Throughout the Civil War, the influence of the popular press and its skillful use of propaganda was extremely significant in Kentucky. Union and Confederate sympathizers were scattered throughout the border slave state, and in 1860, at least twenty-eight of the commonwealth's approximately sixty newspapers were pro-Confederate, making the secessionist cause seem stronger in Kentucky than it was in reality. In addition, the impact of these "rebel presses" reached beyond the region to readers throughout the nation.
In this compelling and timely study, Berry Craig analyzes the media's role in both reflecting and shaping public opinion during a critical time in US history. Craig begins by investigating the 1860 secession crisis, which occurred at a time when most Kentuckians considered themselves ardent Unionists in support of the state's political hero, Henry Clay. But as secessionist arguments were amplified throughout the country, so were the voices of pro-Confederate journalists in the state. By January 1861, the Hickman Courier, Columbus Crescent, and Henderson Reporter steadfastly called for Kentucky to secede from the Union.
Kentucky's Rebel Press also showcases journalists who supported the Confederate cause, including editor Walter N. Haldeman, who fled the state after Kentucky's most recognized Confederate paper, the Louisville Daily Courier, was shut down by Union forces. Exploring an intriguing and overlooked part of Civil War history, this book reveals the importance of the partisan press to the Southern cause in Kentucky.
"Anyone who wants to walk through the history of Kentucky in the secessionist period will be rewarded with a unique view of that turbulent time." -- David Hawpe, former editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal
"Craig's study certainly does serve a very useful purpose as a history of Kentucky's pro-Confederate press and its decidedly unsuccessful campaign to take the Bluegrass State out of the Union." -- Civil War Books and Authors
"Undergraduates, graduates, and faculty who are interested in journalism in Kentucky during the Civil War should be encouraged to read this book." -- Choice
"Craig's writing is skillful and engaging. Given the current political climate, which does seem to contain echoes of the Civil War era, Kentucky's Rebel Press is a necessary and timely work that provides much‐needed historical perspective on the hyper-politicized interpretations of current events by today's partisan media outlets." -- H-Net Reviews
"Craig's work ably fills a notable void in Civil War scholarship, and readers will enjoy his elegant and often amusing treatment of his subject." -- Civil War Book Review