“Trans-Atlantic Migration and the Printing Trade in Revolutionary America,” special issue on The Worlds of Mathew Carey, guest edited by Cathy Matson and James N. Green, Early American Studies 11, no. 3 (2013): 516-44.
During the American Revolutionary era, immigrant printers and their North American–born counterparts faced many struggles to secure sufficient business to remain solvent and simultaneously navigated complex political situations. Immigrant printers also faced the challenges of integrating themselves into extant commercial and political networks. They formed a substantial minority within the trade, making up nearly one-fourth of the master printers between 1756 and 1796. This essay examines the experiences of this group of printers, including Mathew Carey, and it focuses on their individual efforts to succeed in founding and furthering the publishing industry in the United States. In so doing, it explains how immigrant printers integrated themselves into American political and commercial information networks and highlights the vital role of their social capital and skills in achieving these printers’ goals during this era.
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“‘A Constitutional Conveyance of Intelligence, Public and Private:’ The Post Office, the Business of Printing, and the American Revolution,” Enterprise & Society 11, no. 4 (2010): 409-52.
Junior Prize, Rita Lloyd Moroney Award for Scholarship in Postal History, 2011
This essay argues that American printers motivated by a deep commercial interest in fast and effective communication worked to overturn the British imperial postal service in 1774 and 1775. Printers enlisted merchants and members of the revolutionary elite, who also relied on long-distance communication through the post office for their own commercial and political purposes, to provide financial and political support. In making their case, printers mobilized a broad array of political ideology and imagery already familiar to colonists during the decade-long imperial crisis, emphasizing the political necessity of replacing the imperial institution. At the same time, they uncontroversially asserted that a new American post office would safeguard their precarious commercial ventures. The essay therefore demonstrates that printers were not “mere mechanics” but actively shaped the political debates leading to the American Revolution as part of a process that scholars have recently highlighted in a work on the economic and commercial influences on the Revolution. Furthermore, it grants the post office its due as part of the Habermasian public sphere; although understudied, the post office—both as a physical space and as a network through which information could travel—was a crucial means by which Americans developed a national infrastructure for political communications. Exploring the overthrow of the British post office, and the creation of an American post office, reveals an understudied but crucial episode to explain the symbiosis between politics and commerce during the American Revolutionary era.
Review of Karen Weyler, Empowering Words: Outsiders and Authorship in Early America, Journal of Southern History 80, no. 4 (Nov. 2014), 942-43. View PDF.
“A Transatlantic Culture of News?” Review of Uriel Heyd, Reading Newspapers: Press and Public in Eighteenth-Century Britain and America, by Uriel Heyd, Common-place, 13, no. 1,October 2012.
Review of David Henkin, The Postal Age: The Emergence of Modern Communications in Nineteenth-Century America, Technology and Culture 49, no. 1 (2008): 272-273. Link to review through Project Muse.