Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"Pressing Down on the Chesapeak

In reading chapter two in Starr, i came across something very interesting, and that is that the Chesapeake colonies (Maryland and Virginia) were very different then New England regarding there press, and printing ideas. The Governor of Virginia, William Berkeley writes in a letter to England...

I thank God, there are no free-schools, nor printing; and I hope we shall not have these [for a] hundred years...For learning has brought disobedience, and heresy, and sects into the world, and printing has divulged them, and libels against the best government. God keep us from both! (Starr p 53)

At this time in Virginia, printers who published anything against the people who had some sort of political pull, were often beaten. With that said, there were books in Virginia at this time, but they were only for wealthy planters or elite people in society. These elite members of society did not want the lower class to get a hold of books or print things about how they felt about current issues at that time because they were scared. Scared of the lower class raising important issues and possibly going against the church. The upper class did not want this, thus they basically kept books and knowledge away from the lower class. This was a sharp contrast in light of all the printing and ideas that were going around New England at this time.

In New England, book ownership ran from the large collections of Harvard Library and prominent ministers down to the Bibles, almanacs, and sermons of many ordinary readers. (Starr p 53)


At 12:47 PM, Blogger A. Mattson said...

A very good post and a very famous quotation.

There were indeed regional differences in the reaction to the spread of popular literacy and printing in the colonies. The Governor of Virginia was echoing the sentiments of a European aristocracy threated by the common people. The Puritans fled Europe in part so that they could print what they wished and spread the gospel in the vernacular as widely as possible.


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