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In 1772 Jacob Duche wrote: “The poorest labourer upon the shore of the Delaware thinks himself entitled to deliver his sentiment in matters of religion or politics with as much freedom as the gentleman or scholar. Such is the prevailing taste for books of every kind, that almost every man is a reader.” J. D. Hart, The Popular Book: A History of America’s Literary Taste. New York, Oxford University Press, 1950.

The Boston News-Letter began publication in 1704, and is generally regarded as the first continuously published American newspaper. Then came the Boston Gazette in 1719, and the New England Courant in 1721, published by Benjamin Franklin’s older brother, James. By 1730 there were seven newspapers published regularly in four colonies, and by 1800 there were 180 newspapers.

Alexis de Tocqueville published Democracy in America in 1835. He wrote that “parties do not write books to combat each other’s opinions, but pamphlets which are circulated with incredible rapidity… The invention of firearms equalized the vassal and the noble on the field of battle, and the art of printing opened the same resources to the minds of all classes - to the door of the cottage and the gate of the palace.”

Newspapers published 85 essays in 1787 called the Federalist papers by Alexander Hamilton , James Madison, and John Jay. They were read and discussed widely in both the South and the North.

Charles Dickens visited in 1842: adulation in every city. “never a king or emperor on earth so cheered and entertained at splendid balls and dinners…” Harriet Beecher Stowe: Uncle Tom’s Cabin sold 350,000 copies in its first year.

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