Date of Graduation

Summer 2014


Master of Arts in History



Committee Chair

William Piston


Public opinion was a major factor in deciding whether Missourians supported the Union or Confederacy during the American Civil War, 1861-1865. This study analyzes the role of the St. Louis press during the secession crisis, December 1860 to May 1861, to determine the relationship between newspaper coverage and public opinion, a topic which historians have treated inadequately. It examines city newspaper reportage in the context of the vast technological, commercial, social, and political factors affecting the press during this period. It concludes that despite a national movement toward independent, unbiased reportage, the St. Louis press remained strongly partisan. It demonstrates that each of the city's papers was officially or unofficially aligned with a major political faction in Missouri, and concludes that their biased reportage inhibited the ability of Missourians to comprehend complex political and military events. It further demonstrates that the St. Louis press shaped public opinion throughout the state and concludes that biased coverage of the secession crisis in St. Louis greatly heightened tensions across Missouri. This study thus contributes significantly to historians' understanding of the Civil War in Missouri by demonstrating a causal relationship between biased press reportage and inflamed public opinion during a critical time period.


American Civil War, journalism, Missouri, secession, German-Americans, the Camp Jackson Affair, Claiborne Jackson, Missouri Democrat, Missouri Republican, Anzeiger Des Westens, Westliche Post, Daily Bulletin, State Journal

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© Phillip Jason Rice

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