The time lag in news reporting, 1776…

June 18, 2009 by  
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Communication throughout the colonies in the 18th century was a slow process, particularly in winter. It took postriders a week to journey from New York to Boston, at least two days from Philadelphia to New York, and two weeks or more to the Southern states.

connecticut-journal_july_10A good example of the slowness of mail delivery is revealed by an analysis of the printing of the Declaration of Independence in the various colonial newspapers. The first printing was in the Pennsylvania Evening Post of July 6. Three days later it appeared in Baltimore, and four days later in New York.

The list below gives some indication of the time lag distances required, but it should be remembered that the printing often had to await the proper day of the newspaper’s publications as many were just weekly while others were bi-weekly or tri-weekly, although a few of the papers published “extraordinary” issues.

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE NEWSPAPER PRINTINGS

July 6  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Evening Post
July 8  Philadelphia, Dunlap’s Pennsylvania Packet
July 9  Philadelphia, Pennsylvanischer Staatsbote
July 9  Baltimore, Dunlap’s Maryland Gazette
July 10  Baltimore, Maryland Journal
July 10  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Gazette
July 10  New York, Constitutional Gazette
July 11  New York Packet
July 11  New York Journal
July 11  Annap0lis, Maryland Gazette
July 12  New London, Connecticut Gazette
July 13  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Ledger
July 13  Providence Gazette
July 15  New York Gazette
July 15  Hartford, Connecticut Courant
July 15  Norwich Packet
July 16  Exeter, New Hampshire Gazette, Extraordinary
July 16  Salem, American Gazette
July 17  Worcester, Massachusetts Spy
July 17  New Haven, Connecticut Journal
July 18  Boston, Continental Journal
July 18  Boston, New England Chronicle
July 18  Newport Mercury, Extraordinary
July 19  Newburyport, Essex Journal
July 19  Williamsburg, Virginia Gazette by Purdie (extract; in full July 26)
July 20  Williamsburg, Virginia Gazette by Dixon & Hunter
July 20  Portsmouth, Freeman’s Journal
July 22  Watertown, Boston Gazette
Aug. 2  Charleston, South Carolina & American General Gazette
Aug. 17  London, The London Chronicle

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Comments

2 Responses to “The time lag in news reporting, 1776…”

  1. BloggerDude on October 8th, 2009 7:24 pm

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  2. The Greatest Scoop of All Time? - Journal of the American Revolution | Journal of the American Revolution on January 24th, 2013 6:22 am

    […] The full text of the Declaration of Independence is first found in the British Chronicle for August 16, 1776, according to The Nation on February 17, 1898. While I haven’t seen the original British Chronicle, I have seen the August 17 issue of the London Chronicle, which features the full text of the Declaration, a full 10 days before the Belfast News Letter. The Edinburgh Advertiser printed the full text of the Declaration on August 20, as did the Edinburgh Evening Courant on August 21. Also, keep in mind that before word of the Declaration arrived in London on August 10, it had been printed in at least 29 American newspapers. […]

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