History ETDs

Publication Date



This dissertation follows the party battles of a political journalist, John W. Forney, through the Civil War era. More specifically, it explains how such a politician with winning personality and few scruples was able to gain favor and power. It traces his influence on ante-bellum factional and party alignments, especially in the Democratic party. The main emphasis, however, is upon the techniques of Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet members in their efforts to guide an important newspaper organ, Forney's Washington Chronicle. But such influence was reciprocated, and Forney's efforts to compel and wheedle advantages from the President and other members of his administration receive stress. There is an analysis of newspaper management: newsgathering, editorial policy and finance for the period of the Civil War. Finally, this dissertation considers the interplay of factional rivalries among the War Democrats, moderate Unionists and Radical Republicans of the Lincoln era, especially as they focused upon the personality of Forney. The psychological triumph of radicalism in Forney may be considered a case study of the rise of vindictive radicalism in the North.

Level of Degree


Degree Name


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

George Winston Smith

Second Committee Member

Frank Driver Reeve

Third Committee Member

William Miner Dabney



Document Type


Included in

History Commons