The Early American Press, 1690-1783

By William David Sloan; Julie Hedgepeth Williams | Go to book overview

giving the Loyalists' side of the story. Loyal journalists countered by turning the concept of a free, impartial press into a rallying cry.

Loyalists were no farsighted journalistic geniuses, of course. They did not gaze into a crystal ball and foresee a balanced, impartial press as an ideal. In fact, when the war loomed into reality, Loyalist printers would shout their one-sided viewpoints in their newspapers loudly and angrily, just as Patriots would.

During the uneasy decade before the start of the war, Loyalists' views were just as strongly held as those of the Patriots. Loyalist printers begged for an impartial, two-sided press out of self-defense, not out of some higher concept of journalistic principles. They simply perceived that their opinions and livelihoods were in danger if Patriots succeeded in forcing a showdown with the mother country. That perception would come true during the Revolution.

The press philosophies presented by both Loyalists and Patriots would inevitably clash. In the short run, the forthright Patriot philosophy to advocate one side of the story would win out. As American forces and British troops opened fire at Lexington and Concord, the entire press in America, both Loyal and Patriot, would choose the philosophy of the Patriots: one-sided, biased, persuasive news coverage. The practice would serve well during the war.


NOTES
1.
Virginia Gazette ( William Rind, Williamsburg), 16 May 1766. There were many papers named Virginia Gazette, some of them operating simultaneously. Thus, newspapers by that name will be identified with their proprietor's name in parentheses.
2.
Boston Chronicle, 21 December 1767. Fleeming's name is sometimes incorrectly recorded as "Fleming."
3.
Carolyn H. Knight, The American Colonial Press and the Townshend Crisis, 1766-1770: A Study in Political Imagery ( Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990), 77.
4.
Boston Gazette, 9 November 1767.
5.
Essex Gazette ( Salem, Mass.), 2 August 1768.
6.
Francis Bernard to Lord Hillsborough, 18-19 July 1768, in Francis Bernard and others, Letters to the Ministry ( Boston, 1769), 44-46. Quoted in Arthur M. Schlesinger, Prelude to Independence: The Newspaper War on Britain, 1764-1776 ( New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1958), 93.
7.
See, for example, the account in the New-York Journal, 13 October 1768, of the British troops' arrival in Boston.
8.
Boston Evening Post, 12 December 1768.
9.
Ibid.
10.
"Journal of Occurrences" for 22 June 1769. Quoted in Oliver Morton Dickerson, comp., Boston Under Military Rule, 1768-1769 as Revealed in A Journal of the Times ( Boston: Chapman & Grimes, 1936), viii. The writer(s) of the "Journal" was anonymous.
11.
Dickerson, ibid., xi.
12.
"Journal of Occurrences" for 27 October 1768. Quoted in Dickerson, ibid., 12.
13.
"Journal of Occurrences" for 28 October 1768, ibid., 13.
14.
"Journal of Occurrences" for 13 January 1769, ibid., 49.
15.
"Journal of Occurrences" for 30 March 1769, ibid., 85.

-165-

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The Early American Press, 1690-1783
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Foreword vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - The Boston Press, 1690-1735 1
  • 2 - The Philadelphia Press, 1719-1735 51
  • Notes 68
  • 3 - Freedom of the Press, 1638-1735 73
  • Notes 91
  • 4 - The Expansion of the Colonial Press, 1735-1765 97
  • Notes 118
  • 5 - The Stamp Act Crisis, 1765-1766 123
  • Notes 142
  • 6 - The Uneasy Years, 1766-1775 147
  • Notes 165
  • 7 - The Revolutionary Press, 1775-1783 171
  • Notes 192
  • 8 - Reflections on the Early American Press 199
  • Notes 209
  • Bibliographical Essay 211
  • Notes 217
  • Sources 219
  • Index 229
  • About the Authors 235
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