In today’s conversation with Robert E. May, Professor Emeritus of History, Purdue University, we will examine the America, Wallingford CT native son, Moses Yale Beach, who came of age in and influenced: The Antebellum Era: From the War of 1812 to the Civil War.
To provide our listeners with some context, Moses Yale Beach, was born at the turn of the 19th century in January 1800 and died approximately 3 years after Lincoln was assassinated in 1868.
Professor May helps us understand this Antebellum Period of history, we know that our collective understanding continues to be transformed. Many recent works have contributed new insights into the years 1846 to 1848, the middle of Mr. Beach’s editorial control of the penny paper, The Sun.
There is a lot to unpack, indeed many books have been written. Let’s begin briefly with the War of 1812 and America’s victory over the British, starting with the economic and political forces of the time which may have influenced the imaginings of a young man seeking independence from an agrarian life.
How would you characterize what some have described as a period of entrepreneurial spirit?
Can you comment on the politics of the period (statesmen like Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and John Calhoun) and the attempt to find legislative solutions to the divisive issue of slavery?
You have been a trendsetter in looking at what was happening elsewhere to understand America.
Why is a global perspective important especially as it relates to America’s expansion?
Mr. Beach was literally involved in the Mexican War, also known as Mexican-American War. What do you know of his involvement and can you comment on his worldview?
In addition to being immersed in the peacemaking of the U.S.-Mexican War, Moses Yale Beach played a possibly even more significant role in U.S. attempts to acquire Cuba from Spain. Could you elaborate on this less-known facet of Beach's colorful career?"
You have written about Jane Cazneau, also known as Jane Storm, the most prolific female journalist on US foreign policy during the antebellum. She was not lacking in self-confidence and your work reveals the study of a woman who fearlessly defied the Separate Spheres ideology of the time that sought to keep women framed within the house or home, the domestic.
We have encountered an 1846 quote attributed to her that reads, “I can and do control over half of the entire daily circulation [of the New York Sun] and from my position thus hold the balance of opinion on any man or measure.” This is certainly an intriguing and provocative quote. Firstly, how does the quote strike you and secondly, could you elaborate on her connection to MY Beach?
Finally, is it somewhat tragic that despite improvements in news coverage from the founding of the AP onwards, and that important legacy, we seem to be stuck, more than ever, in ecosystems of slanted news coverage (what used to be called post-truth) to the point of unreality?