Page images


BOSTON. There was not a newspaper published in the English colonies, throughout the extensive continent of North America, until the 24th of April, 1704.

John Campbell, a Scotchman, who was a bookseller and postmaster in Boston, was the first' who began and established a publication of this kind. It was entitled,

Numb. 1.

N. E.
The Boston News-Letter.

Published by Authority.” From Monday April 17, to Monday April 24, 1704. It is printed on half a sheet of pot paper, with a small pica type, folio. The first page is filled with an extract

1" The first attempt to set up a newspaper in North America, so far as can be ascertained, was made at Boston in 1690. Only one copy of this sheet is known to be in existence, that being in the state paper office in London.” See an entire copy of this, by Samuel A. Green, M.D., in the Historical Magazine for August, 1857. The authorities objected to it. They called it a pamphlet. Felt's Annals of Salem (1849), vol. II, p. 14. If this can be claimed as a newspaper, may also the sheet printed by Samuel Green in 1689, the placard mentioned in the New llamp. Hist, Soc. Coll., 1, 252? This was issued at the time Dr. Increase Mather was in England, endeavoring to procure a new charter for the colony of Massachusetts. It was entitled The Present State of the New English Affairs, and was published to prevent false reports. Among the notes to a reprint of the first number of the Boston Neros Letter, we are informed that Campbell was accustomed to write news letters. Nine of these dated 1703, have been published by the Massachusetts Historical Society, in their Proceedings, 1867, p. 485.- M.

* At the time this paper was first published, and for many years afterwards, there were licensers of the press. “Published by Authority,” I presume means nothing more than this; what appeared in the publication was not disapproved by the licensers.

from The London Flying Post, respecting the pretender, who styled himself James VIII of Scotland, sending popish missionaries from France into Scotland, &c., by which the kingdoms of England and Scotland were endangered. The queen's speech to both houses of parliament on that occasion, a few articles under the Boston head, four short paragraphs of marine intelligence from New York, Philadelphia, and New London, and one advertisement, form its whole contents. The advertisement is from Campbell, the proprietor of the paper, and is as follows:

“ This News Letter is to be continued Weekly; and all Persons who have any Houses, Lands, Tenements, Farmes, Ships, Vessels, Goods, Wares or Merchandizes, &c., to be Sold or Lett; or Servants Runaway; or Goods Stoll or Lost, may have the same Inserted at a Reasonable Rate; from Twelve Pence to Five Shillings, and not to exceed: Who may agree with Nicholas Boone for the same at his Shop next door to Major Davis's, Apothecary in Boston near the Old Meeting House.

“ All Persons in Town and Country may have said NewsLetter Weekly upon reasonable tearms, agreeing with John Campbell Post Master for the same.” The imprint is “ Boston: Printed by B. Green. Sold by Nicholas Boone at his Shop near the Old Meeting-House.” Green was Campbell's printer, and Boone was for some weeks his publisher.

No. 2, is a whole sheet of pot, folio, three pages of which are printed, and one is blank. Campbell's advertisement is again inserted, and a single new one is added.

In No. 4, Campbell desires those who wish to have advertisements inserted in the News-Letter, to apply to him.

Boone's name is left out of the imprint of No. 5, and “Sold at the Post Office" is inserted.

From No. 2, to No. 6, the News-Letter is contained on half of a pot sheet; and very few advertisements appear,


some weeks not any. From No. 6 to No. 192, it is printed on a half sheet of foolscap. No. 192 contains only two short advertisements; and for years after it was but seldom supplied with more than two, and, often, with not one new advertisement in the week.

In No. 71, Campbell inserted the following notice.

“At the Desire of several Gentlemen, Merchants and others, who are willing to Contribute towards supporting this Publick Print of Intelligence, the Undertaker has begun where it was left off, in hopes of others following their good Example, whereby it may be carryed on at least another year: And therefore all Persons in Town and Country, who have a mind to encourage the same, may have said News Letters every week by the year upon reasonable Terms, agreeing with John Campbell Postmaster of Boston for the same.”

