I’m New Here: Weeks Twenty & Twenty-One…

July 4, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s hard to put into words all I learned last week, other than conclude (again) I work in an amazing place. Distinct events blurred together as we completed the regular tasks of a pre-catalog release week, simultaneous with the receipt of eleven pallets of a new title.
As I know the least, I am the least helpful in this bulk intake process. Everyone else has done it before – making space where none seems apparent. So I stayed out of the way, fielding phone, email and web orders to the best of my ability.
This week, however, marks the Fourth of the July, and I took the opportunity to look at some surrounding details of 1776 through the real time lens of reported news.

The Sons of Liberty met under the Liberty Tree. It’s not an American fable; I read the notice calling for attendance and providing an alternate location in case of overflowing turnout. People staked fortune and life to sign the Declaration of Independence, and Philadelphia papers published their names alongside that document. Paul Revere was a working man who bought advertisements in The Massachusetts Centinel to draw more customers into his silver shop. Somehow, the risk of this bid for colonial freedom becomes more meaningful as I consider the sacrificial participation required from everyday people who had plenty to occupy them in their own private lives. Regular folks became significant because they stepped up when there was every reason to keep their heads down.
Today I am thinking about the farmers and shopkeepers, the printers and the writers who looked beyond immediate concerns to take a stand for the implications on centuries to come. Surely these are some for whom the words resounded, “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary…”  I won’t pontificate aloud, but there are so many contrasts to the perspective I readily adopt within my plush and easy American life.

Fresh perspective on the human story feeds the impulse: the more I find out, the more I want to know.  But the disconcerting truth is that the more I search, the more versions I find.  The best course of action just might be to head back into the annals and read it for myself…


The Traveler… the loss of a first…

July 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

I traveled today to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by the means of The Pennsylvania Gazette of July 16, 1767. Within the issue I found the report blog-7-17-2017-william-pennabout the death of the first child ever born in Philadelphia. “At Kennet, in Chester County, the 5th Instant, died JOHN KEY, in the 85th Year of his Age, and the next Day was interred in the Burial Place belonging to the People called Quakers, in the Township, attended by a large Number of reputable People, his Neighbours, and Acquaintance, —- He was born in a Cave, long afterwards known by the Name of Penny-Pot, near Race-street, and WILLIAM PENN, our first Proprietor, gave him a Lot of Ground, as a Compliment on his being the first Child born in this City… His Constitution was very healthy till about 80, when he was seized with the Palsy, and continued weakly till his Death, —- About 6 Years ago he walked on Foot from Kennet to Philadelphia in one Day, which is near 30 Miles…”

He sounded like a very remarkable man.

~The Traveler

The Traveler… William Penn’s estate…

May 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Yesterday I journeyed to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania through The Pennsylvania Gazette dated May 14, 1767.  On the front page of  the “Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette” which is entirely taken up with advertisements is for sale “…The Manor of Pennsbury, in Bucks County, containing about 6000 acres of land…one of the most valuable tracts that is now for sale in America…” with various details. This was the home estate of William Penn, now being sold for Ann Penn.

~The Traveler

Chuckle for the day…

June 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The “Pennsylvania Packet“, Philadelphia, issue of September 24, 1788 contains on page 3: “Dean Swift’s idea of an attorney…”. You can read it for yourself (see below).Blog-5-9-2016

Living in the moment…

April 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Blog-4-28-2014-DeclarationOne of the joys of reading newspapers of a bygone era is the opportunity to put yourself in a very special moment in history. One fine example is the report in the August 22, 1776 issue of “The Continental Journal” from Boston, which notes that: “…immediately after divine worship, the Declaration of Independence was read by Col. St. Clair, and having said, ‘God save the free independent States of America!’ the army manifested their joy with three cheers. It was remarkably pleasing to see the spirit of the soldiers so raised after all their calamities, the language of every man’s countenance was, now we are a people! we have a name among the states of this world.

Such editorial commentary brings the excitement of the period to life. This is truly the way to enjoy history–what a wonderful hobby!

