"A torrent of words": colonial printers and the public, 1765-1775

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Publication Type honors thesis
School or College College of Humanities
Department History
Faculty Mentor Eric Hinderaker
Creator Davis, Ryan
Title "A torrent of words": colonial printers and the public, 1765-1775
Year graduated 2012
Date 2012-05
Description Although printers had long been important in colonial society and politics, it was not until 1765 that they fully realized their potential in shaping colonial attitudes and behavior. With Parliament's institution of the Stamp Act, an outraged public insisted that newspaper publishers assume a more active role in reflecting its increasing anger and politicization. The subsequent relationship that developed between printers and their readership became a dynamic exchange in which individuals demanded a press that expressed colonial sentiment while printers simultaneously realized their importance in shaping public opinion. This paper examines the fluid relations between printers and readers that began in 1765 and set a pattern that held through the American Revolution and beyond. By analyzing primary documents such as newspapers, cartoons, and town meeting minutes and comparing those sources to modern historical interpretations of the Stamp Act, this paper traces the transformation of colonial printers from passive bystanders at the outset of 1765 to powerful shapers of public opinion by the time of the Stamp Act's repeal. This paper also explains how American colonists, both individually and collectively, influenced and controlled the content of newspapers they read and reacted to. Although opposition to the Stamp Act launched printers to positions of prominence within the colonies, printers remained subject to public sentiment when deciding upon the content of their publications. This interplay of power between colonists and printers, which first emerged in 1765, formed a tradition of reading and reacting that would influence colonial behavior throughout the following decade of struggle against British interference and the quest for independence that followed.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Subject Printing - Social aspects - United States - History - 18th century
Language eng
Rights Management (c) Ryan Davis
Format Medium application/pdf
Format Extent 7,876,711 bytes
Permissions Reference URL https://collections.lib.utah.edu/details?id=1254100
ARK ark:/87278/s6tq99sn
Setname ir_htoa
Date Created 2016-10-12
Date Modified 2021-05-06
ID 205774
Reference URL https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6tq99sn
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