Skip to comments.The Press of a Patriot : The Importance of Free Republic
Posted on 01/05/2008 6:21:14 PM PST by bd476
The Press of a Patriot
Norfolk's first newspaper, the Virginia Gazette, or Norfolk Intelligencer, had a brief but memorable existance. Its first issue appeared on June 9, 1774, and what is believed to have been its last issue left the press on September 27, 1775.
The four-page weekly, the only known copies of which are preserved in the Library of Congress, was first published by William S. Duncan & Company, whose printing office was on the east side of the Parade or Market Square, later known as Commercial Place.
Arbitrary Governance Leading to Suppression of Freedom
In April of 1775, John Hunter Holt became its publisher and the firm's name was changed to John H. Holt & Company. Holt, an ardent patriot and a *son of John Holt, the public printer in Williamsburg, continued to issue the paper until it was suppressed late in September of 1775 by Lord Dunmore, the last royal governor of Virginia.
Mounting Resistance Forces Royal Governor to Flee
Because of mounting resistance to his arbitrary actions on the part of Virginia patriots, Dunmore had fled from Williamsburg in June of 1775 to the safety of the British warships in Norfolk-area waters.
And as Norfolk had a large Tory element, he had made its harbor the base of his operations. This gave Holt his cue, and his paper began a steady, merciless needling of the unpopular governor.
Matters came to a head when Holt's paper of September 27, 1775, presumably contained several pointed reflections on the alleged treasonous actions on the part of Dunmore's father in the Jacobite Rebellion under Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745.
Seizure of Printing Press
This and other taunts spurred Dunmore into action. And at noon on Saturday, September 30, 1775, he sent an officer and a detachment of British sailors and soldiers ashore to "the dirty little Borough of Norfolk" to confiscate Holt's press and printing materials and to capture Holt if possible.
No Resistance Leads to Confiscation and Imprisonment
Meeting no resistance, the landing party marched to the printing shop and seized Holt's "press, tipes, paper, ink, two of the printers, and all of the utensils." Holt's bookbinder, a man named Cumming, was also taken prisoner, but Holt, who according to one account of the fracas was hiding in the building, was not captured.
Witnessing Without Resisting Makes An Unsafe Land
The raid was witnessed by several hundred persons, but apparently no one seemed inclined to do anything about the high-handed action.
And after the landing party, with its loot and prisoners, returned to the boats, the onlookers were "joined by a crowd of negroes" in three loud huzzas.
The account containing this comment, dated Norfolk, September 30, 1775, continues:
"A few spirited gentlemen in Norfolk, justly incensed at so flagrant a breach of good order and the Constitution, and highly resenting the conduct of Lord Dunmore and the navy gentry, who have now commenced downright pirates and banditti, ordered the drum to beat to arms, but were joined by few or none; so that it appears Norfolk is at present a very insecure place for the life or property of any individual, and is consequently deserted daily by numbers of the inhabitants, with their effects."
Immediately after the raid, Norfolk Mayor Paul Loyall protested that it was "illegal and riotous", but Dunmore, who had watched the incident through a spyglass from one of his ships, arrogantly told Loyall that he had done Norfolk a favor by "scotching the printed viper that was pouring its poison in their midst."
Dunmore's seizure of Holt's press caused a hue and cry, and the Williamsburg papers stepped up their campaign against him, even alleging that he had "dared offer violence to the chastity of a poor innocent girl" from the Norfolk Poor House and had also kept a mistress while he was in Williamsburg.
But that didn't effect the return of Holt's press, which was used by Dunmore to print a short-lived paper of his own aboard one of the ships.
Holt retaliated by announcing that he would set up another press in Norfolk, but this was prevented by the burning of the borough a few months later.
Holt then joined the Revolutionary Army, and after Yorktown he was associated with John Dixon in publishing the Richmond Virginia Gazette and Independent Chronicle. He died in 1787.
* The Journal was a zealous advocate for the American Revolution. John Holt, the printer, showed his support in his imaginative masthead.
The double coiled snake with its tail in its mouth proclaims on the body,
United Now Alive and Free,
Firm on the basis Liberty shall stand,
And thus supported, ever bless our land,
Till Time becomes Eternity."
The snake swallowing its tail is a symbol for eternity. Within the coils is a pillar standing on the Magna Carta surmounted by the cap of liberty. The pillar on each side is supported by six arms and hands, representing the colonies.
On July 11, Holt devoted a whole page to the Declaration of Independence, using a large typeface and embellishing it with a border of printers decorations, the most elaborate printing of a government document up to this time.
Publishing the Declaration of Independence
The above short history of John Hunter Holt rang a bell for me, a liberty bell, if you will. There exists an uncanny echo from yesterday's history to today's headlines.
The importance of a free press and the vitality of independent commentary as found on Free Republic has significant historical roots in the founding and preservation of our great country.
The "sound" of new ideas, conservative activism, critical commentary, intelligent discussion and banter are found right here on Free Republic 24 hours a day, each and every day delivered free over the internet. The discussions on Free Republic are "heard" by those whom we elect to govern us as well as those who would take away our freedoms.
The many parallels found in the history of one printer and publisher to this online conservative forum, Free Republic, spell out the critical importance of keeping Free Republic in working order.
Do not be an idle witness to today's assaults on all Conservatives' freedoms. Become a monthly donor to Free Republic or make whatever contribution you feel that you can afford today.
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I Pay-Pal’d it today.
Great news, and thank you, Doug. How interesting that you are the very first poster on this thread. While reading the history of John Holt above, some of your interesting threads and comments on Free Republic came to mind. :-)
Fascinating. Like two people discovering calculus at the same time.
Nice post, bump!
Good evening and the very best to you and yours.
I sent mine yesterday, I got mine on the way before DFU did. Ha Ha Ha.
Good evening and the very best to you and yours.
Thank you, Texican!
Thanks do the dhue. This is also good.
THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.
Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER," and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God...
The American Crisis by Thomas Paine : I
Great post and thanks!
Thank you and hi do the dhue, just saw your post today.
Thanks Jean S, and hi!
Thanks for the Bump!
A BTT for a great post. I’d encourage anyone with the means to consider - is FR worth a buck a day to you? Less than a cup of coffee?
Thank you for pinging me to my thread from January 2008
The Press of a Patriot : The Importance of Free Republic.
Here's a new one A Significant, Relevant Fourth of July.