|Categories||Literature, Gymnastics, New England, England, Art, Theatre, Politics, Utilitarianism, Women's Rights|
|Frequency||Weekly (January 1, 1828 – July 3, 1829)|
Monthly (July–December 1829)
|First issue||January 1, 1828|
|Final issue||December 1829|
|Based in||Portland, Maine, US|
The Yankee (later retitled The Yankee and Boston Literary Gazette) was one of the first cultural publications in the US, founded and edited by John Neal (1793–1876), and published in Portland, Maine from the beginning of 1828 through the end of 1829. Unique at the time for independent journalism, Neal used creative control of the magazine to improve his social status, help establish the American gymnastics movement, cover national politics, and critique American literature, art, theatre, and social issues.
Many new, predominantly female writers and editors started their careers with contributions and criticism of their work published in The Yankee, including some who are still familiar to modern readers. Essays by Neal on American art and theatre anticipated major changes and movements in those fields realized in the following decades. The articles on women's rights and early feminist ideas affirmed intellectual equality between men and women and demanded political and economic rights for women. Conflicting opinions published in The Yankee on the cultural identity of Maine and New England presented readers with a complex portrait of the region.
The magazine's greatest impact was uplifting new authors through publication and criticism by Neal of their early works. It began as a weekly publication and later converted to a longer, monthly format. Its two-year run concluded at the end of 1829.
When John Neal returned to his native Portland, Maine, from London in 1827, he was confronted by community members who were offended by Neal's literary work in the preceding years: the unsympathetic depiction of his hometown in his semi-autobiographical novel Errata (1823), the way he depicted New England dialect and customs in his novel Brother Jonathan (1825), and his criticism of American writers in Blackwood's Magazine (1824–1825). Residents posted inflammatory broadsides calling Neal "a panderer for scandal against the country that nourished him" and a "renegado" who "basely traduced his native town and country for hire". Residents also engaged with Neal in verbally and physically violent exchanges in the streets and conspired to block his admission to the local bar association, though he had been a practicing lawyer in Baltimore (1820–1823). Shortly after joining the bar despite opposition and opening Maine's first gymnasium, Neal established The Yankee at the start of 1828 in part to vindicate himself to his local community.
The idea came from a local bookseller who urged Neal shortly after his return to Portland to establish a new magazine or newspaper. Neal initially refused, not wanting to be the financial backer of his own literary undertaking. The bookseller then offered to publish the periodical and to pay Neal $500[a] a year in books and stationary to serve as editor, which Neal accepted. Subscription to the new weekly magazine cost $3 a year, or $2.50 paid in advance.
The Yankee was one of the country's first cultural publications and Maine's first literary periodical. Controversial at the time for its lack of association with any political party or interest group, it was a precursor for the independent American press that was established later in the century. When asked why he would establish such a magazine outside a major city, Neal said, "We mean to publish in Portland. Whatever the people of New-York, or Boston or Philadelphia or Baltimore might say, Portland is the place for us."
an odd newspaper, then racy, lively, and flourishing, which every body was reading, and of which every body was speaking—a newspaper that meddled with every thing, gossiped in every thing from church to state, from the tallest tome, no matter how thick, down to the smallest affairs, of tokens and souvenirs and lady-actress's feet—of poets and dogs, of paintings and side-walks, of Bentham and Jeffrey, and sleigh-rides and huskings,[b] of politics and religion, and "courting" and "blackberrying." In short, the newspaper was one of the strangest ones ever heard of.
The magazine functioned to educate Americans about England, spread Jeremy Bentham-inspired utilitarian philosophy, publish literary contributions, and critique American literature, art, theatre, politics, and social issues. The magazine also aided in establishing the US gymnastics movement, provided a forum for new writers, and promoted Neal's own accomplishments. Due to its high proportion of Neal's own work, Neal's unique editorial choices, and his habit of using its pages to play out feuds with other public figures, "no magazine ever bore more fully the stamp of a personality." Other authors published in the magazine included Chief Justice of Maine John Appleton (first published work), John Greenleaf Whittier, Edgar Allan Poe, Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Albert Pike, Grenville Mellen, and Isaac Ray.
The Yankee's greatest impact was uplifting new authors through publication and criticism by Neal of their early works. Edgar Allan Poe, John Greenleaf Whittier, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow all received their "first substantial sponsorship or praise" in its pages. Most of the new authors whose careers started in The Yankee were women, including Elizabeth Oakes Smith and others lesser known to history.
