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Benjamin Day in Antebellum Period

Benjamin Day (1810-1889) was an American printer and journalist who inaugurated the era of the inexpensive "penny press" when he launched the New York Sun in September 1833. He learned the printing trade in the office of the Springfield, Massachusetts Republican, and began printing the Sun for lack of other work.

James Gordon Bennett's New York Herald followed two years later, as did several other inexpensive papers in places like New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. By that time, Day's paper had already achieved the largest circulation in the world: 19,360. For the first time, newsboys sold the papers in the city streets, calling out the headlines, which became increasingly sensational as competition heated up and the papers tried to maintain their advertising revenues. Still, these papers were at first solely an urban phenomenon, and most Americans still lived in small towns, so their exposure to the penny press was usually indirect. Day went on to sell the Sun in 1838 for $40,000; four years later he founded the Brother Jonathan, which became the first illustrated weekly in America.

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