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The number of gazettes printed in the Spanish provinces cannot be ascertained. It has been mentioned that a gazette was printed at Mexico early in the eighteenth century;' another was established at Lima, at an early period; and, it has likewise been remarked that a press was long since set up in the Spanish part of Saint Domingo, &c.
In May 1807, a printing house was opened with much ceremony at Montevideo, on the river La Plata, in South America, when it was in the possession of the British fleet and army. The first printing performed at the press in that place was the prospectus of a gazette. The commander in chief, the admiral, and other principal officers of the province were present. The first sheet from the press was presented to the governor, the second to the admiral, and so on according to their rank. William Scollay, a young gentleman from Boston, educated at the university of Cambridge, Massachusetts, was appointed conductor of the press and the editor of the gazette, for which he received a very liberal salary.:
A few years later, presses were established, and gazettes published under the control of government, in most of the principal cities of Spain, in America, both on the continent and on the islands. A number of presses, issuing public journals, were also introduced by the revolutionists in
· Vol. 1, page 6. • Vol. 1, page 8.
* Printing was introduced into Rio Janeiro, the capital of Brazil, in 1813.-- M.
the interior of the extensive territories of Spain on this continent.
Three public papers are now (1810) published at Havana, on this island, weekly, under the titles following:
El Aviso de la Habana, Papel Periodico, Literario-Economico. Aurora, Correo Politico-Economico de la Habana. Mensagero, Politico Economico-Literario de la Habana.
These, like the Spanish and Portuguese gazettes of Europe, are in small quarto, and commonly on half a sheet of pot or crown paper. See Appendix N.
From the foregoing statement it appears that, from the time when the first public journal was published in the country, viz. in April, 1704, to April 1775, comprising a period of seventy-one years, seventy-eight different newspapers were printed in the British American continental colonies; that during this period, thirty-nine, exactly onehalf of that number, had been, occasionally, discontinued; and that thirty-nine continued to be issued from the several establishments at the commencement of the revolution. The papers published in the West Indies are not included in this computation.
In the course of thirty-five years, newspaper establishments were, as previously remarked, multiplied in a surprising degree; insomuch, that the number of those printed in the United States in June, 1810, amounted to upwards of three hundred and sixty, as will appear by a list of them in the appendix.
A large proportion of the public papers at that date were established, and supported, by the two great contending political parties, into which the people of these states are usually divided ; and whose numbers produce nearly an equipollence; consequently, a great augmentation of vehicles for carrying on the political warfare have been found necessary.
I cannot conclude what I have written on the subject of public journals, better than by extracting the following pertinent observations on newspapers, from the Rev. Dr. Miller's Retrospect of the Eighteenth Century.
“It is worthy of remark that newspapers have almost entirely changed their form and character within the period under review. For a long time after they were first adopted as a medium of communication to the public, they were confined, in general, to the mere statement of facts. But they have gradually assumed an office more extensive, and risen to a more important station in society. They have become the vehicles of discussion, in which the principles of government, the interests of nations, the spirit and tendency of public measures, and the public and private characters of individuals, are all arraigned, tried, and decided. Instead, therefore, of being considered now, as they once were, of small moment in society, they have become immense moral and political engines, closely connected with the welfare of the state, and deeply involving both its peace and prosperity.
“Newspapers have also become important in a literary view. There are few of them, within the last twenty years, which have not added to their political details some curious and useful information, on the various subjects of literature, science and art. They have thus become the means of conveying, to every class in society, innumerable scraps of knowledge, which have at once increased the public intelligence, and extended the taste for perusing periodical publications. The advertisements, moreover, which they daily contain, respecting new books, projects, inventions, discoveries and improvements, are well calculated to enlarge and enlighten the public mind, and are worthy of being enumerated among the many methods of awakening and maintaining the popular attention, with
1 The eighteenth century.
which more modern times, beyond all preceding example, abound.
“In ancient times, to sow the seeds of civil discord, or to produce a spirit of union and co-operation through an extensive community, required time, patience, and a constant series of exertions. The art of printing being unknown, and many of the modern methods of communicating intelligence to distant places not having come into use, the difficulty of conducting public affairs must have been great and embarrassing. The general circulation of Gazettes forms an important era, not only in the moral and literary, but also in the political world. By means of this powerful instrument, impressions on the public mind may be made with a celerity, and to an extent, of which our remote ancestors had no conception, and which cannot but give rise to the most important consequences in society. Never was there given to man a political engine of greater power; and never, assuredly, did this engine before operate upon so large a scale as in the eighteenth century.
“Our own country in particular, and especially for the last twelve or fifteen years, has exhibited a spectacle never before displayed among men, and even yet without a parallel on earth. It is the spectacle, not of the learned and the wealthy only, but of the great body of the people; even a large portion of that class of the community which is destined to daily labor, having free and constant access to public prints, receiving regular information of every occurrence, attending to the course of political affairs, discussing public measures, and having thus presented to them constant excitements to the acquisition of knowledge, and continual means of obtaining it. Never, it may be safely asserted, was the number of political journals so great in proportion to the population of a country as at present in ours. Never were they, all things considered, so cheap, so universally diffused, and so easy of access.”