The Yankee is credited with having "discovered" Poe and influenced the younger writer's style with the magazine's essays. Poe considered Neal's September 1829 review of the poem "Fairy-Land" to be "the very first words of encouragement I ever remember to have heard". Poe became a contributor to the Ladies' Magazine shortly afterward – a relationship that may have been orchestrated by Neal. Whittier sought Neal's opinion in the magazine at a turning point in the poet's career, saying when he submitted a poem that "if you don't like it, say so privately; and I will quit poetry, and everything also of a literary nature, for I am sick at heart of the business." In what may be the first review of Hawthorne's first novel, The Yankee referred to Fanshawe as "powerful and pathetic" and said that the author "should be encouraged to persevering efforts by a fair prospect of future success". An 1828 review of Longfellow noted "a fine genius and a pure and safe taste" but also cited the need for "a little more energy, and a little more stoutness".
John Neal was the first American art critic. Scholars find his work in the novel Randolph (1823), Blackwood's Magazine (1824), and The Yankee to be the most historically important, in which he discussed leading American artists and their work "with unprecedented acumen and enthusiasm". The essay "Landscape and Portrait-Painting" (September 1829) anticipated John Ruskin's groundbreaking Modern Painters (1843) by distinguishing between "things seen by the artist" and "things as they are", as Ruskin put it more famously fourteen years later. In Neal's words in 1829, "There is not a landscape nor a portrait painter alive who dares to paint what he sees as he sees it; nor probably a dozen with power to see things as they are."
Neal's essays in The Yankee about landscape painting and its potential role in America's artistic renaissance anticipate the rise of the Hudson River School and provide early coverage (1828) of its founders, Thomas Doughty, Asher Brown Durand, and Thomas Cole. These essays also offer unprecedented coverage of reproduction technology like engraving and lithography and American portrait painters trained in the "humbler contingencies" of sign painting and applied arts. Neal's opinions on art in The Yankee "to a remarkable degree ... have stood the trying test of time."
At the time The Yankee was in circulation, John Neal was one of the most important critics of American drama. His serial essay "The Drama" (July–December 1829) elaborates upon opinions on theatre originally published in the prefaces to his first play, Otho (1819) and his second poetry collection, The Battle of Niagara: Second Edition (1819). The essay dismissed well-accepted Shakespearean standards and outlined a prophesy for the future American drama that largely played out by the end of the century. Neal predicted that characters would become more relatable by expressing feelings "in common language" because "when a person talks beautifully in his sorrow, it shows both great preparation and insincerity." Instead of relying on highly cultivated circumstances in the plot, "The incidents will be such as every man may hope or dread to see ...; for it is there, and there only, that we can judge of a hero, or of a nation, or sympathize with either." This "thorough revolution in plays and players, authors and actors" called for in "The Drama" was still in process 60 years later when William Dean Howells was considered innovative for saying the same thing.
The Yankee documented and offered commentary upon the period's nationally relevant social and political topics, such as the Nullification crisis, Tariff of Abominations, Andrew Jackson's spoils system, lotteries, temperance, women's rights, and the Maine-New Brunswick border issues that led to the Aroostook War. He published a "vigorous campaign" of seventeen articles against lotteries over the course of 1828, claiming they encourage idle and reckless behavior among patrons. On a local level, Neal's advocacy in The Yankee contributed toward municipal funding being designated for the construction of Portland, Maine's first sidewalks.
In March 1828, Neal advertised his gymnasium in The Yankee as "accessible here to every body, without distinction of age or color", but when he sponsored six Black men to join, only three members[c] of 300 voted to accept them. In May, Neal lashed out in his magazine:
The Gymnics of Portland, being called together for the purpose, have voted that colored people are not "persons," and that these words in their constitution "all persons of cleanly habits and good behavior are admitted" means that no colored man, however light colored he be, however well-behaved, or well-educated, can be permitted to exercise with white citizens of our free and equal-community. Hurra for New-England! We have no prejudices here—None but wholesome prejudices, at any rate.
