"Across the Continent … and Still the Republic!" : Inscribing Nationhood in Samuel Bowles's Newspaper Letters of 1865
American Journalism Historians Association
On a trip across the continent in the summer of 1865, newspaper publisher Samuel Bowles recorded his experiences in a series of letters to the readers of his newspaper in Springfield, Massachusetts. Reprinted in newspapers across the country and collected later that year as Across the Continent: A Summer's Journey to the Rocky Mountains, the Mormons, and the Pacific States, with Speaker Colfax, Bowles's letters provide a view of the frontier and its people, as well as a discourse of nationalism. Building on a framework of epistolary journalism, and with theoretical models of nationalism in mind, this study explores how Across the Continent provided evidence of a new nationhood for the readers of 1865. It examines passages in which Bowles directly articulated a philosophy of nationhood as well as those passages in which he indirectly supported the work of ideological and economic nationbuilding through an exploration of landscape, a profile of the citizenry, and challenges to national sovereignty. It also discusses the ideological linchpin and guarantor of Bowles's philosophy of nation, the transcontinental railroad.