America had the most media, the cheapest media, and the freest media by the 1840’s. Communication through the media was vital to America in the early 1800’s because, as a democratic nation, the people needed to be well informed about their system of government. Following the American Revolution, the United States stayed from their traditional English ideas involving the relationship between the state and the people. Unlike Great Britain’s selective press and seditious libel laws, information and communication regarding government issues was necessary for democracy to thrive. Key factors that contributed to the growth of American media were the role of the post office, cheap print, growing literacy, and the First Amendment. A key element that contributed to the sudden increase of newspapers in the early 1800’s was the post office and congress’ involvement in postal communication. Revolutionary leader Benjamin Rush argued, “knowledge of every kind had to be circulated through every part of the United States in order to adapt the principals, morals, and manners of our citizens to our republican form of government.”1 In order for the people to be current and well informed about their government, it was important that congress extended the postal service making newspapers available to the growing population. In the early 1800’s congress had control of postal routes, which contributed to the expansion and power of the media. From 1792 to 1828, congress established 2476 new postal routes. This expansion meant that mail delivery was not just limited to certain states, but also to the less populated eastern states. Creating a broader network was essential at this time because, as a new democratic nation, congress needed the people to be well informed about political issues. Having a news network made it possible for the people to be involved and make more educated decisions while voting for political leaders. The expansion of the postal service and the more people...
Bibliography: 1. Paul Starr, The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communication (New York: Basic Books, 2004).
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