract to print the territorial laws in 1813, largely through the influence of his friend Governor Ninian Edwards.

Political considerations continued to support the Illinois Herald during its first decade. In 1816 Duncan sold the paper to Robert Blackwell and Daniel Pope Cook. Absent for much of 1817, Cook returned to Kaskaskia in late November of that year to begin building a political career. Through the


columns of his newspaper (by then known as the Western Intelligencer), Cook immediately began an ultimately successful campaign bent on gaining statehood for Illinois Territory that served as his springboard to a career in Congress and the United States Senate. All told, Illinois witnessed the rise of six newspaper titles in the years 1814 to 1819, with three in Kaskaskia, two in Shawneetown, and one in Edwardsville in Madison County, which in 1820 had the largest population of any county in Illinois. During the following decade, the number of newspapers in the state more than doubled. This came about, in part, because of a significant population increase by 1830, but it was also influenced by some significant legal and political developments.

The Edwardsville Advocate, edited by Hooper Warren, was yet another example of a publication controlled by a politician to advance his own agenda in the early statehood period. In all likelihood published by Ninian Edwards, the Advocate fought efforts in 1823-24 to call a new constitutional convention that had the potential for converting Illinois into a slave state. Edwards's rival, Elias Kent Kane, established the Kaskaskia Advocate in opposition. The two newspapers exerted an extraordinary amount of influence over the terms of this debate, which ultimately resulted in Illinois voters rejecting the proposed convention.

Those early newspapers contained little material beyond political developments and almost no "human interest" news. Editors relied heavily on newspaper exchanges with other journalists elsewhere in Illinois, in Kentucky and Indiana, and on the Eastern seaboard for news material to fill their own columns; in other words, they borrowed extravagantly from one another. This lack of material rendered many newspapers relatively short-lived, especially when considered in the context of most journals' highly political nature and the financial and logistical difficulties of publishing on the frontier.

The 1820s also saw the emergence of newspapers in other newly developing areas of the state. The first title in northern Illinois, the Galena Miners' Journal, appeared in 1828 as Galena was becoming significant for its proximity to the growing water traffic on the Mississippi River; more important, it was in the heart of Illinois' lead-mining region and was quickly becoming a major distributing port for all of the Old Northwest. At about the same time, Sangamon County saw its first newspaper, the Springfield Sangamo Spectator, again edited by Hooper Warren. Nonexistent in 1820, by the time of the 1830 census Sangamon County had the largest population in the state.

The locations of newspapers during the 1820s depended largely upon three major factors. One was the size of the local population. Galena and Springfield fall into this category due to their economic and population growth. The second factor was the presence of political power. The relocation of the state capital at Vandalia in 1819 was a strong incentive for the removal of the Intelligencer (by now under the ownership of Illinois's antislavery governor, Edward Coles) from Kaskaskia to Vandalia in 1820. To a lesser extent, Edwardsville provided a similar environment of political power in which newspapers could flourish. The third factor involved easy access to transportation. Located along waterways, Kaskaskia, Galena, and Shawneetown fell into this category. Such proximity gained new importance in 1826, when the first paper mill in neighboring Indiana was erected in Jefferson County, in the southeastern part of the state near the Ohio River. The significance of more ready access to a source of


such a vital commodity for newspaper publishers can hardly be overstated.

A total of ninety-eight newspaper titles were published during the 1830s—a nearly sevenfold increase from the previous decade. The number of towns represented by these newspapers increased from six to thirty-four; simultaneously, the state's population tripled. There was a wider scattering of newspapers, reflecting changes in transportation as well as in population; there was also an increase in towns connected by mail routes. A number of towns on the Illinois River had their first newspapers, including Ottawa, Lacon, and Peoria, due in part to a rapid population growth in the area sparked by the construction of the Illinois-Michigan Canal during the latter 1830s.

Newspapers also arose in Rock Island, Quincy, and Alton on the Mississippi River. Quincy was one of the fastest-growing areas of the state because of its favorable location and convenient landing site, and its Illinois Bounty Land Register, like the Illinois Herald twenty years before, began publication in part because of the opportunity to gain contracts for public printing. Its original purpose was to publish lists of federal public lands between the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. Alton was strategically located at the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers and near to St. Louis. There Elijah P. Lovejoy was killed in 1837 because of his antislavery editorials in the Alton Observer.