It does not appear that Campbell had discontinued the paper, and his real meaning where he says he “has begun where he left off,” cannot now be well understood. No. 71, is dated August 24, 1705. It is evident from his advertisements in the course of this publication, that he “labored hard to get it along,” that he had but very few subscribers, and that he did not receive much encouragement from advertising customers.

Bartholomew Green printed the News-Letter for Campbell until November 3, 1707. No. 176, November 10, 1707, is “printed by John Allen, in Pudding Lane near the PostOffice, and there to be Sold."

In No. 190, Campbell informs “all who have a mind to encourage this Letter of Intelligence,” to agree with him, “Post Master of New England, at Boston.”

In No. 210, four years after the first publication, Campbell inserted the following advertisement. “This being the last day of the fourth Quarter of this Letter of Intelligence: All persons in Town and Country, who have not

already paid for this fourth Year are hereby desired now to pay or send it in; with their resolution if they would have it continued and proceeded on for a fifth year (Life permitted); which is only to be known by the number that take it weekly throughout the year; though there has not as yet a competent number appeared to take it annually so as to enable the Undertaker to carry it on effectually; yet he is still willing to proceed with it, if those Gentlemen that have this last year lent their helping hand to support it, continue still of the same mind another year, in hopes that those who have hitherto been backward to promote such a Publick Good will at last set in with it."

No. 390, completed four years printing of the News-Letter by John Allen in Pudding lane. On the evening following the day on which No. 390 was published, namely, October 2, 1711, happened what, from that time until 1760, was called the great fire in Boston. The postoffice and Allen's printing house were consumed in that conflagration. The following week the News-Letter was again printed at Green's printing house in Newbury street, with this imprint,“ Boston: Printed in Newbury Street, for John Campbell Post Master," which remained unaltered until October 1715. No. 391 contains an account of the fire. See Appendix B.

In October, 1715, B. Green added his name to the imprint, as the printer.

No. 664 begins the year 1717 with January — the NewsLetter had previously begun the year with March. Although this paper had at that time been published thirteen years it still languished for the want of due support, as appears by an address from Campbell to the public.

It was the design of Campbell that the News-Letter should give a selected, regular succession of foreign events; but the smallness of his paper rendered it impossible for him to publish occurrences seasonably; and at the close of the year he found himself greatly in arrears with his foreign intelligence. In Nos. 769 and 799, he proposes a remedy for this difficulty, which will, perhaps, be best understood in his own words, and may give a correct idea of the state of the News-Letter at that period.

“ After near upon Fourteen Years experience, The Undertaker knows that it's Impossible with half a Sheet in the Week to carry on all the Publick News of Europe, (tho' hitherto all those of Great Britian, Ireland, our own and our Neighbour Provinces has been Yearly Inserted). He now intends to make up that Deficiency by Printing a Sheet every other Week for Tryal, by which in a little time, all will become new that us’d formerly to be Old. Jan’y. 12, 1719.”

“ The Undertaker of this News-Letter, the 12th January last being the Second Week of this Currant Years Intelligence, gave then Intimation that after 14 (now upwards of 15) years experience, it was impossible with half a Sheet a Week to carry on all the Public Occurrences of Europe, with those of this, our Neighbouring Provinces, and the West Indies. To make up which Deficiency, and the News Newer and more acceptable, he has since Printed every other Week a Sheet, whereby that which seem'd Old in the former half Sheets, becomes New now by the Sheet, which is easy to be seen by any one who will be at the pains to trace back former years; and even this time 12 Months, we were then 13 Months behind with the Foreign News beyond Great Britain, and now less than Five Months, so that by the Sheet we have retrieved about 8 months since January last, and any One that has the News Letter since that time, to January next (life permitted) will be accommodated with allthe News of Europe &c., contained in the Publick Prints of London that are needful for to be known in these parts. And in regard the Undertaker had


« PreviousContinue »