american newspapers – benjamin franklin


the story of American newspapers – come si spargevano le notizie nelle colonie?

When English people colonized America, they brought with them their traditions and customs. The coffee houses were among them: their role was the same as those in England, they soon became the centre where people could talk about business and cultural news . An example? The Tontine Coffee House (1792) in New York was the original location for the New York Stock Exchange (la Borsa ).

As to newspapers, the first publication appeared in Boston in 1690 when Benjamin Harris published Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick. The editor’s intention was to publish a weekly newspaper, but after one edition (September 25, 1690) the government suppressed it. On April 24, 1704, the John Campbell, a bookseller and postmaster (direttore di ufficio postale) of Boston was allowed to publish The Boston News-Letter. It was the first continuously published weekly newspaper in the colonies, even if with a limited circulation. Originally, it consisted of a single page printed on both sides and dealt mainly with the British political intrigues, and the details of European wars.

A great event reported was the pirate Blackbeard’s (pirata Barbanera) capture (1718) during a direct combat on a ship which he was trying to rob. The following editor was Bartholomew Green (1722) who focused more on domestic events. After his death in 1732 , with his son, John Draper, the paper was made of four pages and started reporting about news from all the colonies.

Benjamin Franklin – il primo vero giornalista Americano

Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790) after a period of apprenticeship (apprendistato) as a printer (stampatore), started The New England Courant together with his brother James. It was the first newspaper in Boston with articles, opinion pieces written by James’s friends, advertisements, and news about ships departures and arrivals. Soon Ben got fame (divenne) writing letters with the name of a fictional widow (vedova immaginaria), Silence Dogood, who was very critical of the world around her, particularly about women problem and how they were treate (trattate). In Philadelphia he started his own printing business (tipografia) and, in 1730, together with his wife, Deborah Read, he created a print shop, and a book store. In 1729, Franklin bought a newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette where the first political cartoon appeared, written by Ben himself. Meanwhile (nel frattempo) Franklin continued his civic contributions (contributi sociali): he launched (lanciò) projects for an environmental clean (pulizia dell’ambiente) and for the illumination of Philadelphia’s streets; he helped to launch the American Philosophical Society, the first learned society in America; he formed the Pennsylvania Hospital; he organized Philadelphia’s Union Fire Company and helped to found the Philadelphia Contribution for Insurance Against Loss by Fire (Asssicurazione per gli incendi). All these institutions still exist. In the early 1750’s he turned to the study of electricity. His observations, including his kite experiment verified the nature of electricity and lightning and brought Franklin international fame. In the 1750s politics attracted his interest and he went to England to represent Pennsylvania. Georgia, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Then Franklin started working for American independence after the “Hutchinson Affair.” Thomas Hutchinson was a governor of Massachusetts appointed by the English government who pretended (faceva finta) to take the side of the people of Massachusetts, but was actually in realtà) working for the King. Franklin was elected to the Second Continental Congress and worked on a committee of five for the draft (bozza) of the Declaration of Independence. In 1776 Franklin signed the Declaration, and went to France for the Treaty of Alliance with the Americans in 1778. Back to America he became President of the Executive Council of Pennsylvania, delegate to the Constitutional Convention, and wrote an anti-slavery treatise in 1789.

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