The 1830s also witnessed the publication of the first newspapers in eastern and east central Illinois—in Bloomington, Danville, and Paris. These areas had been more slowly settled than the rest of the state, due largely to a lack of significant waterways and sheltering groves of timber. Most important, however, was the publication in 1833 of the first newspaper in Chicago, John Calhoun's Chicago Democrat. A distant ancestor of today's Chicago Tribune, it was published on a hand press, one sheet at a time. By 1839, the Windy City saw the publication of five newspaper titles, including the first daily in Illinois, the Chicago Daily American.

Population and the number of newspapers in the state both continued to increase in the following decade. In 1840 the population of Illinois amounted to just over 476,000; within ten years, it had nearly doubled. Morgan and Sangamon counties were the most populous in 1840, followed by Adams County on the Mississippi River. The center of population was clearly shifting to the north. Increases in population and improvements in transportation meant opportunities for greater human interaction. More interaction meant more change, and more change meant more news and a greater potential for its communication.

Newspaper distribution was beginning to reflect these realities in the 1840s, when 278 newspapers from 74 towns appeared. Lines of "newspaper traffic" that paralleled the state's transportation network are evident on a map of Illinois during this decade, especially along rivers and in the northern counties where the first railroads were being built. In particular, Chicago's regional importance is evident in the cluster of towns with newspapers appearing between Chicago and Galena; indeed, for the first time Chicago had the largest number of newspaper titles of any town in Illinois, which is still the case today. Other towns with sizable numbers of newspapers were Springfield (partly due to its new status as state capital), Jacksonville, Quincy, Galena, and Belleville.

In the first three decades of statehood, the newspapers of Illinois had been uniformly published in English. With the increase in non-English-speaking immigrants that began in the 1830s, it was only a matter of time before they would begin to express themselves in their own newspapers

and in their own native tongues. The first non-English newspaper was a German title, Der Freiheitsbote fur Illinois, which was published in Belleville by Gustave Koerner (later lieutenant governor of Illinois) during the election campaign of 1840. Its publication provided evidence of a growing political awareness


of immigrants in general. Not only did the Freiheitsbote support the Democratic ticket and the re-election of President Martin Van Buren, but it also attacked the anti-immigrant Nativist movement. Three other German titles were published during the 1840s, with two in Belleville and one in Springfield.

There were at least three important technological developments affecting newspapers in Illinois during this decade. One was the mechanization of printing. During the earliest years of newspaper publishing in the state, typesetting had been done entirely by hand. Prompt and timely delivery of the news depended upon the availability of labor and supplies, and quite frequently newspaper copy was obliged to wait while type was being used for other jobs. As a result, "Long John" Wentworth's installation of a power press for the Chicago Democrat in 1843 was an important step in reducing the amount of time required for actual printing. Within twenty years such machinery had largely replaced hand presses, at least in Chicago. The second development was railroad construction in the state, allowing the wider distribution of individual newspapers. Third and most significant was the introduction of the telegraph, allowing the communication of news at great distances and making possible a greater uniformity in reporting, especially through the use of wire services such as the Associated Press, which was founded toward the end of the 1840s.

The telegraph, in other words, made news stories that were uniform in content and quality widely available in a timely manner. This had at least two important effects during the 1850s. For the first time in the state's history, it became possible for nearly every county to have at least one newspaper; a total of 605 titles throughout the state served a population of 851,470 in 149 towns during the decade. The physical and psychological distances between people were substantially reduced. The telegraph increased the speed of news and made its continuous transmission possible, which in turn allowed developing news stories to be broken down into smaller, more frequent segments. In this way newspapers were able to introduce an element of drama into reporting, enhancing the air of suspense as to the final outcome of a story and enticing readers to purchase subsequent issues, or, indeed, to subscribe. As early as 1850, six telegraph lines crisscrossed Illinois and connected such towns as Chicago, Galena, Chillicothe, Peoria, Jacksonville, Rushville, Carrollton, Carlisle, Salem, and Olney.

