Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Booknotes: Kentucky's Rebel Press

New Arrival:
Kentucky's Rebel Press: Pro-Confederate Media and the Secession Crisis
by Berry Craig (Univ Press of KY, 2017).

Historian Berry Craig has authored a number of Civil War Kentucky titles, mostly centering on the western part of the state. I liked his study of the pro-Confederate movement in the Jackson Purchase, Kentucky Confederates (2014). Pro-Confederate newspapers are his latest topic of interest.

By Craig's estimate, nearly half the newspapers in the state leaned pro-Confederate in 1860. This was not representative of the sentiments of the population at large, but it gave Southern Rights partisans a strong propaganda forum.

Kentucky's Rebel Press "analyzes the media's role in both reflecting and shaping public opinion during a critical time in US history. Craig begins by investigating the 1860 secession crisis, which occurred at a time when most Kentuckians considered themselves ardent Unionists in support of the state's political hero, Henry Clay. But as secessionist arguments were amplified throughout the country, so were the voices of pro-Confederate journalists in the state. By January 1861, the Hickman Courier, Columbus Crescent, and Henderson Reporter steadfastly called for Kentucky to secede from the Union."

The book also "also showcases journalists who supported the Confederate cause, including editor Walter N. Haldeman, who fled the state after Kentucky's most recognized Confederate paper, the Louisville Daily Courier, was shut down by Union forces."

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