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"Fake news in 1861" Topic

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donlowry01 Jun 2021 10:36 a.m. PST

I recently ran across the following in a letter that Grant, then colonel of 21st Ill., in northern Missouri, wrote to his father on 3 Aug 1861:

The majority in this part of the State are secessionists, as we would term them, but deplore the present state of affairs. They would make almost any sacrifice to have the Union restored, but regard it as dissolved, and nothing is left for them but to choose between two evils. Many, too, seem to be entirely ignorant of the object of present hostilities. You cannot convince them but that the ultimate object is to extinguish slavery by force. Then, too, they feel that the Southern Confederacy will never consent to give up their State, and as they, the South, are the strong party, it is prudent to favor them from the start. There is never a movement of troops made, that the secession journals through the country do not give a startling account of their almost annihilation at the hands of the State troops, whilst the facts are, there are no engagements. My regiment has been reported cut to pieces once that I know of, and I don't know but oftener, whilst a gun has not been fired at us. These reports go uncontradicted here and give confirmation to the conviction already entertained that one Southron is equal to five Northerners. We believe they are deluded, and know that if they are not, we are.
Since I have been in command of this military district, (two weeks), I have received the greatest hospitality and attention from the citizens about here. I have had every opportunity of conversing with them freely and learning their sentiments, and although I have confined myself strictly to the truth as to what has been the result of the different engagements, the relative strength, the objects of the Administration, and the North generally, yet I think they don't believe a word.

Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP01 Jun 2021 10:42 a.m. PST

Sounds familiar!


79thPA Supporting Member of TMP01 Jun 2021 11:07 a.m. PST

"Fake News" was a real issue during the ACW.

rmaker01 Jun 2021 2:16 p.m. PST

As much poor/nonexistent communications as deliberate falsehood. As in:
"Hey! I got a paper to get out, here! If nobody's gonna give me any news to write, I'll write it myself."

Personal logo John the Greater Supporting Member of TMP02 Jun 2021 7:19 a.m. PST

In 1861 the concept of an unbiased press lay in the future. Newspapers certainly carried a lot of news and there were far more newspapers in 1861 than we have today, but it is very important to know the bias of the news source when reading these papers.

mildbill02 Jun 2021 9:21 a.m. PST

It is always critical to try to discover the bias of anything you read. Sometimes the most respectable academics
are the worst offenders.

donlowry02 Jun 2021 9:30 a.m. PST

Too true, mildbill!

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP02 Jun 2021 9:38 a.m. PST

The last sentence, where Grant talks about sticking to the truth, "yet I don't think they believe a word" is chilling. Straight talk from a man who did not waste words or play games. Thank you for this window on today.

donlowry03 Jun 2021 8:45 a.m. PST

"A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest." Paul Simon

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP03 Jun 2021 8:48 p.m. PST

In 1861 the concept of an unbiased press lay in the future.

And in 2021, the same applies. It will always be in the future.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP04 Jun 2021 8:29 a.m. PST

And in 2021, the same applies. It will always be in the future.

Well the repeal of the "Fairness Doctrine" on August 5, 1987 didn't help. Thinks went to pot completely on October 7, 1996…….

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