For my second semester at UMass, I decided to take challenge myself and take another journalism class to add to my mix of courses. The course is called “Readings in Journalism,” where we discuss other journalists’ work, some dating back to my favourite time period: the American Revolutionary War! For an assignment, I was tasked with researching Loyalist newspapers and whether or not they survived through the tumultuous era.
One Loyalist paper I discovered was The Massachusetts Gazette and the Boston Post-Boy and Advertiser (this is just one of the many ridiculous titles it had through it’s history.) Known now as the Boston Weekly Advertiser, the paper initially supported the British government until it’s later years where it correspondents became increasingly pro-American. Like almost every other Loyalist publisher, the paper stopped print in April 1775 shortly before the start of the war.
Through the use of the Boston Public Library and Newsbank (an online collection of historical texts) I was able to find a January 1775 issue of the Advertiser that shows it’s change of opinion.
Under it’s final title, the paper’s front page is littered with pro-American opinions vying for independence and ultimately, revolution. A front page piece, addressed “to Massachusettensis” accuses Britain of deceiving the colonists by exercising the right to assert power over them. Ironically the piece was written by “A British American.” The author continues to stress the colonists’ struggle by comparing them to slaves; he uses the word “slavish”. Perhaps the most shockingly anti-British statement is in a poem at the end of the article, in which the author urges the colonists not to “bow down to haughty, accursed tyrants.”
Another anonymous front page article highlights the strained relationship between the colonists and British government. The author discusses the lack of effectiveness in having the British and American governments coexist. He argues that the colonial government is pointless because it is only limited to what the British government will permit it to do. While not as controversial as “A British American’s” article, it again questions Britain’s role in the colonies.