Colonial American History Stories – 1763 – 1769
Chapter title – April 7, 1763 – Georgia Gazette Begins Publication
Scot James Johnston published Georgia’s first newspaper, the Georgia Gazette, on April 7, 1763. The newspaper continued publication until 1802. There were some name changes and temporary pauses along the way. The Stamp Act caused the first halt in publication on November 21, 1765.
James Johnston (1738- 1808)
Born in Scotland, James Johnson immigrated to Georgia in 1761. A skilled printer, the Georgia assembly appointed him the public printer of the Province in 1762. He produced the first issue of the Georgia Gazette on April 7, 1763.
The Stamp Act of 1765
Parliament passed the Stamp Act in 1765. It required that all legal documents, magazines, newspapers and other types of documents be printed on stamped paper. To get the stamp required printers to pay a tax. The tax proved unpopular in the colonies and led to massive protests. Parliament repealed the Stamp Act on March 18, 1766. The costs imposed by the tax caused a temporary cessation of publication for the Georgia Gazette. This was true for many other publications as well. After repeal, Johnson resumed publication of his paper.
Revolutionary War Fervor
Johnson continued publication until February 1776. When revolutionary fervor took root in the colonies, Johnson came down on the side of the king of England. He would not publish any of the revolutionary publications in his newspaper. The collapse of royal government in Georgia and the ensuing civil unrest caused him to halt publication. British Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Campbell took control of Augusta, Georgia on January 31, 1779. Royal rule returned later that year. Johnson resumed publication of his newspaper as the Royal Georgia Gazette.
After the war, ended Johnson continued publication the newspaper, now under the name of Gazette of the State of Georgia. The American Antiquarian Society has many of the issues of this newspaper in its archives.
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