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OLD NEW YORK.

AUGUST, 1889.

NOTES ON THE HISTORY OF PRINTING IN

NEW YORK.

In the year 1693, New York, having then been under the domination of the English for more than a quarter of a century, or since 1664, the population continually increasing, it was resolved by the authorities of this province to establish here a printing press, as the College at Cambridge had done, and as had been more lately attempted by the Quakers in Pennsylvania. The Council desired to have its acts and public papers legibly published, for the majority of the inhabitants were not of English blood and understood that language with difficulty, the legal customs also being much different from those to which they had been accustomed; the only master of type and press in the whole surrounding country had quarreled with the ruling faction in Philadelphia, where he then was, and was very desirous of removing to this city, while the Governor had a personal reason for extending the favors of the province to any competent follower of Caxton who should take up his residence here. Col. Fletcher was a professional soldier, and during the preceding Winter, by his skillful conduct of a campaign on the frontier, had won praises not only from his fellow officers, but from the provincial levies and the Indians, who had named him the “Great Swift Arrow," on account of the celerity which he had shown in reaching the scene of hostilities. But a colonial reputation was too limited. He was an English soldier and desired English approbation. Were there a printer in New York, an account of his expedition could be put in type and sent home to England, delighting his friends, preserving the fame of his deeds to posterity, and probably securing his further advancement. On this theory he acted. The Legislature, therefore, passed the requisite act, the press being immediately removed hither and set at work. One of its first productions, perhaps the very first, was a history of this campaign which is now entirely lost as an imprint of New York, but still survives in a reimpression made in London. Part of the object was gained. The Governor is remembered by posterity, but not for his exploits that Winter. They have passed into oblivion. What he is known for is on account of his efforts to plant the English Church, now called the Protestant Episcopal, upon this soil, and for the kindly hand he extended to Bradford, the printer.

Churchmen are at present agreed that his exertions to force Anglicanism upon this city and province were unwise and injurious. The Church grew very little faster than it would have done if left to itself, while its almost complete annihilation at the Revolution would probably not have occurred had it not been so closely identified with the British crown and British authority. Col. Fletcher's merit at this day lies in his discovery of the Quaker printer, the encouragement he gave him to remove, and the solid foundation on which he placed the press during his administration. The workman who had been at the mercy of the majority of a religious sect, and had been thrown by it into prison, was called here to be the first of a long line of printers, publishers and editors, multiplying fourfold in each generation, and preserving for all future time their thoughts and knowledge. The one occupation has now become a hundred, and the one workman twenty thousand. Of all these was he the forerunner.

William Bradford was then thirty years of age. He was born in Leicestershire, England, on the 20th of May, 1663. It is probable his parents, William and Anne Bradford, were Quakers, for when he grew of a sufficient age they apprenticed their son to Andrew Sowle, printer in Grace Church street, London, who was a member of the Society of Friends, and did its printing. He was a man of eminence in the craft. A life of him is extant contained in a volume called Piety Promoted, chiefly a descrip

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