Peter Porcupine's nasty political press lived up to its name
ANN ARBOR—The current exhibit at the University of Michigan's Clements Library bears witness to the price of popular government where the political process includes exaggeration, misrepresentation and vicious personal attacks.
"'Peter Porcupine': Nasty Political Press in the New Republic, 1793-1800" documents the political writings by Englishman William Cobbett, spending his eight years in America writing under the name of Peter Porcupine. As demonstrated by this exhibit, Cobbett was a founder of the American political press.
As the Federalist and Republican parties began to develop their identities and draw their battle lines, Cobbett drew upon the controversy fueled by the intense rivalry between Hamilton and Jefferson within Washington's first Cabinet to fill his sensational magazine, the Political Censor, and to create The Porcupine Gazette, for a brief period the most widely read newspaper in the country. Based in Philadelphia the Gazette began as a weekly but in less than six months grew to a daily with 3,000 subscribers. A special edition known as the Country Porcupine sold widely outside the city.
"'Peter Porcupine': Nasty Political Press in the New Republic, 1793-1800" continues 12-4:45 p.m. weekdays through