July 6, 1865: The First Issue of ‘The Nation’ Is Published

July 6, 1865: The First Issue of ‘The Nation’ Is Published

July 6, 1865: The First Issue of ‘The Nation’ Is Published

“The week has been singularly barren of exciting events.”


The Nation began publication with what must be one of the dullest sentences ever to open a periodical, much less an inaugural issue. The usual move would be to demonstrate for readers and advertisers that the magazine will be a must-read. The editors of this publication, evidently, wanted to make the point that they would never trump up non-events as significant or newsworthy when they were not, that they would always place fidelity to the news itself, both in terms of accuracy of the stories and the proportionality of their significance, above appealing to a vast audience. And so began the first item in the three-page section of news-blurbs that led off the magazine:

The week has been singularly barren of exciting events. It is curious to see, however, what a stimulus the return of peace has given to political agitation. As nothing is now dependent on the fortune of the war, orators and writers are entering the arena with a confidence which they never displayed as long as their argument and predictions were liable to reversion at the hands of Lee or Grant.

It is worth noting that this sentence was followed a few lines later by a similar one: “The news from Europe is unimportant.” This coming week, 150 years later, that will certainly not be true.

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