Neal's writing on gender and women's rights in The Yankee show his focus moving beyond inter-gender social manners and female educational opportunities and toward women's economic and political rights. In the January 1, 1829 issue he asserted that unmarried women are treated unfairly "as if it were better for a woman to marry anybody than not to marry at all; or even to marry one that was not her selected and preferred of all than to go unmarried to her grave." "Rights of Women" (March 5, 1829) includes some of the "angriest and most assertive feminist claims" of his career, saying of coverture and suffrage that
The truth is, that women are not citizens here; they pay taxes without being represented ...; if they are represented, it is by those whose interest, instead of being included in theirs, is directly opposed to theirs ...; they are not eligible to office; and they are not, nor is their property protected at law. So much for the equality of the sexes here ....
The solution, which he offered in "Woman" (March 26, 1828), is female solidarity and organizing to secure economic and political rights: "If woman would act with woman, there would be a stop to our tyranny". The Yankee also promoted female editors like Sarah Josepha Hale and Frances Harriet Whipple Green McDougall, and proclaimed the example of economic freedom these women provided: "We hope to see the day when she-editors will be as common as he-editors; and when our women of all ages ... will be able to maintain herself, without being obliged to marry for bread."
In other articles, The Yankee affirmed intellectual equality between men and women, opining that "When minds meet, all distinctions of sex are abolished" and "women are not inferior to men; they are unlike men. They cannot do all that men may do — any more than men may do all that women may do."
Editor John Neal held his native Maine and New England in high regard, claiming in the third issue of The Yankee that "Her magnitude, her resources, and her character, we believe, are neither appreciated nor understood by the chief men" and "great mass of the American people."  To correct this, he published articles written by himself and others detailing the region's unique customs, traditions, and speech, particularly the series "Live Yankees" (March–June 1828), "New England As It Was" (March–November 1828), and "New England As It Is" (March–November 1828). He juxtaposed articles by separate authors with conflicting views and inserted his own editorial footnotes into others' essays to encourage discourse over the region's identity. In contrast to most American regionalist works later in the century that sentimentally posed rural traditions in conflict with America's urbanization, The Yankee presented the country's regions as "future-oriented spaces whose identities would—and should—remain elusive".
The first volume of The Yankee (1828) documents literary feuds between Neal and other New England journalists like William Lloyd Garrison, Francis Ormand Jonathan Smith, and Joseph T. Buckingham. Tensions between Neal and Garrison started with Garrison's denunciation of Neal's literary criticism in Blackwood's Magazine (1824–1825) as a "renegade's base attempt to assassinate the reputation of this country" and continued with Neal's claim in The Yankee that Garrison was fired from his editorial position for attacking Neal in the paper. Journalist and historian Edward H. Elwell characterized Neal's willingness to publish these inflammatory back-and-forth letters and essays as the embodiment of "impulsive honesty and fair play". Neal stopped after receiving complaints from subscribers, which he also published in the magazine.
Run of publication
The Yankee published regularly from the beginning of 1828 through the end of 1829, during which time the magazine changed its name, printing format, frequency, and volume numbering system. Volumes 1 and 2 (January 1, 1828 through July 3, 1829) are composed of eight-page weekly issues in quarto. New series volume 1 (July through December 1829) is composed of six, 56-page monthly issues in octavo. For financial reasons, Neal merged The Yankee with a Boston periodical and changed the name to The Yankee and Boston Literary Gazette, starting August 20, 1828 (volume 1, number 34).
When The Yankee ceased publication at the end of 1829, it merged with the Ladies' Magazine. The common misconception that it merged with the New England Galaxy is based on a misinterpretation of a passage in Neal's autobiography.
- $500 in 1828 was approximately equal to about a year and a half's wages for a laborer at the time and is approximately equal to $11,783 in present terms.
- A husking bee is a traditional American harvest celebration centered around the harvesting of corn and removal of its husks.
- The three members were John Neal, Neal Dow, and one other local Quaker.
- Lease 1972, pp. 123–124.
- Lease 1972, p. 124, illustrations 6 and 7.
- Neal 1869, pp. 326–329.
- Neal 1869, pp. 330–331.
- Richards 1933, p. 576.
- Barnes 1984, p. 47.
- Sears 1978, p. 112.
- Wright 1889, p. 54.
- 1634 to 1699: Harris, P. (1996). "Inflation and Deflation in Early America, 1634–1860: Patterns of Change in the British American Economy". Social Science History. 20 (4): 469–505. JSTOR 1171338. 1700-1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How much is that in real money?: a historical price index for use as a deflator of money values in the economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 1, 2020.
