Many in our hobby like to pursuit the very first time “they put it in print” and the “it” can be a very wide range of announcements, reports, or images. Certainly first reports of major 18th and 19th century battles have been among the favored issues of collectors, and most certainly the first printing of ht Declaration of Independence in a newspaper commands a considerable premium among those who are able to consummate that pursuit.
Two collectors, Michael Zinman and Steve Lomazow, raised an interesting question: what newspaper was the first to include a print of the U.S. flag within its pages? After discovering several newspapers from 1847 and then 1840 with flag engravings, we found in our database the “True American & Commercial Advertiser” from Philadelphia, 1806 which incorporates a U.S. flag (albeit a small engraving: see photo) within the masthead image (see sample). The newspaper actually began in 1798 but that didn’t mean the masthead engraving was there. Typically mastheads change, often several times, through the life cycle of a newspaper.
But a confirmation from Vincent Golden, newspaper librarian at the American Antiquarian Society, which has holdings of this title going back to issue number 1, confirms the engraving with the flag is, indeed, present with that very first issue.
So this sets the earliest appearance of the U.S. flag in a newspaper at July 1, 1798. But I’m not convinced this is the earliest date. Are any of you collectors aware of an earlier appearance? Check your collections and share with the rest of us!
Todd Andrlik, founder and editor of Journal of the American Revolution, and curator, author and editor of Reporting the Revolutionary War: Before It Was History, It Was News (Sourcebooks, 2012), has assembled and written a great piece of scholarship in regards to Paul Revere – specifically, how he was viewed by his contemporaries, using the lens of original newspapers of his day. An excerpt is as follows:
Because of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride,” most people think that Revere was critical to the start of the Revolutionary War. In trying to dispel Longfellow’s myth of a lone hero, modern scholars have portrayed Revere as just one rider among dozens on 18-19 April 1775, and argued that his previous rides for the Patriot cause might have been more important. A survey of newspapers from 1774 and 1775 shows that in fact those earlier rides had made Revere prominent enough that he did stand out in reports of the fighting at Lexington and Concord, even as Massachusetts authorities kept the extent of his activities quiet.
Paul Revere was a man who wore many hats. He was well known throughout New England for his engravings, his silver work, his Masonic fellowship and his political activity. Plus, in 1774 and early 1775, Revere worked as an express rider for the Boston Committee of Correspondence and the Massachusetts Committee of Safety. He frequently carried letters, newspapers and other important communication between cities, including Boston, Hartford, New York and Philadelphia. Revere’s early dispatches related to some of the biggest American events of the eighteenth century, including the destruction of the tea, the Boston Port Bill and the Suffolk Resolves. In December 1774, at the age of 39, he rode to Portsmouth to alert local Patriot leaders that the Royal Navy was on its way to seize gunpowder and arms from Fort William and Mary. Newspaper printers would eagerly print Revere’s tidings, frequently attributing…
This is a must-read article! View Todd’s scholarship in its entirety at:
In celebration of its 20oth anniversary the American Antiquarian Society published a beautiful exhibition catalog titled “In Pursuit Of A Vision – Two Centuries of Collecting at the American Antiquarian Society”. Featured are a fascinating array of books, documents, maps & other paper ephemera, as well as several very rare & unusual newspapers we felt worthy of sharing with our collectors (with permission from the A.A.S.).
93. “Moniteur de la Louisiane“, New Orleans, February 21, 1810
The Moniteur de la Louisiane, established in 1794 by Louis Duclot, was the first newspaper published in Louisiana. Because so few early issues have survived, its history is difficult to piece together. The earliest known issue — since lost in a fire but preserved in facsimile — was dated August 25, 1794; all other extant issues are from the 1800s. Although founded when Louisiana was under Spanish control, the Moniteur was published primarily in French, the language of Louisiana’s majority population. Over time the newspaper grew in size from octavo to quarto to folio, and it also change publishers. This 1810 issue lists Jean Baptiste Le Seur Fontaine as publisher, A role he had assumed by 1803 and perhaps as early as 1797. Publication apparently ceased in 1814. When Fontaine died that year, he bequeathed to the city of New Orleans his personal file of the Moniteur.
This is one of two issues of the Moniteur sent to AAS by Edward Larocque Tinker as part of his very substantial gift of early Louisiana newspapers and periodicals.
