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A Free Press in FreeHand: The Spirit of American Blogging in the Handwritten Newspapers of John McLean Harrington 1858-1869


A Free Press in FreeHand: The Spirit of American Blogging in the Handwritten Newspapers of John McLean Harrington 1858-1869 Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

This is the astonishing story of North Carolinian John McLean Harrington, a maverick journalist who before and during the Civil War handwrote up to a hundred copies of each issue of his own various newspapers. As cultural and military battle lines were drawn across the South, Harrington, while postmaster in Harnett County, blogged in longhand about everything from the plight of slaves to unrequited love, international relations, and technology. He became an outspoken dilettante journalist, a defender of press freedom, and one of the nation's most productive longhand journalists. Includes photos and accompanying transcriptions of two complete issues of Harrington's papers.


Michael Ray Smith, Ph.D., is an award-winning journalist, photographer, and author of many articles and five books, including FeatureWriting.Net. He has been quoted in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, and Editor & Publisher. He teaches at Campbell University — a few miles from the book's setting. Roy Alden Atwood (Introduction) is president and senior fellow of New Saint Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho. Quentin J. Schultze (Preface) is the Arthur H. DeKruyter chair and professor of communication at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


Smith has unearthed a gem of media history. — Dr. Stephen Perry, editor of Mass Communication and Society and Professor of Communication, Illinois State U

Thoroughly analyzes the context within which journalism's version of 'John Henry' was played out with nary a witness. Harrington's character is revealed humanly with neither romanticism nor cynicism. — Dr. Richard K. Olsen, Chair, Communication Studies, U of North Carolina, Wilmington

A well-researched and well-written story of a little-known but compelling aspect of the history of journalism, an ode to handwriting as a unique form of communication and a fascinating case study. — Dr. Elliot King, Professor of Communication, Loyola U Maryland

Smith explores Harrington the reporter, poet, political commentator, and wit, illuminating a corner of Civil War era North Carolina that few have visited. — Dr. John P. Ferre', Associate Dean of Arts & Sciences, U of Louisville

Smith's careful reading of North Carolina's freehand publisher extends our understanding of how the news got out in a time of unparalleled national peril. — Dr. Bruce J. Evensen, Director, MA in Journalism Program, DePaul U

This wonderfully written story captures Harrington as a citizen journalist, aggregator, poet, politico, and scribe. It will be of lively interest to historians of communication, newspapers, the Civil War, and Southern culture. — Dr. James T. Hamilton, Charles S. Sydnor Professor of Public Policy, and Director, DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy, Duke U

A fascinating and comprehensively documented discussion of North Carolina newspapers handwritten by a maverick, Civil War era journalist. Smith perceptively analyzes the underappreciated value of print journalism without a printing press. — Dr. Douglas S. Campbell, Lock Haven U of PA, author The Supreme Court and the Mass Media and Free Press v. Fair Trial

Highly readable and reveals a part of American journalism that needs to come to light. Harrington's free press shows the spirit of a vibrant medium with the power to shape America's future. — Dr. Dennis E. Hensley, Director, Professional Writing Division, Taylor U

The book shows that Harrington's papers are an early form of blogging and New Journalism which involved the readers in bridging the oral and literary traditions in the two-year prelude to the Civil War. — Dr. Paul Alfred Alf Pratte, Emeritus Professor of Journalism, Brigham Young U

Product Details

Smith, Michael Ray
Edenridge Press
Publication Date:

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » Calligraphy
Computers and Internet » Internet » Web » Blogs
History and Social Science » Journalism » Journalists
History and Social Science » Sociology » Media

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