Periodicals offered an important venue for authors in the nineteenth century. The lack of any international copyright agreement guaranteed a mass influx of reprinted novels from abroad, so many American authors eventually came to rely on payments from magazines—meager as they were in this period—to augment their limited book-publishing income. While many works in periodicals were published anonymously, by the 1860s more and more editors were including, even trumpeting, the names of their contributors, and so magazines also emerged as a valuable marketing tool for authors and publishers. Most magazines were originally published on the East Coast and served primarily regional markets, but, as time passed, prominent periodicals appeared in the South and in the West, and improvements in transportation and technology laid the groundwork for truly national magazines to emerge.
THE TURBULENT TWENTIES
Magazine readers in the 1820s had a multitude of options to choose from, provided they never grew too attached to any particular publication. Magazines during these early years were most often sold by subscription with rates ranging from one to five dollars a year. Readers seldom had the opportunity to renew their subscriptions more than once. Nearly one hundred titles premiered during this decade, but far fewer emerged from it. So many periodicals triumphantly announced their appearances in breathless prospectuses, only to close shop shortly afterward, that some announcements took the form of apologies, attempting to account for why the public might possibly be interested in yet another journal. In their rush to reach their readers, the editors of the Atlantic Magazine of New York (1824–1825)—not to be confused with the later and infinitely more successful Atlantic Monthly of Boston—were forced to apologize for the quality of their contents, as well; inside of the front cover, they included this note: "The contents of the first number of this Magazine have been hastily collected, and rapidly printed, as the publishers were determined to comply with the promise of their prospectus . . . . It cannot, therefore, be considered a fair specimen of the quality or quantity of the matter, to which its pages are devoted." While unusual for its candor, this assessment of quality could describe many a new enterprise during these years.
Such was the gold rush mentality that seemed to grip publishers in the major publishing centers of New York, Philadelphia, and, trailing, Boston, early in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. It is true that some titles begun prior to the 1820s had managed to last—most notably the North American Review, which began publication in Boston in 1815 and survived into the twentieth century, and the Port Folio, which was produced in Philadelphia and ran from 1801 to 1827. Others would manage respectable runs of seven or eight years, but these rare successes seemed primarily to spur others to the attempt, not to provide models for how a magazine could make a go of it.
In an effort to attract readers and to ensure survival, editors often offered an eclectic variety of original stories, poems, and reviews, with a more than liberal helping of reprinted articles from popular British magazines. As the editors of the short-lived Cincinnati Literary Gazette (1824–1825) humbly put it,
As it is our aim in this paper to be useful rather than original . . . we shall not hesitate to select from worthy sources, such sentiments as may accord with our own, particularly when the thoughts happen to be expressed in better language than our compositions may at all times exhibit. (P. 13)
Even those magazines most devoted to the cause of forwarding the development of an American literature were not exempt from the necessity of providing foreign material. One such magazine, among the few to survive its first year and recognized by later critics as one of the rare gems to emerge from this tumultuous period, was the all-inclusively titled The New-York Mirror, and Ladies' Literary Gazette; Being a Repository of Miscellaneous Literary Productions, in Prose and Verse (1823–1842). Its first editors, Samuel Woodworth (1785–1842) and George Pope Morris (1802–1864), note in the premier issue,
The character of this work is intended to be, literally and emphatically,american. Not that interesting articles of foreign origin will be wholly excluded; for that would be neither just nor politic. But all the images reflected from our Mirror . . . shall be in accordance with our national habits, patriotism, and modes of thinking. (P. 1)
Such an emphasis on nationalism was not uncommon in these magazines, with editors offering varying explanations both for their inclusion of so much foreign material and for the painfully short life spans of so many periodicals seeking to foster American literature.
Despite their "polite" gesture to the public's taste for republished works, Woodworth and Morris truly strove to offer a diverse selection of material in the New-York Mirror, as this early list of departments indicates: "Original Moral Tales," "Reviews," "Original Essays," "Female Character," "American Biography," "Problems—in the arts and sciences," "Literary Intelligence," "The Drama," "The Toilet—or a description of the newest fashions, foreign or domestic," "The Forum—or a brief sketch of the debates of that institution," "Desultory Selections—with original remarks," "Anecdotes," "Passing Events of the Week," and "Poetry—original and selected" (p. 1). Many other magazines followed this model, attempting to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. In keeping with this idea, several editors announced that they would studiously avoid matters of religious or political argument, leaving that field open to the many newspapers that were also circulating during this period.