- Neal 1869, p. 336.
- Elwell 1877, p. 26.
- Nicoll 2002.
- Elwell 1877, p. 29.
- Holt 2012, p. 188, quoting "North American Stories" (March 5, 1828).
- Neal 1869, pp. 341–342.
- Brooks 1833, p. 69.
- Richards 1933, p. 629.
- Barry 1979, p. 2D.
- Sears 1978, pp. 111–112.
- Richards 1933, p. 578.
- Pollard 1943, p. 185.
- Neal 1869, p. 337.
- Lease 1972, p. 129.
- Sears 1978, p. 113.
- Fleischmann 1983, p. 145.
- Lease 1972, pp. 131–132.
- Sears 1978, p. 114, quoting Edgar Allan Poe.
- Richards 1933, p. 766n1.
- Sears 1978, p. 113, quoting John Greenleaf Whittier.
- Lease 1972, p. 133, quoting an 1828 review.
- Lease 1972, p. 134, quoting "More Portland Poetry".
- Sears 1978, p. 118; Dickson 1943, p. ix.
- Dickson 1943, p. iii.
- Dickson 1943, p. ix.
- Orestano 2012, pp. 137–138, quoting John Ruskin
- Richards 1933, p. 601, quoting "Landscape and Portrait-Painting".
- Orestano 2012, p. 135–136.
- Orestano 2012, pp. 135, 141.
- Orestano 2012, p. 133.
- Orestano 2012, pp. 133, 139.
- Dickson 1943, p. xxii.
- Meserve 1986, p. 23.
- Richards 1933, p. 625.
- Richards 1933, pp. 627–628.
- Richards 1933, p. 628, quoting "The Drama".
- Meserve 1986, p. 24, quoting "The Drama".
- Richards 1933, pp. 627–628, quoting "The Drama".
- Meserve 1986, p. 25, quoting "The Drama".
- Meserve 1986, pp. 24–25.
- Richards 1933, pp. 629–630.
- Richards 1933, pp. 630–631.
- Richards 1933, p. 636.
- Barry 1979, p. 2D, quoting Neal's article (March 9, 1828).
- Neal 1869, pp. 334–335.
- Sears 1978, p. 110.
- Price & Talbot 2006, pp. 190–192, quoting "Gymnasia" (May 14, 1828).
- Weyler 2012, pp. 236–237; Fleischmann 1983, p. 180.
- Fleischmann 1983, p. 174, quoting "To Correspondents".
- Weyler 2012, p. 239.
- Fleischmann 1983, pp. 174–175, quoting "Rights of Women".
- Fleischmann 1983, pp. 168, 177.
- Fleischmann 1983, p. 168, quoting "Mrs. Sarah J. Hale" (January 16, 1828).
- Fleischmann 1983, pp. 177–179, quoting "Female Education" (June 18, 1829).
- Fleischmann 1983, p. 176, quoting Neal's April 30, 1829 editorial comment on a submitted letter.
- Holt 2012, p. 188, quoting "Affairs of Maine" (January 16, 1828).
- Holt 2012, pp. 190–192.
- Holt 2012, pp. 185–187, 196–199.
- Holt 2012, p. 203.
- Richards 1933, pp. 584–590.
- Brennan 2014, p. 50, quoting William Lloyd Garrison in the Newburyport Herald.
- Garrison & Garrison 1885, pp. 99–100.
- Elwell 1877, p. 28.
- Richards 1933, pp. 588–591.
- Richards 1933, pp. 581–582.
- Holt 2012, p. 187.
- Richards 1933, p. 582.
- Barnes, Albert F. (1984). Greater Portland Celebration 350. Portland, Maine: Guy Gannett Publishing Co. ISBN 9780930096588.
- Barry, William D. (May 20, 1979). "State's Father of Athletics a Multi-Faceted Figure". Maine Sunday Telegram. Portland, Maine. pp. 1D–2D.
- Brennan, Dennis (2014). The Making of an Abolitionist: William Lloyd Garrison's Path to Publishing the Liberator. Jefferson, North Carolina: MacFarland. ISBN 9781476615356.
