The New-England Courant

The New-England Courant
The New-England Courant
NewEngladCourant logo.gif
NewEngladCourant 00001.jpg
August 7, 1721 first issue
Type Daily newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Publisher James Franklin
Founded August 7, 1721
Ceased publication June 25, 1726

The New-England Courant (also spelled New England Courant) is one of the oldest and the first truly independent American newspapers. It was founded in Boston on August 7, 1721 by James Franklin, Benjamin Franklin's older brother. The newspaper participated in several controversies and was suppressed in 1727. Although Ben Franklin started in the newspaper as a typesetter, he later wrote over a dozen articles under the fictitious name Silence Dogood.

Beside political bravery, the Courant also made a number of innovations. It was the first American newspaper to use literary content and humorous essays. It was also the most expensive newspaper of that time, at 4 pence a copy. The print shop was located off Queen Street in Dorset Alley and remains a tourist attraction.



Although James Franklin’s friends advised him against doing so, on August 7, 1721, the first issue of The New England Courant was published. During time of publication, the smallpox epidemic was breaking out in Boston, home of The New England Courant. Since distraction rose due to the spread of the disease, the intellect of the city declined as well. [1] The newspaper itself, however, saved James’s struggling printing business. Because of this, James Franklin’s younger brother, Benjamin Franklin, had to serve as his apprentice at the young age of 12. Benjamin’s apprenticeship included all sorts of odd jobs, including issuing pamphlets, linens and silks. This was until the publication of The New England Courant.

The newspapers that came off the presses before The New England Courant were badly done, without proper syntax and grammar. The language of the Courant set the tone for the next 100 years or more of American journalism. Despite its numerous outstanding reviews, the Courant was a simple newspaper, only a single sheet, printed on both sides, focusing mostly on shipping reports, snippets of information from neighboring towns, and letters from Europe. Its real substance was in letters to the editor from the Boston wits, poking fun at the city’s morals and manners.

During the peak of the Courant's fame, the relationship between James and Benjamin Franklin suffered. Finally, in 1723, Benjamin Franklin left Boston for Philadelphia, where he later made great contributions to media history.[2] On the other hand, many viewed the Courant’s content as “talking trash,” just like other newspapers during this time. Despite this negatively connotated reputation, The New England Courant stands as the basis of a humane and enduring society. [3]


  1. ^ "The Story of the New-England Courant". 
  2. ^ American Media History, Second Edition
  3. ^ "In the Beginning...Our Paradoxical Press"

Further reading

  • Perry Miller. The New-England Courant: A Selection of Certain Issues (Boston: Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1956)

External links

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