OBSTACLES TO SUCCESS
In addition to competition from numerous newspapers and other periodicals, magazines were vulnerable to any number of disruptions. The Minerva, a New York publication that began in 1822 and managed to last until 1825, was forced to delay the release of its second number due to the illness of the printer. In 1827 the editor of The Ariel (1827–1832) was forced to plead with potential subscribers to stop sending requests for subscriptions without first paying the postage on their letters, so he could make the magazine "even moderately profitable" ("To the Public," p. 32). The vagaries of the postal system, which lacked uniform standards from town to town, were a considerable source of trouble. In 1844 Nathaniel Parker Willis (1806–1867) joined forces with Morris to produce the New Mirror (1843–1844), only to be stymied by the irregular system of mailing rates. When Willis learned that the rates varied from two to fifteen cents an issue, in some places nearly doubling the cost of a subscription, he howled at the injustice in his magazine before, a few months later, he announced the creation of the Evening Mirror, a daily newspaper that could ship at the more reasonable newspaper postage. Rates for newspapers were dramatically cheaper, and magazine subscribers paid the higher price for shipping until 1852, when the law was changed to both lower the rate for magazines and allow publishers to pay the cost and roll it into the standard subscription fee.
Even more insidious were episodes of deliberate tampering. Elihu Embree (1782–1820), the courageous editor and publisher of The Emancipator (1820), an early antislavery magazine produced in Jonesborough, Tennessee, vented his frustration with the postal service in the pages of his magazine: "postmasters: TheEmancipator has been pillaged by some of those through whose hands it has to pass to subscribers, at a rate which reflects disgrace on human nature, when we compare it with the solemn obligation of the oaths they have taken, and the trust reposed in them" (p. 64). For Embree, who estimated in the third number that 2,600 copies would be sufficient to supply his entire subscription list, losses like these were no small matter. The editor even asked those who had decided not to continue subscribing to return their early numbers so that he could send them to new subscribers. Regardless of these obstacles, editors were often forced to expend space in their pages begging subscribers to send payment as soon as possible. Even larger publications publicly denounced the hundreds who had failed to send the money they owed. While publishers liked to brag that no expense was spared in producing their periodical, the fact was that, in light of the obstacles to success, thrift was an overriding concern.
NEW YORK GIANTS: THE KNICKERBOCKER, PUTNAM'S, AND HARPER'S
While New York had long been home to numerous—if short-lived—periodicals, scholars agree that the appearance of The Knickerbocker (1833–1862, and then surviving until 1865 as the Knickerbocker Monthly) marked a significant step forward in terms of quality and influence. Lewis Gaylord Clark (1808–1873), who served as editor from 1834 until 1860, secured a stable of contributors that was the envy of its rivals. Contributors included Washington Irving, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne, James Fenimore Cooper, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. While its title clearly pointed to its regional roots, Clark did not hesitate to include the work of prominent New Englanders, as well as occasional pieces from other regions. His "Editor's Table" set a standard for both humor and comments on current events: for example, Clark quickly made known his opinions regarding the ongoing debate over international copyright, publishing a letter Cooper had written to his publishers in 1826 addressing the issue. So popular were his columns that Clark published them in a separate volume, Knick-Knacks from an Editor's Table in 1852. While not a tremendous financial success, The Knickerbocker stands out for the quality of the work it published.
Putnam's Monthly Magazine (1853–1857; 1868–1870) debuted in January 1853 with a great deal of optimism and national pride. In contrast with many of its contemporaries, particularly the periodical phenomenon known as Harper's New Monthly Magazine (which launched in 1850 and, after becoming Harper's Monthly in 1900, has continued into the twenty-first century), the magazine refused to reprint British articles. Like The Knickerbocker, the magazine boasted an initial list of contributors that included many of the most prominent authors of New York and New England. During its relatively short life span, it would publish some of Herman Melville's most important short fiction, including "Bartleby, the Scrivener" (1853) and "Benito Cereno," (1855), aiding the author's transition into a magazine writer, and works by James Russell Lowell and Henry David Thoreau. The publisher during the first two years, George Palmer Putnam (1814–1872), assembled a trio of experienced writers and journalists to edit the magazine: Charles Frederick Briggs, George William Curtis, and Parke Godwin. Twenty thousand copies of the first issue were printed, and, at least in the short term, this optimism was rewarded: during the first year, the number grew to thirty-five thousand. While its literary quality was and still is evident, the magazine also spoke to contemporary issues such as slavery and women's rights. In 1855, his publishing house struggling, Putnam sold the magazine to Dix, Edwards, and Co., a firm that ran into trouble of its own and, despite adding illustrations and portraits to the pages, was forced to cease publication. The magazine reemerged after the Civil War, but its circulation was small, and it never achieved its former prominence. In 1870 it merged with Scribner's Monthly (1870–1881).
