The Pennsylvania Gazette, which was published from 1728 until 1800, was one of the most renowned and successful newspapers in the American colonies and early republic. The publication was founded in 1729 in Philadelphia by Benjamin Franklin and Hugh Meredith. For more information on Benjamin Franklin, see our page on him.
Pennsylvania's first newspaper, it was an early champion of American freedom of speech and press laws. It also played a crucial role in the life of Thomas Jefferson, who as a young lawyer wrote an article for the paper that led to his becoming its editor.
The Pennsylvania Gazette published news and advertisements, carried letters from readers, and included poems and stories written by various authors. Most articles were reprinted from other publications, but some were original works by well-known writers such as Franklin, Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton.
In addition to being important for its own content, the Pennsylvania Gazette served as an inspiration for many other newspapers that followed it into existence. Today, few people are aware of this fact because there are very few surviving examples of early American newspapers available for viewing. However, several libraries across the country have copies of the Pennsylvania Gazette that date back to the earliest days of journalism in America.
Franklin and Hugh Meredith used their newspaper to promote themselves and their ideas, helping them become some of America's first public figures.
The Philadelphia Gazette, founded in 1728, was the city's second newspaper. In 1729, Franklin and a partner, Hugh Meredith (ca. 1697–ca. 1749), purchased the failing publication and swiftly transformed it into a well-written, well-edited, and well-printed newspaper. They hired John Peter Zenger as editor and published his first edition on November 2 of that year.
Franklin and Meredith were able to exploit xenophobic fears among Americans against the growing number of immigrants from Europe who were arriving in their country by printing articles that attacked the behavior of these foreigners. This made the Gazette very popular among its readers - especially since it was the only newspaper then available in the colonies. In addition, the paper had a large amount of advertising revenue because of its wide circulation.
In 1730, after publishing 13 editions, Franklin and Meredith sold the paper to William Bradford for $10,000. Bradford continued to print the paper under his own name until his death in 1750, when it was bought by Joseph Galloway (1712–1777). Galloway changed the paper's name to the Pennsylvania Evening Post and gradually reduced Franklin's role in its management. He fired Franklin as postmaster in 1754 and stopped publishing some of his essays. The last article by Franklin to be included in the Post was "Some Reflections on Reprinting" which appeared in its October 7, 1755, issue.
Fortunately, Meredith understood that he would be better suited returning to his true passion, farming. Franklin purchased his portion of the company and became the sole owner. Franklin pounced on the opportunity to buy the Pennsylvania Gazette from his old boss, Samuel Keimer, on October 2, 1729. The price was set at $15,000 in present-day dollars.
Franklin also bought out Keimer's other partners, including William Penn. Thus, Franklin owned the paper entirely by himself until his death four years later.
During his lifetime, Franklin managed to make many improvements to the paper. For example, he increased the size of its pages from eight to twelve inches by using wood instead of linen as they did before. He also set up a system where employees could apply for leave of absence, which previously had been granted only by Franklin himself.
After Franklin's death, the paper continued to be published by his son Benjamin (1657-1748).
Today, the Gazette is again being published by a family member. Thomas Franklin publishes an alternative newspaper called the Philadelphia Inquirer. It has several branches, including one online at inquirer.com.
However, even though Thomas publishes the Inquirer, it is not actually owned by him. Instead, he contracts with different owners to print and distribute it.
Pennsylvania Historical Society There are just three known copies of the initial release. They may be found at the Pennsylvania Historical Society, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the Wisconsin Historical Society. Under Franklin's leadership, the Gazette grew to become the most successful newspaper in the colonies. It earned this reputation by publishing accurate, up-to-date reports on American politics and public affairs that were unavailable elsewhere.
The Pennsylvania Gazette was one of the first newspapers in America. It was established in 1701 by Benjamin Franklin as a means of informing his father's friend William Penn about what was happening in the world outside their colony. The paper was an immediate success, and soon after its launch it began to print other people's articles too!
Franklin was assisted in running the paper by Hugh Gaine who served as editor from 1701 to 1730. During this time the paper had more than one issue per week. In addition to printing news stories, the editors also printed letters to the readers which often included advice on personal matters or comments on current events.
In 1730 Hugh Gaine retired and was replaced by Thomas Godfrey who managed to keep the paper going for another six years. In 1736 Pennsylvania's assembly passed legislation requiring all printers to own their own printing presses and hire someone to run them. As a result, only two papers were published in Philadelphia after this date: the Pennsylvania Journal and the Pennsylvania Evening Post.
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