Date Awarded


Document Type

Dissertation -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Studies


Elizabeth Barnes


The New York Ledger (1844 -1903) was one of the most popular periodicals in nineteenth-century America. In the tension between its business strategies and the policy advocacy on its editorial page, it embodied the nation's transition from market to industrial capitalism. Publisher Robert Bonner attempted to bridge competing economic systems when he signed exclusive, long-term, lucrative contracts with his authors. at the same time, the editorial page promoted industrialization and modernization-strategies at odds with Bonner's economics of loyalty.;In the pages of the paper and in his interactions with authors, Bonner enacted a very human form of business that cloaked the dehumanizing impact of capital aggregation, mass production, and the alienation of the producer from his product in the language of sentiment. Fiction by the Ledger writers, who were themselves beneficiaries of the economics of loyalty, often developed a new syntax of business. In this way, the Ledger's fiction, non-fiction, and business and editorial practices commented on the process of economic change occurring in America in the nineteenth century.;In contrast with the few scholars who have written about the Ledger who discuss Bonner as either a "gentleman publisher" or a cold capitalist exploiting his writers, I see the Ledger's sentimental business strategies as an intermediate developmental step. However, the paper lost its share of the market because it could not compete in the increasingly impersonal world of late nineteenth-century publishing. Understanding the paper's business practices and narrative strategies has implications for apprehending the reach of sentimentalism, the application of industrial capitalism to the artistic marketplace, and the changes to ideal masculinity over the course of the nineteenth century.



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