A Nation Transformed by Information: How Information Has Shaped the United States from Colonial Times to the Present

By Alfred D. Chandler Jr.; James W. Cortada | Go to book overview
Save to active project

2

Early American Origins
of the Information Age

Richard D. Brown


The Ancien Regime of Information Diffusion
in the British Colonies

During the nineteenth century a dynamic, innovative information culture emerged in the United States, one in which the production of print and oratory, and systems for their diffusion, came to set the pace for much of the world. In global terms this was an astonishing development, especially in light of the condition of British North America during the Colonial Period. Colonial society had been by European standards relatively crude, even backward: its population was thinly spread in a vast landscape, and there was a general scarcity of social and economic infrastructures and the capital to develop them. Information and transportation infrastructures were only beginning to grow, and they lagged far behind Britain. Whether one counts printing presses and associated industries such as papermaking, typefounding, and bookbinding, or libraries, roads, and canals, the American colonies were a raw, frontier society when measured against England. Indeed, colonists relied more on the British information infrastructure than on anything their own settlements could muster for much of the eighteenth century. The American starting point was not especially promising. 1

It is true that Europe's most advanced information technology came early to the colonies. The Puritan stronghold, Massachusetts-Bay, imported a press into Cambridge in 1638, and thereafter sponsored a printer. But the purpose of this government-controlled press was limited to printing the laws of the colony, such religious works as the leading magistrates and clergymen thought necessary, and job-printing for the government and Harvard College. Almost forty years would

-39-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
A Nation Transformed by Information: How Information Has Shaped the United States from Colonial Times to the Present
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 380

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?