Harper's New Monthly Magazine was the juggernaut of American magazines during this period. Eschewing the proclaimed nationalist motives of many of its rivals, it openly embraced reprinting British authors. In its first number, the publishers promised to provide their readers the serial tales of authors like Charles Dickens and Edward Bulwer-Lytton. With 144 pages in the first issue and a rate of only three dollars a year, the magazine quickly became popular, printing fifty thousand copies in its first year. Designed to help forward the cause of the Harper brothers' publishing house, the only advertisements it carried during its first thirty-two years were for Harpers books. To follow this success, the publishers introduced Harper's Weekly (1857–1976), a "family newspaper" that featured many illustrations and articles on current affairs. It rose to particular prominence during the Civil War; its reporting and pictures helped it to sustain a subscription list of over 100,000 throughout the conflict. Both of the Harper's magazines pointed the way toward truly national publications.
PHILADELPHIA AND GEORGE REX GRAHAM
Philadelphia produced a relatively high volume of magazines, several of which enjoyed long runs. One of the most prominent of these was Casket (1826–1840), primarily a collection of reprinted articles from other magazines. Its importance to later literary scholars can be traced to the day that George Rex Graham (1813–1894) purchased it in 1839. Graham combined it with another Philadelphia magazine, Burton's Gentleman's Magazine (1837–1840) and, in 1840, produced Graham's Magazine (1840–1858). At the time of Graham's purchase of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849) was the editor, and he became literary editor for Graham's in 1841. He would go on to be a frequent contributor to the magazine during his time there, and his famous story "The Masque of the Red Death" appeared in the May 1842 issue. During its first two years in existence, Graham claimed to have grown his subscription list from 5,500 to 40,000. Even allowing for exaggeration, these are impressive figures. In addition to Poe, the magazine's contributors included figures such as Lowell, Cooper, and Longfellow. In 1848 Graham was forced to sell the magazine, but it survived his absence, and he was able to take the helm again in 1850. His timing was unfortunate, for Harper's debuted in that year, and Graham's could not compete. He sold it again in 1853, and, in later years, the editor and publisher would claim that his criticism of the immensely popular Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) hastened the demise of the magazine. After the sale the magazine continued its decline for a few more years finally disappearing.
Although it never matched the sheer volume of magazines appearing and disappearing in New York and Philadelphia, Boston was also an important publishing center during this period. The popular Juvenile Miscellany and Merry's Museum were produced there, as was William Lloyd Garrison's (1805–1879) influential The Liberator, an abolitionist magazine that ran from 1831 until the end of the Civil War. In 1840 The Dial: A Magazine for Literature, Philosophy, and Religion (1840–1844) appeared as the literary emissary for the transcendentalist movement. Although Margaret Fuller (1810–1850) was its primary editor in the beginning, Amos Bronson Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, and especially Ralph Waldo Emerson were influential in setting the course for the quarterly magazine, and Emerson would eventually serve as editor in 1842. Its circulation was quite small, but the magazine was read and reviewed carefully (if not always kindly) by those attempting to understand this new way of thinking. In contrast to its philosophical predecessor, no Boston periodical did more to influence literary opinions and fashions than the Atlantic Monthly (1857–present). Edited first by James Russell Lowell between 1857 and 1861 and then by James T. Fields from 1861 to 1871, the magazine set the standard for what was considered "literature" in American culture. While no Boston magazine of this period ever seriously challenged the popularity of Harper's or Godey's Lady's Book, these examples demonstrate that several made lasting contributions disproportionate to the number of copies sold.