It was such a tragedy to America when Alexander Hamilton, the founding father of the United States, chief of staff to Washington in the Revolutionary War, and America’s first Secretary of the Treasury, was killed in a duel, an event he opposed but honor forced him to participate. His words from shortly before the duel are telling: ““My religion and moral principles are strongly opposed to the practice of dueling…My wife & children are extremely dear to me…I am conscious of no ill will to Col. Burr distinct from political opposition…But it was, as I conceive, impossible for me to avoid it…”. The report is found in the “Middlesex Gazette” newspaper of July 20, 1804 (see below).
His wounds at the hand of Aaron Burr–who curiously was Vice President at the time–would prove fatal. His comments give evidence to the value of honor among the early patriots, even when they lead to a tragic end.
The best headlines need no commentary. Such is the case with the LOS ANGELES TIMES, April 5, 1968: “DR. KING SLAIN BY SNIPER IN MEMPHIS“
Tabloid journalism was alive and well in 18th century America. If you thought “sleazy” reports were a concoction of the 20th century, you would be wrong, as newspaper editors had, for hundreds of years, few concerns about slandering those they found offensive or who were on the other side of the political fence.
The “Pennsylvania Ledger And Weekly Advertiser” of December 24, 1777” was a Tory newspaper (loyal to the King, not the American cause of independence) and on page 2 the editor printed portions of a letter from George Washington to his wife, intercepted on its route. Obviously no friend of Washington’s, he even publishes the letter as a separate piece and offers for sale in his shop: ” “The printer has received from New York a few copies of an intercepted letter from General Washington to his Lady, dated June 24, 1776, which he is now selling at his shop in Market Street. The following is an extract.”
We recently came across an interesting issue of “The Daily Rocky Mountain News” from Denver, dated Oct. 4, 1864. The uniqueness was not in the reporting; it was in the newspaper itself. Rather than printed on traditional newsprint stock, this issue is printed on pink-colored tissue paper. Fortunately, although very flimsy, it is not the least bit fragile.
It was not unusual for print shops to run out of newsprint and to become inventive in finding ways to get out the day’s edition, particularly for newspapers in remote parts of the country as most paper mills were located in the Northeast. Think of the famous wallpaper issues from the Civil War. Some investigating came across the reason. One website on the history of the “Rocky Mountain News” noted that: “…When the Indian outbreak caused an embargo on traffic over the Western plains in 1864-5, he frequently ran out of white paper, and in such emergencies he printed the news on wrapping paper gathered from Denver stores…”. So this pink paper was wrapping paper. I wonder how long the need for “necessity paper” lasted. We also have two more issues with a similar date which are printed on yellow and green paper. In any case, very interesting curiosities for this fascinating hobby.
The best headlines need no commentary. Such is the case with The New York Times, October 16, 1928: “ ZEPPELIN SAFE AT LAKEHURST AFTER 111-HOUR FLIGHT; SOARS OVER THE WHITE HOUSE AND THEN OVER NEW YORK; MOORED TO MAST TILL WIND DROPS AT 2 A.M.; NOW IN HANGAR”…
“And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”
(God, as written by Mark in Mark 3:25)
“United we stand, divided we fall.”
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
“For united we stand; Divided we fall. And if our backs should ever be against the wall. We’ll be together…”
(The Brotherhood of Man)
Bringing people together is no small task. Those who have the ability to rally factions behind a common cause are few and far between. Those who can do so for a noble cause are a true rarity.
While we all acknowledge Abraham Lincoln’s efforts to this end as exemplified in both his “House Divided” speech and yet again in his “Gettysburg Address”, it was another relatively unknown true American patriot who was instrumental in doing the same soon after the close of the American Revolutionary War: Dr. Benjamin Rush. Below please find (and enjoy) the full text of “Address to the People of the United States”, which begins:
“There is nothing more common that to confound the terms of the American revolution with those of the late American war. The American war is over; but this is far from being the case with the American revolution.”,
“PATRIOTS of 1774, 1775, 1778—HEROES of 1778, 1779, 1780! come forward! your country demands your services!—Philosophers and friends to mankind, com forward! your country demands your studies and speculations! Lovers of peace and order, who declined taking part in the late war, come forward! your country forgives your timidity, and demands your influence and advice! Hear her proclaiming, in sighs and groans, in her governments, in her finances, in her trade, in her manufactures, in her morals, and in her manners, ‘THE REVOLUTION IS NOT OVER!’ “, Dr. Benjamin Rush, MD.
What a tremendous rally for all Americans to unite behind a noble cause: the establishment of a nation like none other!
To read the complete text of this amazing speech, go to: American Museum, January, 1787
The best headlines need no commentary. Such is the case with the Los Angeles Record – Second Extra, August 23, 1926: “VALENTINO DEAD“, with subhead, “Hollywood Mourns Film ‘Sheik’s’ Death“…