Not quite America : Alonzo Marion Poe in the Washington Territory
Lyell, Leon J.. (2022). Not quite America : Alonzo Marion Poe in the Washington Territory [MPhil Thesis]. Australian Catholic University School of Arts https://doi.org/10.26199/acu.8xz6z
|Authors||Lyell, Leon J.|
|Qualification name||Master of Philosophy|
Alonzo Marion Poe (1826-1866) was once remembered as a newspaperman in the Washington Territory. In time memory of his role faded. Poe was a respected civic player and, while certainly a newspaperman, was principally concerned with developing the Territory in accordance with his vision of the American polity: a Whig vision of America as an exemplar nation for free trade and democracy.
The thesis aims to place Poe and his newspaper the Overland Press into the narrative of the formation of Washington Territory and in so doing enhance understanding of this formulative period in America’s Pacific Northwest. Placing Poe in the context of his time not only fleshes out the snippets of his life which appear in some histories, it also offers opportunities for new reflections on nationalism as expressed in the region.
The creation of Washington Territory led to a clash of approaches to colonisation during this period. Governor Isaac Stevens wanted to impose his vision as quickly as possible, while older settlers advocated a more democratic approach. Both wanted Indians moved and the British gone, while Poe and some others who had benefitted from engagement with both were content with more ambiguous relations. Poe’s affinity for an urban lifestyle attracted him to Victoria, capital of the British Colony of Vancouver Island, where he found not only British subjects but lapsed American citizens who became an important part of his unique newspaper audience.
Poe entered into the theatrics of controversy which was good for circulation, but observers seemed unsure about his party affiliation. His criticism of Republicans led some to assume he was a Democrat, but his role in closing the Pioneer and Democrat convinced others he was a Republican. While changing political coats was not uncommon for some editors in the Territory, Poe was intentionally ‘all things’ to his readers while maintaining a consistent ‘Old Whig’ perspective after the Whig Party itself had disappeared.
The Civil War, provided Poe with the opportunity to create his own newspaper and also provoked him to editorialise on what it meant to be American, often by comparison with the English. While he was not a systematic political philosopher, his views on the nature of American democracy tapped into and encouraged sentiments present in his community. The thesis sets out to understand Poe’s life in the context of the development of the Washington Territory. Poe’s life in turn opens a new window to issues of governance, the press and political identity in the Washington Territory at its creation.
|Keywords||Alonzo Marion Poe; Washington Territory; Overland Press; Cowlitz Convention; American Civil War; American Whig Party; Frontier Press; Pacific Northwest; Governor Isaac Stevens|
|Publisher||Australian Catholic University|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI)||https://doi.org/10.26199/acu.8xz6z|
File Access Level
|Supplementary Files (Layperson Summary)|
File Access Level
|Online||30 Jun 2022|
|Publication process dates|
|Completed||17 Mar 2022|
|Deposited||30 Jun 2022|
Supplementary Files (Layperson Summary)
1views this month
0downloads this month