The accelerating development of the railroad in Illinois during the 1850s was decisive in sparking newspaper growth throughout the state, especially in the east central region that had been one of the last areas of settlement. Whereas in the 1840s there were no towns with newspapers between Joliet in Will County and Charleston in Coles County, during the following decade newspapers sprang up in Kankakee, Watseka, Gibson City, and Champaign-Urbana. A map of Illinois newspapers in the 1850s clearly demonstrates that their development follows the paths of both the new railroads and the telegraph lines.

The 1850s likewise saw an increase in the number and variety of ethnic newspapers that paralleled the growing importance of immigrant groups in Illinois. German newspapers were again predominant, serving towns with substantial German populations such as Belleville, Freeport, and Cairo. Illinois had been originally settled by French pioneers in the seventeenth century, but it was not until the 1850s that the first newspaper titles in that language appeared in Chicago and Kankakee. There was also a sizable community of French immigrants in


Nauvoo that had purchased the abandoned properties of the Mormons. Those "Icarians," members of a communal movement following the teachings of M. Etienne Cabet, published a French-language newspaper that was known by 1856 as Nouvelle revue Icarienne. The growing Swedish communities in Chicago and Galesburg received news in their native tongue in Hemlandet det gamla och det nya and Frihetswannen, respectively. There was even a newspaper (in English) for the Irish citizens of Chicago— The Western Tablet.

Beginning in the 1860s the average frequency of Illinois newspapers—that is, how often a newspaper was published (daily, weekly, semiweekly, etc.)—steadily increased. Much of this continued to result from the coming of the telegraph and the railroad and the increase in volume of available news, but a good part stemmed from technological changes in the printing industry. Perhaps the most important development involved the type of paper used for newsprint. For centuries, paper had been manufactured primarily from cloth fibers— what is known today as "rag-content" paper. It was both sturdy and expensive. Such newsprint at the beginning of the 1860s cost as much as twenty-five cents per pound. It was during this period that paper made from wood-pulp made its first commercial appearance. The first documented use of such paper in a newspaper was in the Boston Weekly Journal of January 14,1863; by 1867, it was mass-produced by machine. Because wood-pulp paper sold for about eight cents a pound, it easily replaced rag-content paper as the industry standard, despite some initial reluctance on the part of newspaper publishers. They considered wood-pulp paper to be shoddy and of inferior quality, but upon discovering its good printing qualities and lower cost, they quickly overcame their prejudices. As a result, newspapers were able to appear more frequently. Increasing the number of issues meant multiplying the amount of news and thus the quantity of information. A publisher who could do so and maintain his subscriber base had the potential for greater profitability.

During the 1860s ethnic newspapers were firmly established as an alternative voice for Illinois' immigrant population. There were twenty-six German-language titles throughout the state, most of them in Chicago and Belleville, with the rest in Carlyle (Clinton County), Highland (Madison County), Effingham, La Salle, Ottawa, Bloomington, Mascoutah (St. Clair County), Springfield, and Freeport. There were three Swedish newspapers serving Chicago, Rockford, and Galva (Henry County). Rockford also boasted the first Norwegian newspaper, Skandinaven, which began in 1866. Finally, a developing Italian community in Chicago was served briefly by a newspaper that began in 1867 as L'Unione italiana and later became ll messaggiere italiano dell'ouest.

Illinois in 1870 was a vastly different place from what it had been in 1814. At that earlier date, Illinois Territory had been populated by just over twelve thousand souls scattered sparingly over frontier settlements largely concentrated in the south and south-west. By 1870 the Prairie State boasted more than 2.5 million residents liberally distributed throughout 102 counties, with particular


concentrations of population to the northwest. About a fifth of the population was immigrants from other lands. From a patchwork of humble pioneer villages had arisen such towns and cities as Springfield, Champaign-Urbana, Alton, Quincy, Nauvoo, Rockford, Galena, and Chicago. The agriculture that had sustained Illinois in its infancy existed side by side with important industries such as meatpacking, metal foundries, and publishing. These enterprises were supported by an extensive network of roads, canals, rivers, railroads, and telegraph lines that replaced the crude trails and dirt roads of the early statehood period.