Even in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, magazines were being published outside of the three major eastern cities. In the south, Charleston was an early contender for prominence, producing at least six titles from 1820 to 1835. None of these could compete in terms of importance with two magazines that would emerge from Richmond and New Orleans, respectively: the Southern Literary Messenger (1834–1864) and The Commercial Review of the South and West (1846–1870). James Heath (1792–1862), the editor of the Messenger during its first year, threw down the gauntlet before his fellow southerners in the first number:
Hundreds of similar publications thrive and prosper north of the Potomac, sustained as they are by the liberal hand of patronage. Shall not one be supported in the whole south? This is a question of great importance;—and one which ought to be answered with sober earnestness by all who set any value upon public character, or who are in the least degree jealous of that individual honor and dignity which is in some measure connected with the dignity of the state. Are we to be doomed forever to a kind of vassalage to our northern neighbors—a dependence for our literary food upon our brethren, whose superiority in all the great points of character,—in valor—eloquence and patriotism, we are no wise disposed to admit? ("Southern Literature," p. 1)
As this statement suggests, the magazine was avowedly sectional in content and outlook, although it did quote approvingly northern well-wishers, including among others Cooper and John Quincy Adams, and in its second number bragged of "the friendly and liberal support received from various gentlemen residing in the states north of the Potomac" (p. 33). Nevertheless, it included articles such as "Letters from New England. By a Virginian," acquainting readers with that strange and mysterious territory, "Yankee-land."
In 1835 Poe began a brief tenure as editor that lasted until 1837. While he wrote some fiction and poetry for the magazine during this period, and reprinted material he had first published elsewhere, his writing in the Messenger that drew the most attention was his literary criticism. In sharp language, Poe tackled northern and southern writers alike. The gratitude, curiosity, and even-handed—if occasionally harsh—criticism directed toward the North that were evident throughout the pages of the early volumes faded as the years progressed. By the 1850s the magazine was growing increasingly political and publishing a great deal of material in defense of slavery. In 1861 the editor at the time, George William Bagby (1828–1883), wrote a call for secession that drove off most northern readers (Mott 1:654). The magazine struggled to survive during the Civil War, repeatedly raising prices and diminishing quality, and it finally ceased publication in 1864.
The Commercial Review of the South and West, began, like the Messenger, with a lament regarding the state of southern publishing. The editor, James D. B. De Bow (1820–1867), noted in the first issue, "In the higher departments little has yet been accomplished among us" (p. 3). To avoid the fate of other periodicals, De Bow set out to produce a magazine that would speak to the "practical wants of every-day life" (p. 4), and he also set forth a strictly regional focus. In keeping with such a mission, literature played only a minor role in the magazine (which in 1847 changed its title to De Bow's Commercial Review of the South and West), during its early years.
Despite the sectional ambitions and character set forth in the first number, De Bow also promised to steer clear of party movements and adopt "an active neutrality " (p. 6). As one might suspect, this became a difficult position to maintain as time went on, and by 1849 De Bow was already looking ahead to sectional conflict, if only in an economic sense. By the 1850s De Bow was actively discussing secession and publishing numerous proslavery articles. In 1853 the name of the magazine was shortened to De Bow's Review even as the scope of its interests and audience narrowed. The scholar Frank Luther Mott describes it during this period as "almost a textbook on the southern view of the slavery question" (2:344). Given De Bow's views, it is not surprising that the editor went on to work for the Confederacy, and, as the war progressed, the magazine was suspended. It reappeared in 1866 following a presidential pardon for its editor, and it managed to survive a few years longer, although it never regained its early stature. De Bow died in 1870, and the magazine disappeared a few months later.
Between 1820 and 1844 fewer than ten purely literary magazines were published in the West, a region that was generally considered during this time to extend as far as Ohio and Kentucky. With an undeveloped postal system and limited transportation options, these were almost exclusively small and regional publications. The center for many of these was Cincinnati. In 1836 the Western Literary Journal, and Monthly Review debuted at a modest subscription price of three dollars a year. In its first number, the editor W. D. Gallagher (1808–1894) bravely observed,
The materials are in existence in the Mississippi Valley, for a fictitious literature at once attractive, wholesome, and unhackneyed. . . . With adventures interesting and hazardous, exploits daring and astonishing, characters original and unique, and states of human existence novel and peculiar,—what may not the fertile and ingenious literateur produce? (P. 66)
Gallagher's tone in this inaugural issue echoes that of his southern counterparts, but, with fewer than a thousand subscribers, his optimism appears to have been misplaced, and after six months the publishers were forced to sell the magazine.
