The New York Illustrated News first appeared on November 12, 1859, as an imitator of Harper's Weekly and Frank Leslie's Illustrated News. John King was the founder, but he sold to T. B. Leggett in mid-1861. The paper had four editors in three-plus years, and was sold again in early 1864 to W. Jennings Demorest. Demorest's New York Illustrated News added fashions and other women's features, and was merged with Demorest's Mirror of Fashion in August 1864. The paper was generally understaffed and in constant financial trouble.

In its first year, 1860, the paper published some of Thomas Nast's earliest illustrations. Nast, who turned 20 in September 1860, covered Giuseppe Garibaldi's 1860 campaign to unify Italy, where he learned to draw realistic battle scenes. In 1861, Alfred R. Waud joined the staff and drew sketches of most of that year's major eastern battles, beginning with First Manassas (Bull Run).

Most of Nast's time with the New York Illustrated News was spent at its editorial office in New York City, where he redrew sketches sent in by Waud and other field artists. He generally signed his own name or initials, creating plenty of hard feelings with Waud in particular.

However, Nast did cover Lincoln's stops in Philadelphia and Baltimore on the way to his March 4, 1861 inauguration in Washington. He also drew a number of back-page cartoons.

By 1862, both Alfred Waud and Nast moved to Harper's Weekly, where the pay was better and the financial security greater. Arthur Lumley, one of Frank Leslie's better artists, was recruited as a replacement.

The quality of the New York Illustrated News illustrations and its related news stories makes it a solid source for observing the Civil War's opening years. However, its fiction and printing were not up to the level of Harper's Weekly.




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