The development of newspapers in Illinois during the frontier period mirrored those changes. Whereas in the period 1814 to 1819 there had been a mere six titles, all concentrated in the southwestern part of the state, during the decade of the 1860s there were 724 newspaper titles published in every region of Illinois—an increase of 12,000%. Waxing and prospering with the growth and development of Illinois, newspapers shared in the fortunes and maturation that were the lot of a young state possessing abundant resources, a wide-ranging transportation network, and a dynamic, diverse population.

Matthew K. McClure

Activity 1


Main Ideas

Between 1814 and 1870 Illinois was transformed from a backward frontier territory to a state increasingly interconnected through a lattice of communication and transportation lines. During that same time, the state's population grew dramatically from 12,282 in 1810 to 2,539,891 in 1870. This growth was mirrored by the Illinois newspaper industry, which responded not only to the growth of the state's population, but also to its migration northward—especially in and near Chicago. Transportation communication also began to tie the state together and vied with newspapers for the dissemination of information. The following activity is designed to assist students in understanding the evolution of Illinois newspaper history in the frontier period.

Connection with the Curriculum

Illinois geography is only touched upon at the secondary level, and this is an opportunity to link geography with state history meaningfully.

Teaching Level

Grades 7-12

Materials for Each Student

• Newspapers maps for 1820-29; 1830-39; 1840-49; and 1850-59

Objectives for Each Student

• Students learn to read and use thematic maps and draw inferences from spatial information.



Make multiple "safe" copies of the maps.

Opening the Lesson

Have students examine the 1820-29 map. What factors including historical events influenced the following locations of pioneer newspapers?

Vandalia, Kaskaskia, Springfield, Edwardsville, Galena, Old Shawneetown

Developing the Lesson

Students will draw in the Mississippi River, Ohio River, Lake Michigan, and National Road.

Concluding the Lesson
• Given those links, where might one expect to find the earliest towns and newspapers? What geographical features, transportation routes, and federal and state internal improvements influenced the location of the earliest towns and papers? Use classroom maps and/or atlases.
• Compare with the actual locations found on the 1820-29 map. Discuss which locations actually appeared as predicted. Which did not? Why might that be?

Extending the Lesson
• Have students examine the 1830-39 map.
• Where do most of the new newspapers appear? A key internal improvement was created in the 1830-39 decade: the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Toward what city does much of central Illinois appear increasingly focused?
• Have students examine the 1850-59 map and a current railway map of Illinois, such as in Illinois Atlas and Gazeteer (Freeport, Maine: DeLorme Mapping, 1991) or similar atlas class set. Have students trace the route of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, Gateway Western (nee-Gulf, Mobile & Ohio, nee-Alton Route, Chicago and North Western [west line], and Burlington Northern [nee-Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy]) routes. By the 1850s what city is clearly the transportation center of the spokes? What role did railways and railway traffic likely have on newspapers?

Assessing the Lesson

This could be done both qualitatively in accuracy of responses and through depth of inferences made in either written and/or verbal contributions.





Activity 2


Main Ideas

Local, county, and state government has often influenced history in Illinois. Illinois has had its share of both political brilliance and buffoonery.

Connection with the Curriculum

The activities could be used to teach Illinois history, U. S. history, and government.

Teaching Level

Grades 11-12

Materials for Each Student

Sheet for time line

Objectives for Each Student

Students often have difficulty in tying together local, state, and/or regional events to larger national events and issues. A time line provides a visual and meaningful link between these concepts. Use of scale, understanding chronology, and developing relationships between seemingly unrelated ideas are emphasized.


Opening the Lesson

Note how newspapers have long declared their political purposes and agendas through their titles. For example, William Lloyd Garrison's Liberator is immediately reflective of its abolitionist origin and readership.

Developing the Lesson

Create an 1820-1860 time line. Record newspaper names as they appeared chronological and thematically are along the top and keystate/national/local events are placed along the bottom. See example above.

Extending the Lesson
• Give students the Illinois newspaper names and have the students research the motivation behind the key national events and research connecting local and/or state events. For example:
• States' rights vs. supremacy of the federal government
• Whig Party, nullification crisis, Democratic Party, Dred Scott decision
• Important societal movements
• Second Great Awakening, temperance movement, abolitionism, Underground Railroad
• Have students examine the evolution of names from the 1830s to the 1860s. Discuss what is the greatest influence on newspaper names in Illinois during this time period.

