Introduction

This site provides access to over 1,000 newspaper editorials detailing the shifting tides of emotion and opinion in the 16 months leading to Southern secession and the American Civil War. The site is intended primarily as a teaching resource, to enrich students’ exploration and understanding of the period and assist history teachers by expanding the available primary sources.

The project has its origins in a three-volume series prepared for the American Historical Association in the 1930s by Dwight Dumond (Southern editorials) and Harold Perkins (Northern editorials). In reviewing the series, we were troubled by the selectivity of the coverage and its often uneven geographic distibution. So we expanded the coverage and range by including editorials from regions neglected in the original series—particularly in the West, with the inclusion of newspapers from California, Texas, and the Missouri-Kansas border region.

The editorials in the site are searchable by newspaper or by location. The site also includes a chronology of major events in the secession crisis.

This project originated from a suggestion from Andrew McMichael, the AHA’s first webmaster, in 1997. But it took almost a decade and many hands to finally bring to fruition. Robert B. Townsend pushed the project forward a bit in 2003, as part of a class project with Paula Petrik at George Mason University. And the project finally rounded into completion under the guidance of Dr. Andrew M. Bell between 1996 and 1997. The material culled from the archives by Dwight L. Dumond, Harold Perkins, Andrew Bell, and Andrew Britt; Liz Townsend provided copyediting assistance; and Frances Clarke and Richard Bond provided additional research assistance and support.