When political upstart Abraham Lincoln challenged Stephen A. Douglas, the Democratic stalwart, for his U.S. Senate seat in Illinois in 1858, the campaign resulted in the Lincoln-Douglas debates — seven meetings of the candidates that became the most famous discussion in American political history. The first debate occurred in Ottawa, Illinois, on August 21, 1858, almost exactly 160 years ago.
Two days after that debate, newspaper readers were able to read almost every word that was uttered during those three hours that were given to each of the debates.
With no modern recording devices at hand for journalists to use, how did this happen?
The answer lies with three now-forgotten journalists: Robert Roberts Hitt (The Chicago Press and Tribune), and Henry Binmore, and James Sheridan (The Chicago Times). They were the pioneers of a new method of reporting called “phonographic reporting,” according to historian Harold Holzer, who edited and wrote the introduction for The Lincoln-Douglas Debates: The First Complete, Unexpurgated Text.
In other words, the reporters used short-hand. Both sides set up a system whereby the reporters’ short-hand could be transcribed and published as quickly as possible after each debate. Holzer writes:
The Lincoln-Douglas debates were the first sustained political encounter to inspire so-called “phonographic” reporting, and in this milestone lay the key to their early and enduring fame, as well as their ultimate distortion. (p. 10)
Holzer gives credit to the reporters for being thoroughly professional and noting what Lincoln and Douglas said as best they could. But the readers of the Press and Tribune, a Republican (Lincoln) newspaper, often read a different version of the speeches from those printed in the Times and other Democratic (Douglas) newspapers. That’s because the partisanship of the editors led them to clean up the language and syntax of the candidate they favored and to leave intact the garbled ramblings of their opponent. Their actions set off a century-and-a-half debate among scholars about who said what and how it was said.
In truth, neither candidate filled the air with profound truths or soaring rhetoric, and reading through the speeches today is a hard slog. It is better to read about the debates than to read the debates themselves.
Still, we have three journalists to thank for creating a near-perfect record of this most important event in the life of the Republic.
Warming a beekeeper’s heart: Bees Swarm Times Square Hot Dog Stand
Thousands of bees landed on the umbrella of a hotdog stand in Times Square, New York City, this week. It was enough to warm a beekeeper’s heart.
And who should come to the rescue but one of the Boys in Blue, a member of the New York City’s beekeeping squad.
The man of the hour was Officer Michael Lauriano, one of the Police Department’s beekeepers, who sucked up the insects with a large vacuum cleaner as a crowd of tourists craned their necks to see. The swarm briefly captivated Twitter in New York City, but such incidents are common enough that the Police Department keeps beekeepers on hand, who have their own verified Twitter page. Source: Bees Swarm Times Square Hot Dog Stand – The New York Times
Hives of bees are not uncommon in large urban areas such as the Big Apple.
And where you have hives, you’re bound to have swarms. That’s what bees do. Among apiarists, the term is “casting swarms.” That’s how bees reproduce.
Swarms are more likely to occur in the spring rather than late summer, but they are not unknown during this time of year. The weather has been unseasonably warm in the city.
Bees in a swarm are usually not aggressive and unlikely to sting unless provoked. The best thing to do is stay out of their way and observe one of the great miracles of nature.
I enjoyed your list of reasons one survey found why people buy books. The first three (1. The topic, subject, setting or style; 2. Read and enjoyed previous works by the author; 3. The book is available in the format I want) are not surprising. What is surprising are the low figures for seven through 17 (Recommendation by public figures and celebrities). I am not a bit surprised by #18 (Cover endorsements).
I resent space being used for various endorsements attributed to people whose names I generally don’t recognize. Endorsements don’t mean a hill of beans to many of us. I’d rather have a broader description of the story.
Regarding #7, reader book reviews, I don’t read them. If it’s a new (to me) author, it’s the thumbnail sketch or description that informs me about whether I’ll enjoy the book or not. Once I start reading, I’ve got to be hooked by the story by page ten; otherwise it gets deleted.
Self-publishing workshop at Blount County Public Library, Oct. 6, 2018
My duties and responsibilities as writer-in-residence at the Blount County Public Library (Maryville, Tennessee) continue to evolve. On the first Saturday of October, I will be offering a half-day workshop on getting started with self-publishing.
If you’re in the area and are interested in this topic, sign up here:
Here’s the description:
Introduction to Self-Publishing Details: ADVANCED REGISTRATION FORM WITH $10 FEE, LUNCH INCLUDED, FOR SESSION ON OCTOBER 6th, 2018
The workshop will be held Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Sharon Lawson Room. You will learn the basics of self-publishing in this half-day workshop conducted by Jim Stovall, the Blount County Public Library’s current writer-in-residence (www.jprof.com). The workshop will cover everything you need to know about getting started in the world of independent publishing and how to make your book available on Amazon, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and other book-selling forums. Advance online registration is required as is a $10 registration fee which includes a box lunch from the library’s Bookmark Café. Lunch is not optional, and lunch order options are on the registration form below. Seating is limited to 30. For more details, call Adult Services (Reference Desk) at 865-273-1428 or 865-982-0981, option 3.
Remember, the $10 fee includes lunch!
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