Assessing the Lesson

Assess the accurate use of chronological order for all events, a consistent and appropriate scale on the time line, and that all events and dates are clearly recorded.


Significant Illinois newspapers in twenty-year increments.


Alton Telegraph
[Belleville] Illinoi's Beobachter (German)
[Belleville] Belleviller Zeitung (German)
Der [Belleville] Freiheitshote fur Illinois (German)
Mississippi & Illinois Temperance Herald
Log Cabin Advocate
Free Soil Banner
Sober Second Thought
[Chicago] Commercial Advertiser
Chicago Express
Chicago Republican
[Nauvoo] Neighbor
[Springfield] Illinoi's Adier und
Demokratischer Whig (German) [Warsaw] Signal


Cairo Journal (German)
Champion of Freedom
Aurora Beacon
Rockford Crusader
Radical Republican
The Fremonter
Rail Splitter
Die Carlyle Zeitung (German)
Carlinville Democrat
Chester Picket Guard
Christian Era
[Chicago] L'Unione italiana (Italian)
[Chicago and Kankakee] LeJournal de' I Illinois (French)
[Chicago] Frihetswannen (Swedish)
Our Flag
The American Banner
[Rockford] Sandebudet (Swedish)
Age of Steam


Activity 3


Main Ideas

Illinois had a strong abolitionist movement, and it also had a sizable pro-slavery populace. Following Illinois' admission to the Union as a free state in 1818, considerable discussion occurred concerning amending the state constitution to include slavery.

Connection with the Curriculum

The activities can be used to teach Illinois history and U.S. history.

Teaching Level

Grades 7-12

Materials for Each Student

One copy of the Illinois Gazette editorial, June 14, 1823

Objectives for Each Student

Each student is to analyze and evaluate an editorial for its relationship to history and events.


Opening the Lesson

Students need exposure to and practice with primary source readings rather than edited or compiled copies, which sometimes alter the author's meaning and original intent. Model an editorial using a current one found in a local paper. This could be especially interesting to introduce and discuss if the editorial is on a student-oriented topic such as the recent change in Illinois driver's licenses for those under the age of eighteen.

Developing the Lesson
• Have students research the provisions of the Missouri Compromise, also known as the Compromise of 1820. How would the proposal of the Illinois Gazette have challenged this attempt at peace between slave-holding and free states?
• Discuss why the Illinois Gazette would be willing to propose "limited slavery" in lieu of unrestricted or absolute slavery.
• Have students bring in an editorial on a current issue that has been widely discussed and debated in various media. Students might respond in either discussion or in writing to the question: How might one's concept of news and truth be altered if the only source of news were a politically motivated newspaper such as the Illinois Gazette or its opposition, the Edwardsville Advocate?

Extending the Lesson

Have students develop a newspaper front page reflecting the newspaper's political agenda. Include the following in this paper:

• Major news story
• Editorial cartoon
• "News of the day" features specific to the time period

Students could share their newspaper in class; they provide an understanding for both sides of an emotional and political issue such as slavery.

Assessing the Lesson

Assess any editorial bias and rationale for or against slavery in Illinois.


Illinoi's Gazette editorial from June 14, 1823:

The People in this part of the state ... in common with others in all parts of the state, desire an amendment of the constitution wherein it has been found defective, and many ... are in favor of the introduction of slavery, either absolute, as it exists at present in the slave-holding states, or in a limited degree — that is to say, to exist until the children born after its admission shall arrive at a certain age, to be fixed by the constitution.


Activity 4


Main Ideas

The Chicago Press and Tribune and the Chicago Times printed all seven of the presidential debates between Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln held between August 21 and October 15, 1858—a first in American political coverage by newspapers. Each man often referred by memory to the words of the other, usually with widely varying degrees of accuracy. The complete transcripts of these two papers allowed the attendees and general public alike to judge for themselves the authenticity of each man's references to the words of the other. The Lincoln-Douglas debates have almost a mythical lore within Illinois. However, the actual content of the speeches needs to be examined first-hand by students to understand how the two men differed.

