Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)



Advisor/Committee Chair

Laura Wittern-Keller, Ph. D.

Committee Member

Michitake Aso, Ph. D.


This paper addresses journalism in the Civil War by analyzing both Northern and Southern reporting. The severity of censorship changed throughout the duration of the war, with it less harsh in the Union by the end. Southern officials did not censor as much, both because their resources were scarcer, and their officials were more opposed to the use of censorship. While past historians have argued that the decrease in Northern censorship is because the Union began to have the upper hand in the war, I argue that the decrease in Union censorship was not only because the Union was now winning, but likely an early effort to begin the process of reconciling with an anti-censorship South. The goal early in the war for the North was to preserve the Union. Towards the end, officials realized this goal was now attainable. Similar acts were also performed by Union officials; most famously Grant’s refusal to take Lee’s sword and his orders to his men not to celebrate and cheer for the defeat of the Confederates, who were now their own countrymen once again. The paper uses secondary sources on Civil War journalism as well as newspaper articles from the North and South to discuss the topic through three events that cover the beginning, middle, and end of the war.