Suppression of Newspapers
Edward McPherson

August 16, 1861 - In the United States Circuit Court of New York the grand jury presented the Journal of Commerce, the Daily News, the Freemen's Journal, and the Brooklyn Eagle as aiders and abettors of treason, in terms following:

To the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York:

The Grand Inquest of the United States of America for the Southern District of New York beg leave to present the following facts to the Court and ask its advice thereon:

There are certain newspapers within this district which are in the frequent practice of encouraging the rebels now in arms against the Federal Government by expressing sympathy and agreement with them, the duty of acceding to their demands, and dissatisfaction with the employment of force to overcome them. These papers are the New York daily and weekly Journal of Commerce, the daily and weekly News, the daily and weekly Day-Book, the Freeman's Journal, all published in the city of New York, and the daily and weekly Eagle, published in the city of Brooklyn. The first named of these has just published a list of newspapers in the free States opposed to what it calls "the present unholy war" - a war in the defence of our country and its institutions, and our most sacred rights, and carried on solely for the restoration of the authority of the Government.

The Grand Jury are aware that free Governments allow liberty of speech and of the press to their utmost limit, but there is nevertheless a limit. If a person in a fortress or an army were to preach to the soldiers submission to the enemy he would be treated as an offender. Would he be more culpable than the citizen who, in the midst of the most formidable conspiracy and rebellion, tells the conspirators and rebels that they are right, encourages them to persevere in resistance, and condemns the effort of loyal citizens to overcome and punish them as an "unholy war?" If the utterance of such language in the streets or through the press is not a crime, then there is a great defect in our laws, or they were not made for such an emergency.

The conduct of these disloyal presses is of course condemned and abhorred by all loyal men; but the Grand Jury will be glad to learn from the Court that it is also subject to indictment and condign punishment.

All which is respectfully presented.

New York, August 16, 1861.
[Signed by all the Grand Jurors.]


Post Office Department, August 22, 1861.
SIR: The Postmaster General directs that from and after your receipt of this letter none of the newspapers published in New York city which were lately presented by the grand jury as dangerous, from their disloyalty, shall be fowarded in the mails.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
T. B. TROTT, Chief Clerk.
To the Postmaster, New York City.


Philadelphia, August 22 - On the arrival of the New York train this morning Marshal Millward, and his officers, examined all the bundles of papers and seized every copy of the New York Daily News. The sale of this paper is totally suppressed in this city. Marshal Millward also seized all the bundles of the Daily News at the Express offices of the West and South, including over one thousand copies for Louisville, and nearly five hundred copies for Baltimore, Washington, Alexandria, and Annapolis. The Marshal also took possession of the office of the Christian Observer in consequence of a late violent article on the "unholy war."


The Political History of the United States of America During The Great Rebellion
by Edward McPherson, Clerk of the House of Representatives, page 188
Philip & Solomons, New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1864