By His Excellency William Shirley, Esq;...A Proclamation.
In colonial America the surest way for a printer to achieve financial stability was to secure government contracts for printing the laws and other official documents. Usually, the government printer also ran his newspaper as a kind of sycophantic “court” gazette. Some government printings, such as proclamations, were important elements of the colonial news media. Official proclamations might announce a new policy or regulation, a day of thanksgiving for a military victory, a denunciation of criminals or rioters, or even the prosecution of the publisher of a seditious newspaper. Proclamations illustrate the blending of print culture and oral culture in the realm of news. They were quite elegantly printed, and copies were posted in conspicuous public places. They were also designed to be read aloud to the gathered citizens of the towns.
This governor’s proclamation is an official announcement regarding the siege of the French fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island. It was printed by John Draper (d. 1762) in Boston, who was the longtime printer to the Massachusetts governor and publisher of the Boston News-Letter. In 1745 Governor William Shirley (1694-1771) was the chief promoter of the Cape Breton expedition, and this broadside proclaims a new recruitment effort by Shirley’s government. The proclamation prominently displays the governor’s name and coat-of-arms. The aim of the proclamation was to spread the news of the government’s recruitment plans throughout the colony. Copies were printed for every military company in Massachusetts, and officers were directed to read the proclamation to their assembled militiamen.