In 1844 another magazine took the field in Cincinnati, with the less-than-original title Western Literary Journal and Monthly Review (1844–1845). In familiar rhetoric, the editors, E. Z. C. Judson and L. A. Hine, called upon their readers to show sectional loyalty, beseeching "the citizens of the west, to support a work which they should call their own, because devoted to their own interests, and filled with the productions of their own pens" (p. 51). In its first issue, the lead article offered a gloomy history of the failure of western periodicals, the author offering four reasons for the sad record. While others had often ascribed the lack of a vibrant literary press to the demands on time and energy that accompanied settling a new territory, this author offered far more prosaic rationales. These were a predilection in the newspapers for eastern and British publications, the failure of prominent western authors to provide material for the fledgling works, the failure of subscribers to live up to their commitments in paying their bills, and a lack of skilled and efficient publishers. Even with such an apparently clear understanding of the difficulties, the short lifespan of the magazine reveals that it was no more successful than its similarly titled forebear.
As the years passed, western magazines continued to appear and disappear with some regularity, even as the nation continued to expand. By the 1860s several periodicals were appearing in San Francisco. The Californian (1864–1868), edited by Charles Henry Webb (1834–1905), published the work of two local writers who would soon rise to more national prominence: Bret Harte (1836–1902) and Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1835–1910). When the magazine folded, another, the Overland Monthly (1868–1875), rose to take its place. With Harte as its principal editor, it garnered praise from a number of its eastern counterparts: readers were now paying attention to what was being published across the country, and, when Harte's story "The Luck of Roaring Camp" appeared in the second number, his national reputation was made—that is, when his identity was revealed, as contributors to the magazine were at this time still anonymous (Mott 3:404). Although Twain published several travel pieces in the magazine, including "A Californian Abroad—A Mediaeval Romance," it was his eventual rival Harte who was the prominent western writer at this time. Twain's rise would coincide with both his move east and the emergence of truly national periodicals.
"TO THE LADIES"
Women were already an important audience for American magazines in the 1820s, and their influence grew during the next fifty years. In addition to magazines like the New-York Mirror and The Euterpeiad (Boston, 1820–1821), which also called themselves "Ladies' Gazettes," a number of periodicals geared specifically toward women and families appeared. One important early title is the Ladies' Magazine (1828–1836), later titled American Ladies' Magazine (1834–1836) when it was discovered that it shared its title with a British counterpart. The editor, Sarah J. Hale (1788–1879), combined a fervent belief in education with conservative moral values. At the same time, however, she was a powerful voice in support of female participation in professional writing. In the pages of her magazine, one could find articles advising mothers to prevent their daughters from becoming close friends with other girls—such friendships proving "frequently injurious to their moral characters" (Phelps, p. 15)—alongside "Female Biography," celebrating "those who have been eminent for domestic virtues and benevolence, as well as those who have exhibited brilliant talents and literary excellence" (Hale, p. 41). Hale boasted of the quality and prestige of her female contributors, who included the popular authors Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Lydia H. Sigourney, and Lydia Maria Child.
Hale's influence grew when she joined forces with the Philadelphia publisher Louis Antoine Godey (1804–1878). He had published the Lady's Book for nine years (1830–1839), and in 1837 he purchased the Ladies' Magazine and hired Hale to edit his magazine. She would continue to edit the magazine, which went through a variety of name changes beginning in 1840 all revolving around the central title Godey's Lady's Book, until 1877. At its peak, the magazine boasted 150,000 subscribers. While the magazine continued to feature didactic essays alongside sentimental stories and poetry, Hale also continued to push for the inclusion of female voices. The January 1840 number included only female contributors, and, Hale commented in February, "The Ladies must be heard, and they always claim precedence" ("Publisher's Notices," p. 96). Men did eventually appear between the covers of this popular magazine, and contributors included William Gilmore Simms and the prolific magazine-writer and editor Nathaniel Parker Willis, as well as Emerson, Hawthorne, and Poe.