Trenton as the nation’s capital in 1799…

September 13, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

A small news bit inconspicuously located on page 2 of the “Columbian Centinel” newspaper from Boston, dated  October 19, 1799, struck me as being in error: “The President of the United States arrived at the seat of government, (Trenton) in good health.” Or so I thought. While history tells us that the seat of government had moved from New York to Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. during this period, it appears in fact that the federal government did remove itself from Philadelphia (to Trenton) for a brief time in 1799 to escape the Yellow Fever epidemic in that city. But to my surprise there is very little on the internet about it. There are several sites which provide some detail about Trenton being the nation’s capital for 54 days in 1784, but just two sites have a passing reference to the 1799 event. There is no mention as to exactly when or for how long. Can anyone provide more detail? Surprisingly even the sites of the city of Trenton offer no help.

The Traveler… USS Constitution defeats HMS Java… River Raisin…

February 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

This week I traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by way of the Aurora dated February 19, 1813. Here I found the report of “Another Naval Victory!” being reported “… On the 29th of December, off St. Salvadore, the Constitution, capt. Bainbridge, fell in with the British frigate Java, of 38 guns (mounting 49) and 400 men. After an action of one hour and forty-five minutes, the Java struck, with the loss of 60 killed and 170 wounded. The Constitution had 9 killed and 25 wounded… The Java was so much damaged in action, that it was deemed impossible to fetch her in, and by order of captain Bainbridge she was burnt…”.

Also in this issue was the report of the battle at river Raisin, including the killing (scalping) of General Winchester and the further mutilation of his body. It is so hard to imagine what they went through in those battles. So much for nostalgia.

~The Traveler

Reflecting on a Day of Thanksgiving & Prayer from 1776…

November 22, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

On this (American) day of thanksgiving, it seems appropriate to reflect on such a day from the past through the eyes of those who were embarking on what may have been the most historic event in U.S. history – July 4, 1776.  A special thanks is in order for our friends in Scotland who captured this significant moment on the pages of the Edinburgh Evening Courant, dated September 2, 1776. Please enjoy:Declaration of Independence

Constitution for the “Philadelphia Dueling Club”…

July 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The Courier” newspaper of Norwich, Connecticut has in its July 2, 1800 edition an apparently tongue-in-cheek report detailing the constitution for the “Philadelphia Dueling Club”. The fact that it was approved on May 32, 1800, and signed by “William Blood, President’ and “Charles Bullet, Secretary” seems to render this less than real, the content is nonetheless interesting reading.

Its preamble notes that dueling has become: “…the fashion to the infinite satisfaction of all men of true honor, & whereas the opinion that this practice is improper & Immoral being only held by old women, or men who ought to wear petticoats…” with more. See the photo for the full 1st article… and the link above for the full text.

Pennsylvania’s first newspapers…

December 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

It was only in Boston where a newspaper came off a printing press prior to any in Pennsylvania.  It was 15 years after the “Boston News-Letter” of 1704 (not counting the one-issue run of Boston’s “Publick Occurrences Both Foreign & Domestick” in 1690) when, on December 22, 1719, Andrew Bradford began his “American Weekly Mercury” (see image) in Philadelphia,  Pennsylvania’s first newspaper. This weekly would last until 1746.

But certainly the most successful newspaper in the colony, if not in all of colonial America, was the “Pennsylvania Gazette” begun in December, 1728 by Samuel Keimer. Within a year it was purchased by Benjamin Franklin. As Oswald notes: “…Under Franklin’s guidance, there appeared for the first time a colonial newspaper produced by a man of education who was in addition a capable printer, a versatile writer, and energetic news gatherer and an enterprising & resourceful businessman. This combination had the inevitable result of placing the “Pennsylvania Gazette” in the lead, and it thereby established a model for others to follow.” The “Gazette” would make Franklin a wealthy man and his name appeared on the imprint through 1765.

Pennsylvania has the distinction of having America’s first daily newspaper, the “Pennsylvania Evening Post & Daily Advertiser“, which started publication in 1775 as a tri-weekly and became a daily on May 30, 1783.

Next Page »