Thursday, February 12, 2009

Influence of Print on Colonial America

The printing press and associated items such as newspapers and books had an interesting effect on pre revolutionary colonial America. The combination of distance from England and the protestant tradition of circulating information via print had the combining effect of creating an exceptionally literate and knowledgeable population. Especially in the northern colonies being literate was not seen as just a a privilege as it was in Europe, but an essential part of being a competent citizen. This along with the widespread printing of newspapers led to a fairly knowledgeable and worldly populace, which is what was needed for the seeds of discontent and revolution to be planted. When things started to go sour with England, it was newspapers that allowed the heads of the colonies, the Sam Adam's and Thomas Jefferson's, to communicate their grievances to the general public and make their case for separation form England. If print and the  widespread literacy that resulted because of it wasn't present in the colonies, the revolution may have never happened. Take a look Canada, it took them another century to become independent.


At 4:16 PM, Blogger A. Mattson said...

A good post.

One question:
How does the "distance from England" help to create "an exceptionally literate and knowledgeable population"?

Didn't Canada have Protestants, printing, and newspapers as well? Can you have a revolution without a popular press?


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