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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-Island 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 PrintingHouse 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 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.
He returned to Newport as soon as that town was evacuated, and reestablished his press.'
This paper, when first published, had a large cut of the figure of Mercury in its title. Hall exchanged it for a small king's arms. Southwick enlarged the king's arms, and added to the title: “Containing the freshest advices,” &c. His printing house was “ in Queen Street, near the Middle of the Parade."
Southwick continued the Mercury on the respectable ground on which it was placed by Hall; and, during the contest for the independence of our country, he conducted it with firmness and patriotic zeal. Southwick's successors have continued the Mercury to this time (1810). It is the fourth oldest paper now published in the United States."
? It is stated (Hist. Mag., lv, 37), that the British plundered his office of £200. Another report (Newport Mercury, Sept. 12, 1858), states that before leaving the island, Southwick buried his press and types in the garden in the rear of the old Kilburn House, in Broad street; that a tory, having knowledge of the fact, gave the enemy information, and they were dug up, and used by the British during their stay, and that copies of a paper published by them are preserved in the Redwod Library.- M.
Henry Barber, who published the Mercury in 1780, learned printing of Southwick. The family emigrated from England, and settled in Westerly, R. I. He died Sept. 11, 1800, and was succeeded by his sons, William and John H.; they were finally succeeded by William Lee Barber, the son of John H., who died Dec. 27, 1850, aged 25, and the paper, which had been published by them almost uninterruptedly during seventy years, passed out of the family. It is still continued, and is the oldest paper in the country except the New Hampshire Gazette, which is two years its senior. See vol. 1, pp. 199–201.- M.
The following item is clipped from the Boston Daily Advertiser of Nov. 16, 1872: “The Newport Mercury was sold to-day to John P. Sanborn, who for two years past has been the editor of the Daily Neros of this city. F. A. Pratt, the former owner of the Mercury, has been connected with it for thirty years, and from its columns has reaped a profitable harvest with which he will retire from the journalistic field. It is rumored that the day is not far distant when the Mercury will be issued as a morning daily."— H. PROVIDENCE.
The Providence Gazette, and Country Journal.
Containing the frebeft Advices, both Foreign and Domestick.
This was the only newspaper printed in Providence before 1775. It was first published October 20, 1762, by William Goddard, on a sheet of crown size, folio; a cut of the king's arms decorated the title. It was printed every Saturday, from types of english and long primer. Imprint, “Providence: Printed by William Goddard, at the Printing-Office near the Great Bridge, where Subscriptions, Advertisements and Letters of Intelligence, &c., are received for this Paper; and where all Manner of printing Work is performed with care and Expedition.'
The Gazette was discontinued from May 11, to August 24, 1765. On that day a paper was published, headed Vox Populi, Vox Dei. A Providence Gazette Extraordinary, Printed by S. and W. Goddard.” After this it was, till January, 1767, “Printed by Sarah Goddard and Co.” It then appeared with this imprint: “Printed in the Absence of William Goddard) by Sarah Goddard & Co.” In a short time after this, it was published by Sarah Goddard and John Carter.
In 1769, William and Sarah Goddard resigned their right in the Gazette to John Carter, who has published it from that time to the present (1810).
This paper zealously defended the rights of the colonies before the revolution, ably supported the cause of the country during the war, and has weekly diffused federal republican principles since the establishment of independence. The Gazette has, from time to time, been supplied by various writers, with many well composed political, moral and entertaining essays. Its weekly collection of intelligence is judiciously selected, and it was correctly and regularly printed more than forty years by its respectable publisher, John Carter. [See Newburyport, Philadelphia, Baltimore.]