Other prominent female authors edited publications during this period. Child founded and edited the popular Juvenile Miscellany, a magazine designed for young readers, from 1826 to 1834, and Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888) served as editor for the long-running children's magazine Merry's Museum (1841–1872) for three years, from 1867 to 1870. Margaret Fuller edited the transcendentalist organ The Dial. Patricia Okker states that, throughout the nineteenth century, more than six hundred women served as editors at various times for various publications. While many magazines were written "to the ladies," often women were doing the editing as well as the reading.
ANONYMITY AND COMPENSATION IN MAGAZINES
The first issue of the Atlantic Magazine in 1824 began with a "Conversation between the Publishers and the Editor." During the course of the discussion, the two parties consider the problem of finding able contributors:
Ed.: . . . We can find contributors enough, if they are paid; but where can we get the right sort? . . . And how pay a decent compensation for the labours of those whom we find worthy?
Pub.: . . . Those who are able and willing to assist us, must accept their honorarium for the principle of the thing, until their exertions will permit us to make it respectable. And as to false delicacy, we will obviate its scruples, by forwarding every contributor's dues to any address given in his communication.
Ed.: Lucri bonus est odor ex re qualibet. I do not think any body will be deterred from sending us a communication, by the fear of being tendered a pecuniary reward. But most of those gentlemen on whom we might rely for regular and interesting papers, are engaged in professional pursuits. We can only expect the occasional effusion of a leisure hour, or the hasty and incondite product of often interrupted efforts.
As this passage suggests, in the 1820s, payments to contributors were both irregular and not quite enough to allow one to make a "respectable" living off of them. There was no class of "professional" magazine writers, only "gentlemen" who tossed off the occasional piece as a recreation or distraction. This prominent perception of authorship, combined with the inadequate pay, contributed to the penchant for anonymity among American writers and editors: it was as unseemly for one to take public credit for one's work as it was to accept modest financial compensation for it. Authors might share the news of their literary success with their family or friends, but they shared their identity in print far less often. One was supposed to write for the magazines for recreation, not for wages and recognition.
As the century went on, these conditions changed considerably. Mott has pinpointed the early 1840s as the period when magazine writing began becoming a truly professional pursuit. Writers like Willis and Poe were appearing in numerous periodicals, and more and more magazines began offering remuneration to contributors. In particular, Graham's Magazine and Godey's offered rates considered "liberal." Graham offered up to sixty dollars for a five-thousand-word article (Mott 1:506). Such compensation was not the case for every magazine. Walt Whitman (1819–1892) lamented in 1846, "Most of our authors are frittering away their brains for an occasional five dollar bill from the magazine publishers" (p. 252). Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, first serialized in the National Era (1847–1860) beginning in 1851 and running over the course of forty issues, earned the author a mere four hundred dollars (Mott 2:22). Authors with established reputations could expect something approaching fair compensation, but, with the rare exceptions, writing for magazines remained a difficult means of making a living for most. Still, in a sign of how things were changing, in 1868 Stowe wrote a series of articles giving advice to women looking to enter the literary profession by writing for the magazines, a prospect that editors of the 1820s may never have imagined.
Magazines and the reputations of their writers became more closely intertwined in the 1860s as the tradition of anonymous publication came to an end. Authorial attribution was occasionally given for some articles and reviews, and the sharp-eyed reader might scan the list of contributors to their favorite periodical and assign names to works, but there was no systematic policy. In 1868 the stalwart North American Review changed its policy and began publishing names, and other magazines soon followed suit. In 1870, when The Galaxy (1866–1878) signed a contract with Mark Twain, its editors trumpeted the news on the front covers. The careers of authors and the success of magazines grew more closely intertwined as a result.
AFTER THE WAR: THE RISE OF NATIONAL MAGAZINES
Many literary periodicals struggled during the Civil War, but, as the war drew to a close, the nation was poised for a period of remarkable publishing expansion. In 1865 there were roughly seven hundred periodicals published in the United States; by the end of the decade, that number had nearly doubled. The end of the war marked an end—at least on paper—of the sectional conflict that had divided Northern and Southern readerships, and the number of railroad lines that had sprung up for military and industrial purposes brought more and more of the West in reach. Both of these developments greatly expanded the potential market for magazines. Improvements in technology also allowed for more numbers to be printed more quickly and inexpensively, and the increase in advertising in magazines offered another revenue stream to keep the publications afloat. When Scribner's Monthly (later The Century) debuted in 1870, it already had forty thousand subscribers. A new age in American magazines was about to begin.
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Martin T. Buinicki