The Business of Bigotry: John Van Evrie and the Rise of a Racist Publishing Empire


ACLS Fellowship Program




John Van Evrie was a New York physician and editor who penned and printed some of the most repulsive racist texts of the Civil War era. Known for popularizing the term “white supremacy,” Van Evrie was less an original thinker than an avid publicist who used the mid-nineteenth-century communications revolution to make a business of bigotry by connecting lay readers to emerging racist pseudoscience. This project traces Van Evrie’s networking, advertising, and writing strategies to demonstrate how he transformed a struggling urban paper into a powerful publishing company that profited from pandering to white Americans’ most virulent prejudices. At a time when racism is festering within new media forms, this disturbingly relevant study has broad implications within academia and beyond.