Wayback Wednesday: Publick Occurrences 1690
Three hundred, twenty-nine years ago, today, the multi-page newspaper Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick was published in the Americas. Edited by Benjamin Harris and printed by Richard Pierce, it was the first of its kind.
Before [the multi-page], single-page newspapers, called broadsides, were published in the English colonies and printed in Cambridge in 1689. The first edition was published September 25, 1690, in Boston, then a city in the Dominion of New England, and was intended to be published monthly, “or, if any Glut of Occurrences happen, oftener.”
No second edition was printed because the paper was shut down by the Colonial government on September 29, 1690, who issued an order as follows:
“Whereas some have lately presumed to Print and Disperse a Pamphlet, Entitled, Publick Occurrences, both Forreign and Domestick: Boston, Thursday, Septemb. 25th, 1690. Without the least Privity and Countenace of Authority. The Governour and Council having had the perusal of said Pamphlet, and finding that therein contained Reflections of a very high nature: As also sundry doubtful and uncertain Reports, do hereby manifest and declare their high Resentment and Disallowance of said Pamphlet, and Order that the same be Suppressed and called in; strickly forbidden any person or persons for the future to Set forth any thing in Print without License first obtained from those that are or shall be appointed by the Government to grant the same.”
Without a license, it was closed down after a single issue, Harris was jailed, and the next newspaper did not appear until 1704, when John Campbell’s Boston News-Letter was the first American newspaper to last beyond the first issue.
From Encyclopaedia Britannica:
Benjamin Harris [was an] English bookseller and writer who was the first journalist in the British-American colonies. An ardent Anabaptist and Whig, Harris published argumentative pamphlets in London, especially ones attacking Roman Catholics and Quakers […]. His newspaper, Publick Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestick (Sept. 25, 1690), the first newspaper printed in the colonies, was suppressed by Boston authorities after one issue. Harris returned to London and journalism in 1695. His London Post appeared regularly from 1699 to 1706.
PDF of the Newspaper via the National Humanities Center
I was struck by the spelling of the times when I stumbled across this. The fact that he was shut down by the government for daring to speak out (in London & in Boston) also caught my attention. The more things change, the more they stay the same. ~Vic
9 thoughts on “Wayback Wednesday: Publick Occurrences 1690”
September 26, 2019 at 3:17 AM
I would love to see it’s take on things now.
September 26, 2019 at 1:55 PM
He, and those from his time, would be appalled & shocked. Remember. Two years after this incident, the Salem Witch Trials started. Same state/colony…
September 26, 2019 at 11:21 AM
Since it was only one issue…it’s pretty cool that it survived all of these years.
They didn’t play back then that is for sure. I wonder how long he served? I’ve looked around lightly and cannot find it.
September 26, 2019 at 3:00 PM
They were a narrow-minded nutty bunch. Two years later, the Salem Witch Trials started…same area, same colony (same state).
How long he served? I’m not following…
September 26, 2019 at 3:30 PM
Well that makes sense about the Witch trials that these are the same idiots.
How long did Benjamin Harris serve? I looked around but couldn’t see…for this terrible crime!
September 27, 2019 at 1:46 AM
Couldn’t have been long:
He continued to operate a coffee house and publish books from 1690 to 1695 before returning to London.
His data is locked behind subscriptions:
September 27, 2019 at 9:08 AM
Thank you! I don’t know why I that stuck with me.
They do guard it don’t they?
September 27, 2019 at 2:29 PM
Academics. They are as bad at hoarding information as politicians, scientists, doctors & drug dealers.
September 27, 2019 at 5:15 PM
lol drug dealers….but you are right