Friday, February 5, 2016

Boston Patriot One of New England's earliest Newspapers

Below is a little history on the Boston Patriot. This information comes from "Newspapers and Newspaper Writers in New England." ©1880 It's an interesting article voicing the author's opinion about the paper and it's objectives. But I also believe it helps the reader understand some of the issues that might be debated during the later part of the 19th Century about the earlier part of the century.

On the 3d March, 1809, was issued the first number of the "Boston Patriot," Everett and Munroe publishers. It was started as a stalwart supporter of the administration of James Madison, and a most zealous opponent of the policy and measures of the Federalist party. David Everett, already well known as a political writer, was the editor, and in the first number set forth his view of the reciprocal rights and powers of the States and the General Government in a frank, manly, and very positive spirit. He promised that while politics would claim his chief atten
1 I am indebted to William W. Wheildon Esq., of Concord, for the use of a complete file of "The Boston Spectator," of which there are, probably, few copies preserved.
tion, the great and permanent interests of religion, morality, literature, and the municipal economy of the country would also be objects of primary regard; and he kept his word. The first number contained a vigorous assault upon "The Essex Junto " and its alleged conspiracy against the Union; also the protest of a minority of the State Senate in support of the embargo laws, bearing the still familiar names of Seth Sprague, William Gray, Nathaniel Morton, Samuel Dana, Nathan Willis, and several others. John Adams, then in his seventy-fifth year, came out of his retirement and contributed to the " Patriot" the remarkable series of letters giving a retrospect and vindication of his public life, which at the time attracted the attention of the whole country. The collected works of Fisher Ames, who had died a few months before, were just published, and the "Patriot" devoted a large part of its space for many months to a bitter and sanguinary review of them, involving also the whole tenor of his life and character.1
In May, 1817, the "Patriot," then published by Davis C. Ballard and Edmund Wright, Jr., bought the "Independent Chronicle," and the two papers were thenceforward published as a daily, under the title of the "Independent Chronicle and Boston Patriot," until the absorption of both in the "Daily Advertiser " in December, 1831.
During the period following the adoption of the Constitution there were, outside of Boston, several journals of
1 The spirit which Mr. Everett gave to his paper during all this warlike period may he inferred from the following postscript to one of his more elaborate articles: "In the firm belief in the reality of its principles, the 'Boston Patriot' has taken its stand in the front of the hottest battle; and now, while the enemy deliberate whether or not to fall upon it with all the vehemence of their wrath, the editor has thought proper to reconnoitre their entrenchments, and to show that he will on no occasion be found sleeping at his post."
influence and ability. Foremost among them was the "Salem Gazette," established in 1787 under the name of the "Mercury," by Thomas C. dishing, taking the present name three years later. For a short time (1794-97) William Carlton assumed the publication, and the Rev. Dr. Bently began with him the remarkable and altogether incomparable weekly summaries of the news of the world, which he continued in the "Register" for twenty-five years after. Mr. Cushing resumed the publication in 1797, and espoused the Federalist cause decisively and aggressively; and until the end, in 1815, was its most faithful defender. He was known among his friends, and lives in the traditions of Essex County, as " the amiable and gifted Cushing." But his good temper, his pure character, and his lovable nature were no proof against the fierce temper of that time. As a journalist he was lucid, earnest, and usually courteous; but he spared no energy of argument or of denunciation which his cause seemed to him to require.
The great contest of 1802 between Jacob Crowninshield and Timothy Pickering for Congress, Republican and Federalist,— the "Register," conducted by William Carlton, representing the former, the "Gazette" the latter, — is historical. Nothing like it has been known, or would be possible, in our time. Blows were given and received without mercy. Captain Crowninshield in company with Joseph Story, then a young lawyer in the first flush of his youthful genius, and a writer of political articles for the "Register," called upon Mr. Cushing and threatened to shoot him if he continued his assaults. "The Register," at the same time or soon after, was held in a suit for libel on Timothy Pickering, for which the editor was convicted, fined, and imprisoned. Yet it must be said that both journals were conducted with eminent ability and comparative decorum. I have read the old files diligently, and it needs much reading between the lines to discover the causes of the convulsion which rent parties and society asunder in that stormy time.
Mr. Cushing retired in 1822. His fighting days had long been over. Mr. Buckingham, who speaks kindly of every one, is especially kind to him. "The qualities of his heart," he says, " were not less amiable than the faculties of his mind were respectable. His bosom was the seat of all the gentle virtues ; his benevolence was unwearied ; his friendship disinterested, ardent, and sincere; his integrity steadfast, incorruptible, and unsuspected." Caleb Cushing, his illustrious son, conducted the paper for a few months; but the son had larger plans in view, and left it in the hands of Mr. Ferdinand Andrews, who in 1827 transferred it to Mr. Foote, the present senior proprietor, who for more than half a century has made the " Salem Gazette " a name for all that is pure, honest, and of good report in its profession, and who still lives in the enjoyment of a serene and honored old age.

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