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Scottish American Journalists

The first newspaper printed in North America, The Boston News-Letter for April 24, 1704, was published by a Scot, John Campbell (1653-1728), bookseller and postmaster of Boston. John Mein and John Fleming, the founders and publishers of The Boston Chronicle (1767) were both born in Scotland. The paper was printed "on a new and handsome type, a broad faced long primer, from an Edinburgh foundry, and typographically far surpassed any paper that had appeared before it in New England." David Hall (c. 1714-1772), born in Edinburgh, emigrated to America shortly after 1740, became a partner of Benjamin Franklin in 1748. He was printer of the Pennsylvania Gazette, one of the few leading newspapers of the day, and one of the founders of the St. Andrew's Society of Philadelphia. His son, William (died 1831), who carried on the printing business, was one of the original members of the "Light Horse of the City of Philadelphia," afterwards known as "The First City Troop," and served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Robert Aitken (1734-1802), born in Dalkeith, Scotland, printer and publisher in Philadelphia in 1769, was publisher of the Pennsylvania Magazine from January 1775 to June 1776, the first magazine in Philadelphia containing illustrations, most of which were engraved by Aitken himself. He also published, at his own expense, in 1782, the first English Bible printed in America. Major Andrew Brown (c. 1744-1797), born in the north of Ireland of Scottish parents, was publisher of the Federal Gazette, later (1793) changed to Philadelphia Gazette. He is credited with being the first newspaper man to employ a reporter for the debates in Congress. It may here be mentioned that the publisher of the first directory of Philadelphia and its suburbs (1782), was a Scot, Captain John Macpherson (1726-92). James Adams, Delaware's first printer (1761), was an Ulster Scot who learned the art of printing in Londonderry and founded the Wilmington Courant in 1762. Col. Eleazer Oswald (1755-1795), of Scottish origin, though born in England, rendered brilliant service on the side of the colonies during the Revolution. In 1779 he became associated with William Goddard in the Maryland Journal, the first newspaper printed in Baltimore. Later removing to Philadelphia he issued the first number of the Independent Gazetteer, or the Chronicle of Freedom, April 13, 1782, and at the same time he also conducted in New York The Independent Gazetteer, or New York Journal (1782-87). The first daily paper published in Baltimore (1791) was by David Graham. Alexander Purdie, a native of Scotland, was editor of the Virginia Gazette from March 1766 to December 1774. Shortly after this date he started a Gazette of his own, and in the issue of his paper for June 7, 1776, he printed the heraldic device of a shield, on which is a rattlesnake coiled, with supporters, dexter, a bear collared and chained, sinister, a stag. The crest is a woman's head crowned and the motto: Don't tread on me. Adam Boyd (1738-1803), colonial printer and preacher, purchased the printing outfit of another Scot, Andrew Stuart, who had set up the first printing press in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1763. In 1769 (Oct. 13) Boyd issued the first number of the Cape Fear Mercury, and continued it till 1776. James Johnston, born in Scotland, was the first to establish a printing press in Georgia (1762) and in April, 1763, began publication of The Georgia Gazette, which was published by him for twenty-seven years. His successor (1793) was another Scot, Alexander M'Millan, "Printer to the State." Robert Wells (1728-94), born in Scotland, was a publisher and bookseller in South Carolina for many years, and published the South Carolina and American General Gazette. John Wells, Florida's first printer (1784), born in Charleston, served his apprenticeship at Donaldson's printing house in Edinburgh. Matthew Duncan, son of Major Joseph Duncan, of Scottish ancestry, introduced printing into Illinois in 1809, and published the first newspaper there. Major Nathaniel McLean, brother of John McLean, one of the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, was one of the first publishers in Minnesota (1849, the same year in which printing was introduced into the state). The township of McLean, Ramsey county, was named in honor of him. There is mention of a printing press being set up in Michigan in 1785 by Alexander and William Macomb, but nothing further is known of it. The first book printed in Montana was in 1864, and in August of the same year John Buchanan founded the Montana Post at Virginia City. John Dunlap (1747-1812), an Ulster Scot born in Strabane, was Congressional Printer and first printed the Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Ritchie (1778-1854), born of Scottish parentage. He wielded a powerful influence for good in both the national and state politics of Virginia, and his funeral was attended by nearly all the distinguished men of the times, including the President. Ritchie County, West Virginia, was named in his honor. Francis Preston Blair (1791-1876), political writer, negotiator of peace conference at Hampton Roads in 1864, and editor of the Washington Globe, was a descendant of Commissary Blair of Virginia. James Gordon Bennett (1795-1872), born near Keith, Banffshire, pioneer of modern American journalism and founder of the New York Herald, a newspaper which has long wielded a great influence on political affairs. Horace Greeley (1811-72), founder of the New York Tribune, unsuccessful candidate for the Presidency in 1872, anti-slavery leader, and author of "The American Conflict" (1864-66), was of Ulster Scot descent. Of the same origin was Joseph Medill (1823-99), proprietor of the Chicago Tribune (1874); and Robert Bonner (1824-99), founder of the New York Ledger (1851), was born in Londonderry of Ulster Scot origin. James Thompson Callender (d. 1806), a political exile from Scotland, a controversial writer of great power, a severe critic of the administration of John Adams, founded the Richmond Recorder, predecessor of the Richmond Enquirer. John Swinton (1829-1901), born in Haddingtonshire, was editorial writer for the New York Times (1860-70), and Sun (1875-83, 1893-97). He took an active interest in social and industrial questions and was Progressive Labor Party's candidate for State Senator in 1887. James Redpath (1833-91), journalist and author, born in Berwick-on-Tweed, was prominently identified with the abolition movement, was organizer of the school system of South Carolina, founder of the Boston Lyceum Bureau, war correspondent for Northern newspapers during the Civil War, and author of several histories and biographical works. William Andrew Ure (b. 1839), of Scottish parentage, by his energy made the Newark, New Jersey, Sunday Call, one of the leading newspapers in the state. Whitelaw Reid is noted under Ambassadors. St. Clair McKelway (b. 1845), who became Regent and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the State of New York, was of Scots parentage. Andrew McLean, born in Renton, Dumbartonshire, in 1848, is editor-in-chief of the Brooklyn Citizen, which under his guidance has become an influential paper. Washington McLean and his son, John R. McLean, established one of the greatest newspapers in the Middle West, the Cincinnati Enquirer. David Alexander Munro (1848-1910), a native of Maryburgh, Ross-shire, educated at Edinburgh University, editor for many years of the North American Review. John Foord, born in Perthshire, came to the U.S. in 1869; became editorial writer on the New York Times and later editor-in-chief; after 1883, editor and publisher of the Brooklyn Union; editor of Harper's Weekly; leader writer on Journal of Commerce, and editor of Asia. Other journalists who may be mentioned are William Cauldwell (b. 1824) of New York, of Scottish parentage on both sides; George Dawson (1813-83) of Albany, born in Falkirk, Scotland; William Wiston Seaton (1785-1866) of Washington, D.C., a Regent of the Smithsonian Institution; and George Horace Lorimer (b. 1867), journalist and author of "Letters from a Self-made Merchant to His Son" (1902), etc. John J. McElhone (1832-90), famous as a stenographer and chief Official Reporter of the House of Representatives, was of Scottish ancestry.

