Born in Massachusetts to a family of merchants and seamen, Clapp traveled to Paris to translate the socialist writings of Fourier. In Paris, Clapp abandoned his ardent sympathy for the temperance movement and embraced the leisurely café life of the city. Upon returning to New York in 1850, he sought to recreate this atmosphere, spending hours at Charlie Pfaff's beer cellar, drawing a crowd of journalists, painters, actors, and poets to cultivate an American Bohemia in which participants admired and discussed the work of Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, and Washington Irving (Martin 15-7).
Henry Jarvis Raymond was born in Lima, New York to a farm family that had migrated from Connecticut. Raymond distinguished himself at the University of Vermont where he was graduated with high honors in 1840. During his college career he developed strict work habits and began submitting pieces to Horace Greeley’s New Yorker. He moved to New York City after college and pursued freelance writing until he earned a job with Greeley. Thus began a lifelong enmity between the two men whose views of the role and utility of journalism differed greatly.