Connection with the Curriculum

The activities can be used to teach Illinois and U.S. history and U.S. government.

Teaching Level

Grades 9-12

Materials for Each Student

Activity sheet containing both Lincoln's actual words and Douglas' references to them.

Objectives for Each Student

Students are to evaluate the two primary sources and the accuracy of newspapers reporting political speeches.


Opening the Lesson

• Distribute Activity Sheet 4

Developing the Lesson

• Have students read silently or aloud only the portion of the opening speech given by Stephen A. Douglas on October 15, 1858. Have the class note what major points Douglas made about Lincoln's philosophy on slavery and the future of the Union. Are the points notably different than Lincoln's actual words or intention?

• Have the students take that speech and Lincoln's actual words home and work on the following questions for the next day's discussion:

1. Engage the class in a discussion of how a newspaper reporter or John Q. Public, who heard and knew only of Douglas's response, might have had an entirely different idea of Lincoln's words and how this might influence his reader's understanding and perhaps voting tendencies.

2. Have students write an article summarizing Lincoln's opinion found in his speech from a specific viewpoint. Remember that in many cities such as Quincy and Edwardsville, competing newspapers would often bias their coverage according to political leanings. For example, in Quincy the Daily Democrat might have had a considerably different perspective than the Quincy Daily Whig. Students could use Douglas's actual paraphrasing of Lincoln's words as a model.

Extending the Lesson

Many excerpts of the Lincoln-Douglas debates can be found on the Internet. Students could be assigned to find how the two men's views differed on a variety of issues and how each man often misquoted the other in the debates. Explain why an adversary's report might differ from the opponents actual words.

Also, a current issue in the paper could be examined and the authencity of the paper in its reporting and paraphrasing could be compared to that of valid web sites or other media that emphasize reliable reporting.

Assessing the Lesson

Teachers should look for accuracy in student's attempts to report from specific political viewpoints.


Stephen A. Douglas's opening speech at Alton on October 15,1858:

"The principal points in that speech of Mr. Lincoln's were: First, that this government could not endure permanently divided into free and slave States [sic], as our fathers made it; that they must all become free or all become slave; all become one thing or all become the other, — otherwise this Union could not continue to exist."

Abraham Lincoln's actual words in accepting the Republican nomination, just before the first Lincoln-Douglas debates beginning on August 21, 1858:

"A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved -I do not expect the house to fall— but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.


Activity 5


Main Ideas

These activities can be used in U. S. history and Illinois geography classes.

Connection with the Curriculum

It is critical to know the earliest settlements in Illinois and how vital these early towns were to understanding the history of the state's first newspapers.

Teaching Level

Grades 5-9

Materials for Each Student

Copies of the blank Illinois county map. One master copy follows this lesson. One or more overhead copies may also prove useful.

Objectives for Each Student

Students locate and identify the earliest mail routes and understand the influence new ideas and technology would have on the dissemination of information via newspaper.


Opening the Lesson

Ask students what connection there might be between mail routes and newspapers. Would newspapers gain from being on mail routes or might the mail be considered competition?

Developing the Lesson
• Distribute copies of the following map of Illinois counties and Activity Sheet-Illinois Mail Routes.
• Have students locate the towns on the mail routes by decade through color-coding. Discuss what cities appear to be the hubs for these particular routes. Also, what do the directions traversed by these routes indicate about the informational orientation of the state?
1. Using an atlas such as Illinois Atlas & Gazeteer (Freeport, Maine: DeLorme Mapping, 1991) or similar reliable atlas, either the instructor or students should accurately draw in three early railroad routes and the Illinois and Michigan Canal.
2. Chicago, Burlington & Quincy route from Chicago to Galena
3. Alton Route from Chicago to St. Louis
4. Chicago and Eastern Illinois from Chicago toward Evansville, Indiana
• Discuss or have students write on the topic: Why did railroads build almost directly along early mail routes?
• How many of these routes also (appearing in Activity 6) gain telegraph stations.

Concluding the Lesson

Students should notice a distinct chronological evolution developed; mail came first, followed by canals, railroads, and telegraph. What now parallels almost all of these routes in the twentieth century's building phase?

