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The Massachusetts Spy: Or, American Oracle of
Liberty. The printer of the Massachusetts Spy, or Boston Journal, was obliged to leave Boston, as has been mentioned, on account of the commencement of hostilities between the colonies and the parent country. He settled in this place, and on the 3d of May, 1775, recommenced the publication of that paper, which he continued until the British troops evacuated Boston, when he leased it for one year to William Stearns and Daniel Bigelow. They adopted another motto: “Undaunted by Tyrants, we will die, or be free.” After the first lease expired, the paper was leased for another year to Anthony Haswell, printer. Owing to unskillful workmen, bad ink, wretched paper, and worn down types, the Spy appeared in a miserable dèshabille during the two years for which it had been leased, and for two years after. At the end of that term, the proprietor returned to Worcester, and resumed its publication, with a new motto: Unanimity at Home, and Bravery and Perseverance in the Field, will secure the Independence of America."
Good materials of the kinds just mentioned could not be immediately procured, and the Spy from necessity was continued under numerous disadvantages until 1781, when it was printed from a good type, on better paper, with new devices and an engraved title. The device on the left was a figure representing America, an Indian holding the cap of Liberty on a staff with the left hand, and in the right a spear, aimed at the British lion, which appeared in the act of attacking her from an opposite shore. Round the device
LIBERTY DEFENDED FROM TYRANNY." That on the
right was a chain of thirteen links, with a star in each link, representing the union of the thirteen states. This chain was placed in a circular forın, leaving an opening for the arms of France, to which the ends of the chain were attached, and which perfected the circle. Above the arms were two hands clasped, and directly over them a sword, with its hilt resting on the clasped hands; the motto, “ UNION.” The title was thus new modelled, Thomas's Mas
. sachusetts Spy; or the Worcester Gazette. Motto: “The noble Efforts of a Virtuous, Free and United People, shall extirpate Tyranny, and establish Liberty and Peace.”
At the conclusion of the war the Spy was enlarged, and each page contained five columns. It was printed from new types; and the motto was changed to “ Noscere res humanas est llominis. Knowledge of the world is necessary for every man.”
About that time, its editor began to publish, in the paper, as room would permit, Robertson's History of America, and completed the whole in about one year. This was followed by a history of the revolutionary war. Besides these, the Spy contained valuable, useful, and entertaining extracts, on various subjects, from European and American publications, as well as original essays.?
This paper was printed with continued improvements until March, 1786, when the publication was, on the following account, suspended. The legislature of Massachusetts had in March, 1785, passed an “act, imposing duties on licensed vellum, parchment and paper.” This act laid
1 The English edition of Robertson's History, in three volumes, 8vo, then sold for six dollars. The price of the Spy was only nine shillings per
* The Worcester Speculator, inserted in the Spy, in numbers, weekly, was furnished by a society of gentlemen in the county of Worcester. A selection from these numbers, all the composition of the late Reverend Doctor Fiske of Brookfield, together with some other pieces by that gentleman, was afterwards printed in two duodecimo volumes, entitled The Moral Monitor.
a duty of two-thirds of a penny on newspapers, and a penny on almanacs, which were to be stamped. The British stamp act of 1765, violently opposed in the colonies, rendered this act so unpopular from its very name, that the legislature was induced to repeal it before it went into operation. But, in the July following, another act was passed, which imposed a duty on all advertisements inserted in the newspapers printed in this commonwealth. This act was thought by the publisher of the Spy, and by many others, to lay an improper restraint on the press. He therefore discontinued the Spy during the period that this act was in force, which was two years. But he published as a substitute a periodical work, entitled The Worcester Weekly Magazine, in octavo.
The restoration of the Spy took place in April, 1788, and a motto was at that time introduced from the constitution of Massachusetts, viz. : “ The Liberty of the Press is essential to the security of freedom.”
In 1801, Thomas resigned the printing and publishing of the Spy to his son Isaiah Thomas, Jr. The Spy is the oldest newspaper in Massachusetts.'
In 1785, a neat, small paper, was published semi-weekly in Charlestown, Massachusetts, entitled The American Recorder and Charlestown Advertiser. It was printed about three years by Allen & Cushing, and then discontinued. Imention this, because it was the only newspaper issued from a press in the county of Middlesex.
'In 1843, there were 79 newspapers published in Massachusetts, and the Spy, although it had met with some interruptions, was still recognized as the oldest paper in the state. In 1845, it began to be published daily ; and now, in 1872, one of the most flourishing papers in the country. There are now (1872), about 175 newspapers and other periodicals published in Boston alone.-M.
Although the press had been established many years in Connecticut before it was introduced into Rhode Island, yet a newspaper was published in Rhode Island twenty years earlier than in Connecticut.
This town was the fourth in New England where a press was established, and the second from which a newspaper was issued.
[No. 1.] Rhode-Iland Gazette.
This was the first paper issued in the colony. No. 1 was published September 27, 1732, printed on a small sheet of pot size, from a pica type much worn. Its contents were generally comprised on half a sheet. The day of publication was Wednesday. Imprint, “ Newport, Rhode Island : Printed and Sold by James Franklin, at his PrintingIIouse under the Town-School-House, where Advertisements and Letters to the Author are taken in."
The Gazette was discontinued the 24th of May, 1733, seven months from its first appearance. Some attempts
1 This would be eight months; but it does not seem to have been regularly published ; No. 17 is dated Jan. 25, No. 19 Feb. 22, No. 20 March 1.- M.
were made to revive this paper by Franklin's widow, but without success."
The Newport Mercury, First published about September, 1758, gained a permanent establishment. It was printed on Mondays by James Franklin, son of the printer of The Rhode Island Gazette, generally on paper of crown size, folio, but usually consisting of half a sheet only. When the publisher died, in August, 1762, the Mercury was continued by his mother, Anne Franklin, until she went into partnership with Samuel Hall, under the firm of Franklin & Hall, in Thames street. Mrs. Franklin died in April, 1763. Hall then became the proprietor of the Mercury, and published it until 1768.
Under the management of Hall, the Mercury made a more respectable appearance than before. It was printed handsomely and correctly; its columns were filled with well selected intelligence from the papers printed in the neighboring colonies, and due attention was paid to domestic information. Advertising customers increased, and its circulation became more extensive.
In 1768, Hall resigned the Mercury to Solomon Southwick, who conducted it until several years subsequent to the revolution. During the war, while the British troops possessed Newport, Southwick set up a press at Attleborough, Massachusetts, and there published the Mercury.
* The press used by the Franklins was preserved in the office of the Mercury to a late period, and an effort was made to sell it for $100 by the administrator of the Barbers ; but the claim that it was the press on which Benjamin Franklin wrought, could not be verified, and it remained unsold in a worm-eaten and disabled condition in 1858.- M. * The first number appeared June 12.- M.