978-1-58648-428-6 / 9781586484286

Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism





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About the book:

This work presents an enjoyable exploration of the raucous roots of American journalism, and how they shaped the nation's history. Eric Burns' "Infamous Scribblers" is a perceptive and witty exploration of the most volatile period in the history of the American press. Burns reintroduces us to Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and Sam Adams - the leading journalists among the Founding Fathers; to George Washington and John Adams, the leading disdainers of journalists; and to Thomas Jefferson, the leading manipulator of journalists. Then there were a crowd of writers - the first American media - who abused and praised them in print: men such as the incendiary James Franklin, Ben's brother and one of the first muckrakers, the high-minded Thomas Paine, the hatchet man James Callender, and a rebellious and independent crowd of local propagandists, pamphleteers, and publishers. Journalism in the early days of the nation was often partisan, fabricated, overheated, scandalous, sensationalistic and, luckily, at times stirring, brilliant, and indispensable. Reminiscent of today's ubiquitous media dialogue, the revolutionaries of the time first hashed out publicly the issues that led America to declare its independence and, after the war, discussed openly what sort of nation it would be. Despite Washington's frustration with being "buffited in the public prints by a set of infamous scribblers," Burns makes a compelling case that these "infamous scribblers" had a huge impact on making America the fair, free, discursive country it is today.

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