Is it me, or is Harper’s Weekly just sucking up to Stanton? Maybe a little insurance that Harper’s won’t get censored?
SATURDAY, MAY 17, 1862.
THE CENSORSHIP OF THE
WE have reason to believe that our subscribers in the army at Yorktown, and the gallant officers and soldiers to whom we have the pleasure of sending complimentary copies of Harper’s Weekly, will receive this Number safely, and that their property will not be interfered with on the way, either at Fortress Monroe or elsewhere.
We need hardly remark that seizures of this journal at particular points involve no pecuniary injury to us. Not a single copy of Harper’s Weekly goes to Fortress Monroe, for instance, which has not been paid for in advance, with the exception of copies which we send gratuitously to regiments, officers, or soldiers in the army. To seize this journal, therefore, is merely to rob our gallant troops of property which belongs to them.
A censorship of the press is one of the temporary inconveniences which the present unexampled rebellion has involved. At the outbreak of the war there were throughout the North journals conducted by unprincipled men which were prepared deliberately to afford aid and comfort to the enemy. Ever since then there have been journals which, without the excuse of rebel sympathies, have been willing to betray strategical secrets, in order to outstrip their rivals in the publication of military and naval intelligence. The only means of checking the one and the other was a press censorship, and it is to the credit of Mr. LINCOLN that he did not hesitate to establish it.
We cheerfully bear testimony to the sagacity and forbearance which have been generally displayed by the Hon. EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War, and Colonel E. S. SANFORD, Military Supervisor of Telegraphs, in the exercise of the abnormal powers with which they have been invested in regard to the press.
It could not be expected that an exercise of power so foreign to our usages and our political system could be established without occasional errors. and some injustice. It is often so difficult to draw the line between legitimate and contraband news that honest publishers were liable to contravene the rules of war unwittingly; while, on the other hand, the duties devolved upon the censor, in consequence of the immense number of journals published in the loyal States, and the keen appetite of the public for news, were so overwhelming that a zealous officer might readily make mistakes without rendering himself fairly liable to censure.
Where the duties of the censorship have been confided to subordinate officers, such errors have naturally been more frequent than where Colonel SANFORD has discharged those functions in person. A man may be an excellent officer without understanding the principles of journalism, or without apprehending the actual amount of information conveyed to the enemy by a newspaper article or a newspaper illustration. It gives us pleasure to add that the most grateful and not the least useful functions performed by Colonel SANFORD have been the mitigation and removal of restrictions laid upon the press by subordinate officers of the army who have filled the post of Provost Marshal at various points.
We have every reason to believe that the Secretary of War, the Hon. EDWIN M. STANTON, is discharging the duties of his most onerous station with a single eye to the suppression of the rebellion, and with a whole-souled devotion to the interest of the Union. It gives us pleasure to add that he is ably and heartily seconded in this purpose by Colonel SANFORD, whose office, though naturally ungrateful, has been, in his hands, so administered as to secure for him the gratitude and respect of journalists and the public at large.