The Press and the Revolution


nTo understand what led to revolution.

nTo explain the role of the press in inciting the American Revolution.

nTo understand the impact of the Revolution on the press.


Today’s Story

nVoices of Revolt




nThe Newspaper as a Potent Medium to Incite Revolution.

nImpact of the Revolution on the Practice of Journalism


Reluctant Revolution

nSeven Years’ War (French and Indian War)

uNearly bankrupts Britain

uColonists get a biggg head


Reluctant Revolution

nStamp Act of 1765

uNo taxation without representation

uHit lawyers and journalists


Voices of Revolt

nThe Tories

nThe Whigs

nThe Patriots


The Tories

nPolitical Philosophy

üRetain the basic structure of colonial society

üContinues governing by right of property, heredity, position, and tradition

nPolitical Press

üJames Rivington


James Rivington

nThe Journalist


üFamily publishers of religious books

üProprietor of the first chain of bookstores in America

üPublished the very profitable Gazetteer


James Rivington


üRespected for his objectivity that was not standard in this era


The Whigs

nPolitical Philosophy

üNarrow view of liberty

üNo taxation without representation

üNo interest in the rise of common man

üProperty rights over human rights

nPolitical Press

üJohn Dickinson


John Dickinson

nPenman of the Revolution

üWrote Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania

Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania

nPrepared public for revolution


üNew York Assembly

üTownshend Revenue Acts


The Patriots

nPolitical Philosophy

üRepudiate the home country

üParliament ignored basic rights

nPolitical Press

üSamuel Adams

üIsaiah Thomas


Samuel Adams

nMaster of the puppets

üWrote for the Gazette

üAdvertised advantages of victory

üAroused the masses

üNeutralized opponents’ arguments


Samuel Adams


üUsed the colonial newspaper to ignite the American Revolution as he pulled the strings of the actors.


Samuel Adams

nSons of Liberty

nJournal of Occurrences


Sons of Liberty

nCore of the revolutionary movement

nFormed after the Stamp Act of 1765


üBoston Massacre of 1770

üThe Tea Act of 1773

üBoston Harbor Closing of 1774


Journal of Occurrences

nTracked movement and actions of soldiers throughout colonies


Isaiah Thomas

nPublisher of the Massachusetts Spy

üMost incendiary publication during the Revolution

üOutspoken in his advocacy for independence

nWrote first history of printing in America


Influence of the Patriot Press

nThe exertions of the army would have been insufficient to effect the revolution, unless the great body of the people had been prepared for it, and also kept in a constant disposition to oppose Great Britain. In establishing American independence, the pen and the press had a merit equal to that of the sword.”

nDAVID RAMSEY, Patriot who participated in Revolutionary activities and then wrote the earliest history of the war


Newspaper as Revolutionary Force

nFactors making newspapers a potent medium for Revolution--

üYouth of proprietors

üCrown’s halt of licensing led to proliferation of newspapers


Two Stages of Transformation in 18th Century Colonial Newspapers

 #Stage 1: 1720 

The advent of competition brought about the emergence of public debate in the press.


#Stage 2: 1765

Newspapers take on partisan identity as the Crown imposes a stamp tax on the colonies              


The Revolutionary War’s Impact on the Press





The Revolutionary War’s Impact on the Press


uGenerated thirst for news

uEditions increase from once a week to two or three times a week   


The Revolutionary War’s Impact on the Press


uPrivate post riders

uDelivery boys

uTrained pigeons


The Revolutionary War’s Impact on the Press

nForerunners of the Newspaper Editorial

uDistinction between news and comment

uEditorial page develops from partisan style of writing—lead followed by commentary 



nNewspaper competition brought competing philosophies which generated political discourse—erupting into war.

nThe press was indispensable in affecting public sentiment leading to the Revolution.