[Read at a meeting of the Medford
Historical Society, May 21, 1923.]
In 1718 James Franklin
sailed for London
and secured type and printing press
and immediately began the printing of pamphlets and books; and soon became the printer of the Boston Gazette
, the official paper of the province.
In 1721 Franklin
established the New England Courant
. The Courant
began in the midst of one of the greatest small pox epidemics Boston
ever had. Doctors Increase
and Cotton Mather
were ardent advocates of inoculation, and strongly supported by Dr. Zabdiel Boylston
with great freedom of expression wrote of affairs which brought the wrath of the provincial officials upon him. Franklin
printed an item regarding pirate vessels in the vicinity of Block Island
, and that Captain Pete Papillion
had raised a company and sailed against them.
It was an impolitic item to print, but was a scoop
on the part of an inexperienced printer.
The following day he was brought before the governor on the Speakers' warrant, and spent a month in jail.
His younger brother, Ben Franklin
, only seventeen years old, became editor for a time, and for legal reasons his name continued as publisher for three or four years. The printshop of James Franklin
was on the site of the Old Colony Trust Company.
During these years Franklin
printed an ‘Arithmetic’; a book on ‘Music’ by Thomas Walter
, stated to be the first music printed in bars; also printed astronomical books for Professors Greenwood
of Harvard College, and many sermons by the Doctors Mather
printed books of superior grade, which did not meet with a sale they deserved.
Bankruptcy followed, and in 1727 James Franklin
removed to Newport, R. I.
, where he entered at once upon a more prosperous career.
He obtained the printing of the plantation, and several volumes of Bishop Berkley
, an annual Almanac, and conducted a short-lived newspaper.