North American Review

North American Review
North American Review  
North American Review - 1st issue - William Tudor's copy.gif
Discipline Literary journal
Language English
Edited by Vince Gotera and Grant Tracey
Publication details
Publisher University of Northern Iowa (United States)
Publication history 1815-1940, 1964-present
Frequency Quarterly
ISSN 0029-2397

The North American Review (NAR) was the first literary magazine in the United States. Founded in Boston in 1815 by journalist Nathan Hale and others, it was published continuously until 1940, when publication was suspended due to J. H. Smyth, who had purchased the magazine, being unmasked as a Japanese spy. Publication subsequently resumed in 1964 at Cornell College (Iowa) under Robert Dana. Since 1968 the University of Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls) has been home to the publication.[1] Nineteenth-century archives are freely available via Cornell University's Making of America.



Until the founding of the Atlantic Monthly in 1857, the NAR was the foremost publication in New England and probably the entire United States.[citation needed] For all its lasting impact on American literature and institutions, however, the Review had no more than 3000 subscribers in its heyday.

The NAR's first editor, William Tudor (1779-1830), and other founders had been members of Boston's Anthology Club, and launched The North American Review to foster a genuine American culture. In its first few years the NAR published poetry, fiction, and miscellaneous essays on a bi-monthly schedule, but in 1818 it became a quarterly with more focused contents intent on improving society and on elevating culture. The NAR promoted the improvement of public education and administration, with reforms in secondary schools, sound professional training of doctors and lawyers, rehabilitation of prisoners at the state penitentiary, and government by educated experts.

The NAR's editors and contributors included several literary and political New Englanders as John Adams, George Bancroft, Nathaniel Bowditch, William Cullen Bryant, Lewis Cass, Edward T. Channing, Caleb Cushing, Richard Henry Dana, Sr., Alexander Hill Everett, Edward Everett, Jared Sparks, George Ticknor, Gulian C. Verplanck, and Daniel Webster.

Between 1862 and 1872, its co-editors were James Russell Lowell and Charles Eliot Norton.[2] Henry Adams also later served as an editor. Although the Review did not often publish fiction, it did serialize The Ambassadors by Henry James.

In 1876, Allen Thorndike Rice purchased the NAR for $3000 and made himself the editor. He continued as editor until his death in 1889.[3] In 1899, George Harvey (former managing editor of the New York World) purchased the NAR, made himself editor and kept control until 1926, except for 1921-1924, when he was United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom. In 1924, circulation had fallen to 13,000, and the monthly reverted to a quarterly. In Fall 1926, NAR was sold to Walter Butler Mahony. Joseph Hilton Smyth purchased the NAR from Mahony in September 1938, but publication was suspended in 1940, when Smyth was found to be a Japanese spy, pleading guilty in 1942 to receiving $125,000 from 1938-1941 to establish or buy publications for the purpose of spreading Japanese propaganda.[4]

Poet Robert Dana rescued the NAR in 1964, resuming its operation and serving as editor-in-chief from 1964-68. During these years, the NAR was based at Cornell College, where Dana taught at the time.[1] To revive the NAR, Dana successfully negotiated arrangements with Claiborne Pell, at the time Senator from Rhode Island, who asserted that he had the rights to the magazine.

When the NAR moved from Cornell College to the University of Northern Iowa in 1968, its editor was Robley Wilson. The current editors are Grant Tracey and Vince Gotera, since 2000.


More recent contributors of note include Barry Lopez, Maxine Chernoff, Jim Krusoe, Joshua Henkin, Jacob M. Appel, Ron Carlson, Raymond Abbott, and William Tester.


  1. ^ a b "The Magazine’s Historic Past". The North American Review. Cedar Falls, Iowa: University of Northern Iowa. Retrieved February 9, 2009. 
  2. ^ Sullivan, Wilson. New England Men of Letters. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1972: 218. ISBN 0027886808
  3. ^ pp.405-406 in American National Biography, Vol. 18, Oxford University Press (c)1999
  4. ^

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