One of the most dramatic stories of a correspondent covering a battle in the Civil War is that of George Smalley of the New York Tribune and his adventure in getting his description of the battle of Antietam back to New York. Smalley’s first accounts of the 1862 battle were read by President Abraham Lincoln before they got to New York — simply because they were sent by the telegraph operator to the wrong place. But that mistake was small potatoes to what Smalley had to endure during the next few days.
Communication and journalism were changed by the increase in speed in the 19th century — particularly the invention of the telegraph. Few scientific developments have changed life for everyone so radically.
Even if history teachers have stopped making students memorize dates, journalism teachers shouldn’t. Dates are important for a full understanding of events, and students should have precise knowledge of the important events in American and world history. The list of dates on this web site, adapted from The Complete Editor, is a good place for the student to begin acquiring this knowledge. Once the students have studied this list, they will be ready to tackle the two crossword puzzles contained on this site. You can download these puzzles as HTML or PDF files. (Posted Jan. 10, 2005)
One hundred years ago, reasonable people — both men and women — disagreed on these and other questions that today we would consider absurd and ludicrous. And therein lies a problem — a problem we constantly have with our history.