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[120] matter of fact, from the time of the Stamp Act, political essays of every description filled the newspapers, and what one paper published was soon reprinted in others. Thus the influence of the press in this critical period can hardly be overrated. If the “pumpkin Gentry” of New England (to use a tory phrase) took offence at some encroachment, gentlemen planters of the South were sure to read the whole case in a few weeks and, in spite of their differing civilization, to sympathize with the Northern firebrands. When Dr. Arthur Lee sent home to The Virginia gazette his Monitor, a series of essays describing hostile conditions in London, and urging his countrymen to non-importation, it was not by any means his countrymen of Virginia alone who heard the call. The Monitor has something of the distinguished style of the Farmer, and it is natural that the two should have been published together in a Williamsburg edition. Revolutionary Virginia burgesses always toasted the Farmer's and Monitor's letters together. But essays of an entirely different type also appeared constantly. Republicans and Loyalists fought violent battles under assumed classical names. Constitutionalis, Massachusettensis, Senex, Novanglus, Pacificus, Caesariensis, Amicus Publico, Cunctator, Virginius, Mucius Scaevola, Cato, Scipio, Leonidas, Brutus, and many more argued hotly and often powerfully the whole question of allegiance, on abstract grounds.

Isaiah Thomas's Massachusetts spy shows the course of this long battle. Constantly on the verge of being suppressed, from its establishment in 1770 to the Revolution, it carried radicalism to its logical conclusion. When the Spy began to be reprinted in other papers, as “the most daring production ever published in America,” the country as a whole was ready for Tom Paine's Common sense.

In regard to other forms of periodical literature before the Revolution, it is often difficult to draw precise distinctions.1 Newspapers are easily enough distinguished in general by the attempt to give items of current news. Outside the regular news sheets, there is a strange assortment of colonial productions usually classed as magazines, but in many cases hardly

1 Mr. Albert Matthews notes this difficulty in his bibliography of New England magazines. See his Lists of New England magazines, in Publications of the colonial Society of Massachusetts, vol. XIII, pp. 69-74.

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