Archive | July, 2016

Becoming “Us” by Getting Rid of “Them”

In a time of tumultuous change, as its society was being transformed by new means of transportation, increased access to information, and an avalanche of settlers, on August 10, 1821, Missouri became a state.  Its new status marked the end of the era of multicultural tolerance in the Mississippi valley. The new settlers considered themselves […]

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Everything Changes: Newspapers and Democracy

“It would diminish the importance of [American  newspapers],” wrote Alexis de Tocqueville in 1840, “to believe that they serve only to guarantee freedom; they maintain civilization.” In the four decades before these words were published, there had been an explosion of newspapers throughout America, from the great cities to the tiniest towns.  In 1810 there […]

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Fanny Trollope Disapproves

Frances Trollope, an English novelist and the mother of a more famous one, had only just arrived at the mouth of the Mississippi in November of 1827, and already she disapproved.  Looking around her, all she could see was “desolation,” “degradation,”  “mud banks, monstrous bulrushes, and now and then a huge crocodile luxuriating in the […]

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Everything Changes: the Arrival of the Steamboats

“It is  now refreshing, and imparts a feeling of energy and power to the beholder,  to see the large and beautiful steamboats scudding up the eddies, as though on the wing; and when they have run out the eddy, strike the current.  The foam bursts in a sheet quite over the deck.  She quivers for […]

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