Journals and Journeymen: A Contribution to the History of Early American Newspapers

By Clarence Brigham | Go to book overview

Subscription Worries

ONE OF the chief worries of an early newspaper publisher was to collect his subscriptions. There was scarcely a newspaper where the printer at one time or another did not refer to this embarrassment. Money was scarce, the newspaper was not a necessity, and too often the printer was lenient. Threats were of little avail, and frequently the subscriptions lagged for years. John Peter Zenger's complaint, voiced in his New-York Weekly Journal of February 25, 1751,1 is but a sample of the publisher's admonition:

My country subscribers are earnestly desired to pay their arrearages for this Journal, which, if they don't speedily, I shall leave off sending, and seek my money another way. Some of these kind customers are in arrears upwards of seven years! Now as I have served them so long, I think it is time, ay and high time too, that they give me my outset; for they may verily believe that my everyday cloathes are almost worn out.

James O'Connor, who published the Norfolk Herald, penned an appeal to his subscribers in 1808 which was copied by many other papers. The New York Herald of September 24, 1808, remarked: "The following is one of the best dunning advertisements

____________________
1
Quoted by Thomas, History of Printing, II, 103.

-23-

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Journals and Journeymen: A Contribution to the History of Early American Newspapers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Publications ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Introduction ix
  • History of Early Newspapers 1
  • Titles of Newspapers 12
  • Newspaper Vs. Magazine 15
  • Circulation 19
  • Subscription Worries 23
  • Advertisements 27
  • Illustration 37
  • The Time-Lag in News 55
  • Women Newspaper Publishers 71
  • Marriage and Death Records 80
  • Carriers' Addresses 84
  • William Goddard's Additions to Thomas' History of Printing 99
  • News Rooms 108
  • Early Collections of Newspapers 110
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