In order to understand 18th century America, it’s a given that we identify the era’s milestone events, along with the personalities who made them happen. But even as we examine this period from the top down, it is instructive also to see the view from the bottom up.
One of the ways to take the pulse of a society is to search through its primary source materials. Inevitably our search will lead us not only to those well-publicized events we’re familiar with….but also to the ordinary every-day events that filled our forebears’ lives.
With that in mind Pages from the Past offers some typical newspapers that span the 18th century. In addition to reading the “news” on the front page of a newspaper from the Revolutionary War, you can also scan numerous ads on the back pages of a newspaper from the colonial era and another printed during George Washington’s presidency.
Pages From The Past features three newspapers:
- One is the January 2, 1750 issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette published by Benjamin Franklin. When you bring up the image, look for Franklin’s name as Post-Master at the bottom of the page.
- When you read The Boston Gazette, note that this issue was printed during the Revolutionary War, just three months after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The front page of The Gazette is filled with letters to and from George Washington and Lords Howe and Drummond regarding peace overtures by Great Britain.
- The other newspaper is the Massachusetts Centinel of Saturday, April 24, 1790, published by Benjamin Russell. George Washington was Russell’s idol, and his paper soon became the leading Federalist champion, its first great cause the adoption of the Federal Constitution. Numerous ads here identify the needs and wants of Americans during the early days of Washington’s presidency.
Only you can tell us if opening up this time capsule into the past and rummaging through its memorabilia has value…and is worthwhile. Your comments are always appreciated.
January 2, 1750
|The Boston Gazette
Monday, October 7, 1776
Saturday, April 24, 1790