- Brooks, James (August 31, 1833). "Letters from the East—John Neal". New-York Mirror. Vol. 11 no. 1833–1834. New York, New York: G.P. Morris. pp. 69–70, 69–70, 76–77, 84–85, 92–93, 100–101, 109, 117–118. (A serial biography of Neal).CS1 maint: postscript (link)
- Dickson, Harold Edward (1943). Observations on American Art: Selections from the Writings of John Neal (1793-1876). State College, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State College. OCLC 775870.
- DiMercurio, Catherine C., ed. (2018). Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism: Criticism of the Works of Novelists, Philosophers, and Other Creative Writers Who Died between 1800 and 1899, from the First Published Critical Appraisals to Current Evaluations. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale, A Cengage Company. ISBN 9781410378514.
- Elwell, Edward H. (1877). "Historical Sketches: Cumberland County". In Wood, Joseph (ed.). Fourteenth Annual Report of the Proceedings of the Maine Press Association, for the Year 1877. Portland, Maine: Brown Thurston & Co. pp. 22–31. OCLC 7158022. Source url includes multiple separate publications bundled together.CS1 maint: postscript (link)
- Fleischmann, Fritz (1983). A Right View of the Subject: Feminism in the Works of Charles Brockden Brown and John Neal. Erlangen, Germany: Verlag Palm & Enke Erlangen. ISBN 9783789601477.
- Garrison, Wendell Phillips; Garrison, Francis Jackson (1885). William Lloyd Garrison, 1805-1879: The Story of His Life Told by His Children. 1. New York, New York: The Century Co.
- Holt, Kerin (2012). "Chapter 9: Here, There, and Everywhere: The Elusive Regionalism of John Neal". John Neal and Nineteenth Century American Literature and Culture. pp. 185–208. In Watts & Carlson (2012).
- Lease, Benjamin (1972). That Wild Fellow John Neal and the American Literary Revolution. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226469690.
- Meserve, Walter J. (1986). Heralds of Promise: The Drama of the American People During the Age of Jackson 1829-1849. New York, New York: Greenwood Press. ISBN 9780313250156.
- Neal, John (1869). Wandering Recollections of a Somewhat Busy Life. Boston, Massachusetts: Roberts Brothers. OCLC 1056818562.
- Nicoll, Jessica (2002). ""The Real Pioneer of Art in this City": Charles Codman and the Rise of Landscape Painting in Portland, Maine". Charles Codman: The Landscape of Art and Culture in 19th-Century Maine. Portland, Maine: Portland Museum of Art. ISBN 0916857328.
- Orestano, Francesca (2012). "Chapter 6: John Neal, the Rise of the Critick, and the Rise of American Art". John Neal and Nineteenth Century American Literature and Culture. pp. 123–144. In Watts & Carlson (2012).
- Pollard, John A. (1943) [Originally published in Bulletin of Friends Historical Association, vol. 32, no. 1. pp. 5–12]. "John Neal, Doctor of American Literature". Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism: Criticism of the Works of Novelists, Philosophers, and Other Creative Writers Who Died between 1800 and 1899, from the First Published Critical Appraisals to Current Evaluations. pp. 184–188. In DiMercurio (2018).
- Price, H. H.; Talbot, Gerald E. (2006). "Sports". In Price, H. H.; Talbot, Gerald (eds.). Maine's Visible Black History: The First Chronicle of Its People. Gardiner, Maine: Tilbury House. pp. 190–192. ISBN 9780884482758.
- Richards, Irving T. (1933). The Life and Works of John Neal (PhD). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University. OCLC 7588473.
- Sears, Donald A. (1978). John Neal. Boston, Massachusetts: Twayne Publishers. ISBN 9780805772302.
- Watts, Edward; Carlson, David J., eds. (2012). John Neal and Nineteenth Century American Literature and Culture. Lewisburg, Pennsylvania: Bucknell University Press. ISBN 9781611484205.
- Weyler, Karen A. (2012). "Chapter 11: John Neal and the Early Discourse of American Women's Rights". John Neal and Nineteenth Century American Literature and Culture. pp. 227–246. In Watts & Carlson (2012).
- Wright, Carroll D. (1889). Comparative Wages, Prices, and Cost of Living (From the Sixteenth Annual Report of the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor, for 1885). Boston, Massachusetts: Wright & Potter Printing Co., State Printers. OCLC 608888357. Reprint edition.CS1 maint: postscript (link)