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Famous Americans of Recent Times eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 523 pages of information about Famous Americans of Recent Times.
it, can bring the available and practised intellect of his country to bear upon the passions of his countrymen; for it is a fact, that nearly the whole literary talent of a nation is at the command of any honorable man who has money enough, with tact enough.  The editor who expends fifty guineas a day in the purchase of three short essays can have them written by the men who can do them best.  What a power is this, to say three things every morning to a whole nation,—­to say them with all the force which genius, knowledge, and practice united can give,—­and to say them without audible contradiction!  Fortunate for England is it that this power is no longer concentrated in a single man, and that the mighty influence once wielded by an individual will henceforth be exerted by a profession.

We in America have escaped all danger of ever falling under the dominion of a paper despot.  There will never be a Times in America.  Twenty years ago the New York news and the New York newspaper reached distant cities at the same moment; but since the introduction of the telegraph, the news outstrips the newspaper, and is given to the public by the local press.  It is this fact which forever limits the circulation and national importance of the New York press.  The New York papers reach a village in Vermont late in the afternoon,—­six, eight, ten hours after a carrier has distributed the Springfield Republican; and nine people in ten will be content with the brief telegrams of the local centre.  At Chicago, the New York paper is forty hours behind the news; at San Francisco, thirty days; in Oregon, forty.  Before California had been reached by the telegraph, the New York newspapers, on the arrival of a steamer, were sought with an avidity of which the most ludicrous accounts have been given.  If the news was important and the supply of papers inadequate, nothing was more common than for a lucky newsboy to dispose of his last sheets at five times their usual price.  All this has changed.  A spirited local press has anticipated the substance of the news, and most people wait tranquilly for the same local press to spread before them the particulars when the tardy mail arrives.  Even the weekly and semi-weekly editions issued by the New York daily press have probably reached their maximum of importance; since the local daily press also publishes weekly and semi-weekly papers, many of which are of high excellence and are always improving, and have the additional attraction of full local intelligence.  If some bold Yankee should invent a method by which a bundle of newspapers could be shot from New York to Chicago in half an hour, it would certainly enhance the importance of the New York papers, and diminish that of the rapidly expanding and able press of Chicago.  Such an invention is possible; nay, we think it a probability.  But even in that case, the local news, and, above all, the local advertising, would still remain as the basis of a great, lucrative, honorable, and very attractive business.

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