Abstract: Printers' Networks and the Business of Producing Political News in Revolutionary America

Joseph M. Adelman


This paper argues that printers were crucial mediators of political communications during the Revolution. Focusing on the business networks that printers established and developed through the ordinary course of running their printing offices reveals a new way to understand the production of revolutionary ideology. Through the everyday activity of running their businesses, printers came into contact with communication in oral, manuscript, and printed form. As editors and compilers, they made crucial decisions about what material to publish and what points to emphasize. Printers then circulated that news through their networks, producing revolutionary discourse mediated and generated by their business networks and interests. The paper therefore combines the traditional study of political history with the innovative methodologies of the history of the book to uncover the ways in which business interests suffused and shaped the circulation and transmission of political news and debate.