Thomas Dobson, publisher of the first American edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1791), was a Scot who gave a great impulse to printing in the United States. Robert Carter (1807-89), publisher and founder of the house of Robert Carter and Brothers, so long and honorably known in New York city, was born in Earlston, Berwickshire. Henry Ivison (1808-84), born in Glasgow, became a prominent publisher in New York. His son, David Brinkerhoff Ivison, born in 1835, was also a prominent publisher and founder of the American Book Company. John Wilson (1802-68), born in Glasgow, was founder of the famous printing firm of John Wilson and Son of Cambridge, Massachusetts, now Harvard University Press. George Munro (1825-96), publisher of the Seaside Library, Fireside Companion, etc., was of Scottish descent. In the course of his life he gave away half a million dollars for educational purposes. Whatever may be thought of his appropriating the works of British authors without compensation it cannot be denied that he did a great deal to raise the literary taste among the poorer classes in this country. George William Quids (1829-94), publisher and proprietor of the Philadelphia Public Ledger, was of Scottish descent. Robert Clarke (1829-99), founded of the great Cincinnati publishing house of Robert Clarke and Co., was born in the town of Annan in Dumfriesshire. Norman Leslie Munro (1842-94), publisher of the Family Story Paper and founder of Munro's Publishing House, was born in Nova Scotia of Scottish ancestry.

John Baine, born in St. Andrews, in partnership with his grandson, established the first type-foundry in Philadelphia in 1787. Their firm cast the types for a portion of the American edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, reprinted in Philadelphia in 1791. Archibald Binny, (1763-1838), born in Portobello, near Edinburgh, and James Ronaldson (d. 1841), also born in Scotland, succeeded to and carried on the business established by Baine. In 1797 they cast the first $ sign used in this country. The quality and art of their product was in no wise inferior to the European and the sale of foreign made types ceased shortly after they established their business. Their foundry kept pace with the growth of the country and in the seventies of last century became the best and most extensive letter-foundry in the world. Archibald Binny loaned the United States Government the sum of 50,000 dollars for use in the war of 1812-14. Ronaldson was first president of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia (1824-41), an institution in which he took a great interest, and in 1831 presented to Philadelphia the beautiful cemetery bearing his name. He was described as "an upright, frugal and honest man, and a lover of his adopted country." George Bruce (1781-1866), born in Edinburgh, along with his brother David introduced the art of stereotyping, the secret of which David secured in Edinburgh. In 1816 they purchased a foundry for type making and stereotyping, and George Bruce in his seventy-eighth year of age produced type which has rarely been excelled for beauty of design and neatness of finish. "He did much toward facilitating American printing and towards making it a fine art, inventing, with the assistance of his nephew, David Bruce, Jr., a successful type-casting machine which has come into general use." Thomas Mackellar (1812-1899), printer and poet, also one of the leading type founders, was of Scottish parentage. William Vincent McKean, born in 1820 of Ulster Scot descent, was another distinguished type-founder and editor-in-chief of the Philadelphia Public Ledger for many years. Another individual who may be included under this head is Adam Ramage who was born in Scotland and died at an advanced age in Philadelphia in 1850. He was distinguished as a manufacturer of printing presses in the beginning of last century, and patented the "Ramage" press in 1818.

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