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The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Boston News Letter

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BOSTON NEWS LETTER, the first real newspaper of America, edited by John Campbell (q.v.), a Scotch bookseller and postmaster of Boston, who had been actively writing and sending “news letters” of European occurrences to New England governors for a year or more and thought it would save trouble to print them for all. With official permission he issued on 24 April 1704, the first number of a weekly consisting of a single leaf, 8 x 12, printed on both sides and dated “From Monday, April 17, to Monday, April 24, 1704.” It was printed by Bartholomew Green, for many years one of the best printers of Boston, who in 1722 became its editor. Dying in 1732, he was succeeded by his son-in-law, John Draper, who conducted it till his death in 1762 and made it a representative of the best interests of the province; he was a journalist of the highest character. His son, Richard Draper, considered the best news compiler of his day, though in feeble health, edited the paper till his death in 1774, when his widow succeeded him and carried it to the end. Draper had been an ardent loyalist and firmly supported the mother country in the stormy times of the previous decade; his widow naturally shared his feeling, and when the young man, Robert Boyle, whom she installed as editor, showed sympathy with the Revolution, she replaced him by John Howe, who conducted it till the British evacuated Boston, 17 March 1776, when he and Mrs. Draper left with them and the paper ceased to exist. The British government gave her a life pension. There are only three copies of the first number extant: in the Massachusetts Historical Society at Boston, the American Antiquarian Society at Worcester, Mass., and the New York Historical Society at New York. A facsimile of the first page is given in the ‘Memorial History of Boston,’ Vol. II, page 389. See American Newspapers. Consult Weeks, L. H., Bacon, E. M., ‘An Historical Digest of the Provincial Press 1689-1783’ (Vol. I, Boston 1911).