How did the first United States foreign correspondents help shape an American common sense about the rest of the world? This new study is the first to address this key question, examining the images of foreign countries that emerge from the first formally organized American foreign correspondence. Its focus is on the discourses of the "world" constructed in mid-19th-century correspondence, which provided American newspaper readers with their first cohesive view of the world outside its borders. By emphasizing the emergence of foreign correspondence across its first two decades (1838-1859), and by comparing it to images in editorial and congressional debates of the time, Giovanna Dell'Orto's analysis addresses the pivotal question of what meanings were ascribed to foreign cultures during this key time. Giving Meanings to the World also establishes for the first time in scholarly literature the early history of the content of foreign news and editorials in American newspapers while also exploring "alternative" constructions of foreign cultures in the correspondence for an African-American newspaper and by women writers. Unique in both subject matter and approach, this work gathers together and puts into perspective an array of information and discussion about how America viewed other nations in the early days of foreign correspondence.