Back in the days when I was in school one of the little factoids that I learned that stuck with me was the that the first newspaper in the Colonies was Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick which was issued on September 25, 1690 in Boston.
What I was not told in school was that within days of first appearing and before any second addition could be printed, it was suppressed by the Governor and Council of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
It was also, depending how you define it, not really the first newspaper. Single page broadsides containing local news and reports picked up from merchant ships about affairs in the Motherland and in Europe, were sporadically printed earlier. What differentiated this effort, which was printed by Richard Pierce and edited by Benjamin Harris, was that it contained multiple pages and was meant to be issued regularly under the same title—monthly or “or, if any Glut of Occurrences happen, oftener.”
The paper had four six by ten inch pages. Editor Harris could, however, only find enough news for to fill three of them. Perhaps the need to pad the paper is what got it in trouble. In addition to local gossip, like the grieving widower who hung himself, epidemics of “fevers and agues” as well as small pox, and a fire that had consumed much of the city, the big news of the day was the war with the French—King Williams War—and attempts by colonial forces and their native allies to invade Canada.
|The editor objected to the use of Native auxiliaries in the invation of Canada during King William's War after he heard reports of them torturing and killing captured French troops.|