Reconstruction Recovery

At war’s end, Georgia faced physical destruction, financial turmoil, and federal occupation. Publishers that managed to resume printing in the late 1860s faced censorship and sometimes closure for their opposition to Reconstruction. Newspapers aligned with the Republican Party, however, thrived in this environment. With support from the government, pro-Reconstruction publishers established newspapers in most of Georgia’s major cities, including the Daily Press in Augusta and the Daily New Era in Atlanta. When the Democratic Party regained control of the state government in the 1870s, Georgia’s newspaper publishers were once again free to exert editorial reign over their publications, and many of the Republican-aligned papers ceased operations. In the mid-1870s, Atlanta newspaperman Henry Grady emerged as the "spokesman of the New South," an invigorated region that sought to lure northern investment and industry to an economy that had long been dominated by agrarian interests. As managing editor of the Atlanta Constitution, Grady advanced a pro-industrial agenda and promoted Atlanta as an ideal city for industrial growth. His advocacy resulted in the establishment of the Georgia Institute of Technology in the late 1880s, and the city hosted several expositions to promote industrial investment in the decades that followed, including the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition where Booker T. Washington delivered his “Atlanta Compromise” speech. Grady’s “New South” was also a vision of white supremacy, however, and if African Americans wanted a voice in the burgeoning state, they would have to challenge the establishment, including the white-owned print journalism industry.