Assessing the Lesson

Illustrate the evolution from mail through telegraph by teaching it directly. Another way is to have students develop overheads with rail routes and telegraph routes highlighted.


MAIL ROUTES 1810-1819




MAIL ROUTES 1820-1829

ROUTE 1 Springfield Girard Carlinville Alton

ROUTE 2 Quincy Carrollton

ROUTE 3 Quincy Camp Point Rushville Jacksonville

ROUTE 4 Rushville Lewistown Peoria

ROUTE 1 Pontiac Bloomington Lincoln Springfield

ROUTE 2 Galena Lee Aurora Chicago

ROUTE 3 Ottawa Oswego

ROUTE 4 Galena Lee Ottawa

ROUTE 5 Chicago Crete


Many newspapers in the 1840s reflected the times quite directly. The following are selected newspapers by decades:

1820s AND 1830s:
The Telegraph Express
Patriot Temperance-Herald

Genius of Liberty
Free Soil Banner
Journal de l'Illinois
Belleviller Zeitung
Genius of Universal Emancipation
Free West

Deutscher Anzeiger

Effingham Zeitung

Picket Guard
Il Messaggiere italiano dell' ouest

Why have most papers today moved away from demonstrative titles and taken more formal, apolitical status?

With a hard copy of a local newspaper, compare local advertisers—not mass inserts found in papers everywhere, i.e. KMart—with those of a major city newspaper. What differences are most noticeable in what is advertised and how it is advertised?


Activity 6


Main Ideas

Industrialization is one of the core units in U.S.history. Link some of the earliest inventions with the development of the state.

Teaching Level

Grades 6-9

Materials for Each Student

List of earliest telegraph lines in Illinois and Illinois county map (see Activity Sheet 5).

Objectives for Each Student

Students are to understand the relationship between paths of development along key communication routes and their impact on towns and ultimately, newspapers.


Opening the Lesson

The telegraph revolutionized communication much the same way that the telephone did some forty years later and internet e-mail does today. Ask students what was the fastest form of communication before the telegraph. What limitations did distance and geography set on communication and the availability of news? Thus, how might nearly instantaneous communication change these factors forever?

Developing the Lesson
• Using a copy of the 1860-69 newspaper map with color dots indicating telegraph stations, have students locate and put names of the cities with telegraph stations. Compare these cities' number of newspapers with nearby towns without the telegraph. What influence does the presence of the telegraph seem to have on newspaper growth in each of these kinds of towns?
• The first telegram in the nation was sent in 1844. Ask students to research the nature and origins of Morse Code. How would its limitations work to the advantage of newspapers? Moreover, how would its speed also aid newspapers? However, might there be ways in which the telegraph might rival the newspaper?
• The number of newspapers in Illinois skyrocketed from 52 papers in 1840 to 286 in 1860. What technological advances in addition to the telegraph could at least partially explain this boom?

Concluding the Lesson

Communications have been both complementary and competitive to newspapers in Illinois and around the world. In many ways, the newspaper has represented just one step on the evolutionary and revolutionary path of data collection and dissemination. Newspapers' high point came in the early-twentieth century. Following newspapers in communications were radio, microwave towers, television, and satellites. How have these significant developments in communications before the Internet and World Wide Web both aided newspapers in their collection of information and at the same time made newspapers less needed than ever? A few examples of alternative communications include:
• Direct-dial telephone service
• Satellite and microwave communications
• Computer-set type
• Facsimile machine
• Desktop publishing
• Wireless communication via radio frequencies or infrared (Apple's Newton, Motorola's Envoy)

Assessing the Lesson

Using the Internet, visit the Chicago Tribune's website at Compare the front-page stories and organization of the paper's body and individual pages with that found in one's local paper. In what ways are the two papers similar and different, other than location. What motivates local citizens to buy local papers if big city papers seemingly have so many advantages?



Racine -to- Chicago -to- Michigan City, Indiana


Chicago -to- Chillicothe
Galena -to- Chillicothe
Chillicothe -to- Peoria -to- Jacksonville
Muscantine, Iowa -to- Rushville -to- Jacksonville -to- Carrollton
St. Louis -to- Carlyle -to- Salem -to- Olney -to- Vincennes, Indiana
Chicago -to- Michigan City, Indiana


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