The first issue of The Atlantic Monthly, as it was known back then, appeared in November, 1857. The magazine was a huge success and considered itself “a journal of literature, politics, science and the arts”. The magazine was conceived by notable figures such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes and James Russell Lowell.
Lowell was the first editor from 1857 to 1861. He was an abolitionist who brought up controversial issues that included topics such as giving women the ability to get an education.
When it began, The Atlantic Monthly’s Declaration of Purpose went something like this:
“In politics, The Atlantic Monthly will be the organ of no party or clique, but will honestly endeavor to be the exponent of what its conductors believe to be the American idea. It will deal frankly with persons and with parties, endeavoring always to keep in view that moral element which transcends all persons and parties, and which alone makes the basis of a true and lasting prosperity. It will not rank itself with any sect of anties: but with that body of men which is in favor of Freedom, National Progress, and Honor, whether public or private.” more
The magazine has won many awards, including the coveted National Magazine Award. The staff is young, averaging age 35. Other literary tidbits to note are: “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” a well known relic of America, and “Fifty Grand,” Ernest Hemingway’s first ever short story, both appeared in The Atlantic. The magazine published early works of Mark Twain and important essays by Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt.
The magazine has a rich and influential history that I can only touch on. The current editor is James Bennet. The Atlantic recently moved their offices from Boston to Washington DC, thus breaking away from their New England roots.
Currently, The Atlantic is owned by The Atlantic Monthly Group.