How did the rise of 1830s newspapers contribute to the North-South crisis?

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Newspapers became more important in the 1830s for several reasons. First, they became larger because of improvements in printing technology. Their focus was changed from partisanship to current events. They became cheaper; one printer in New York began to sell a newspaper for one penny. These developments led to large gains in readership. But literacy rates were higher in the North and West than in the South.

Newspapers covered the tumultuous events of Andrew Jackson's presidency in the early 1830s. These issues—which divided North and South—were the tariff and nullification. Articles for or against the tariff were sectional. In 1832, rising tension led to the nullification crisis that pitted Jackson against South Carolina. A Massachusetts newspaper reported: "If Nullification succeeds, the American system will be broken into pieces...and a dissolution of the Union, which has always been the wish of the leading men in opposition to the North, is likely to follow." Northern newspapers also excoriated Vice President John Calhoun, a leading son of South Carolina.

Another event that was covered by the newspapers was Nat Turner's revolt in 1831. He led a bloody and ultimately futile slave revolt. His capture, trial, and execution received a lot of coverage in Southern newspapers. A Virginia newspaper described Turner as "gloomy fanatic" who was guilty of "horrid butchery."

The most famous abolitionist newspaper began in 1831. William Lloyd Garrison's newspaper, The Liberator, was vociferous in its condemnation of slavery. Garrison provided an initial impetus to the anti-slavery movement. However, after 1840, his radical views on a number of issues led to a diminution of his influence, along with that of his newspaper. Another important abolitionist newspaper editor was Elijah Lovejoy. When Lovejoy edited the St. Louis Observer, he was forced to leave St. Louis. He moved across the Mississippi River to Alton in Illinois, a free state. In spite of this, he was murdered by a mob in 1837. The first African-American abolitionist paper—published by Frederick Douglass—did not appear until 1847.

From the 1830s to the start of the Civil War in 1861, newspapers reflected the increasingly sharp sectional divisions.

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