The News Media and the Making of America, 1730-1865

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Biographers and historians agree that Benjamin Franklin (1706-90) was the best journalist in colonial America and his Pennsylvania Gazette the best newspaper. Founded in 1728, the Gazette was the second newspaper to be produced in Philadelphia. In…

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The first newspaper in New York was the New-York Gazette, founded in 1725 by William Bradford (1663-1752). The New-York Weekly Journal appeared eight years later, and from its beginning it was more than a business competitor to the Gazette; it was a…

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Public executions had long been popular news events in Europe, and they fit well into the news environment of Puritan New England. They were sensational, which appealed to the voyeurism of audiences, but they were also morally instructive, which…

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The most formal medium of news dissemination in colonial New England was the government proclamation, issued by the governor or other high official and printed elegantly in broadside form. Proclamations often announced special days of thanksgiving…

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In New England, even in the age of newspapers, which began modestly in 1704 with the launch of the Boston News-Letter, the sermon remained a vital public communication medium for the discussion of news. Though most sermons, especially Sunday sermons,…

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The oldest of the five newspapers in Boston in 1737 was the Boston Weekly News-Letter. Founded in 1704, it was also the oldest newspaper in America. The proprietor of the News-Letter after 1732 was John Draper (d. 1762), who, like most newspaper…

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The New England Weekly Journal was founded in 1727 as a literary paper, along the lines of the Spectator in London and New England Courant in Boston, the newspaper that launched the career of Benjamin Franklin. But the Weekly Journal was more aligned…

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John Burt (1716-75) was born in Boston and graduated from Harvard College in 1736. At the time he kept his diary, he was reading theology with a local minister in Boston. He later accepted a call to the pulpit in Bristol, Rhode Island, and spent his…

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In colonial America, newspapers were delivered to their readers in a variety of ways. In the cities, customers often picked up their papers at the printing office. In the countryside, post riders delivered newspapers. Having free access to the postal…

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Isaiah Thomas (1749-1831) would become a prominent Patriot printer during the American Revolution and eventually one of the wealthiest men in the United States, but at sixteen he illegally left his apprenticeship in Boston with a poor printer named…
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