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by James Franklin, the press began to show color, to make history. Ben Franklin says that his brother had begun to print it in 1720 or 1721. When James Franklin was forbidden to issue it the order was evaded by printing it in the name of Benjamin, just as when some astute legislators passed a law against the playing of ninepins the game of tenpins came into being.
E have just had a bicentennial of which little notice was taken by the general
public. The two hundredth anniversary of the American press occurred in April last, and secured short notices from our great dailies. April 24, 1704, saw the starting of the 'first newspaper in the colonies, the Boston News-Letter. It was preceded by Publick Occurrences, a small quarto sheet with one page blank, which appeared in Boston in 1690, and was the first regularly printed publication of America. This sheet was soon suppressed by the governor of Massachusetts for containing "reflexions of a very high nature.” Therefore, to the News-Letter, which died in 1776, belongs the honor of being the leader of a stream from the press which has never ceased to increase in volume. At present the number of newspapers in the country is said to be over 21,000.
The News-Letter was a small affair, 7 by 10% inches, two columns to the page. Edited by John Campbell, postmaster of Boston, it was studiously neutral•and avoided expressing any opinion or telling any fact which might give offense to the powers that were.
For fifteen years Boston published the only newspaper in the colonies, Philadelphia following in 1719 and New York in 1725. It is curious that the Boston Gazette was issued on December 21, 1719, and the Philadelphia Weekly Mercury on December 22, 1719. With the appearance of the New England Courant in 1721, founded
The first volume of the News-Letter is owned by the New York Historical Society and was originally the property of Samuel Sewall, that entertaining Massachusetts judge who sentenced several "witches" to death during the excitement known as the Salem witchcraft. Many of Sewall's copies of the News-Letter have comments on the margins in his handwriting. There are really four volumes bound in the one book, the numbers running from the first one April 19, 1708, and in this list of 209 numbers only five are missing. Only one other copy of the first number is known and that is owned by the Massachusetts Historical Society, but the latter has only eighteen numbers of the first volume while the New York society lacks but one copy, No. 27. A collection owned by the American Antiquarian Society begins with No. 36.
Vol. I, No. I of the News-Letter contains two columns of news from Europe, and the only item of local interest is the statement that a vessel recently arrived in Boston reported that it was chased near Block Island by what was thought to be a French priva