October 7

Daniel Fowle, a printer from Boston, printed the New Hampshire Gazette at Portsmouth on this day in 1756—the first newspaper to appear in that state. Just two years previously Printer Fowle had been jailed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in an early case of freedom of the press. From his Anne Street shop in Boston he printed pamphlets which he himself sold. One of these, The Monster of Monsters, by Tom Thumb, Esq., so irked the legislature that a warrant was sworn for his arrest.

Brought before the House of Representatives, Printer Fowle was asked:

“Do you know anything of the printing of this book?’

After examining the pamphlet the printer told the House that it was not his work as he didn’t have such types. When he was asked if he knew anything relating to its printing he said that he had purchased a few copies for sale in his shop.

Question. [by the speaker] Who did you buy them off?

Answer. They were I believe, sent by a young man, but I cannot tell his name.

Q. Who did he live with?

A. The young man, I believe, lives with Royall Tyler.

Q. Did you have any conversation with him [Tyler] about them?

A. I believe I might, in the same manner I had with many others; not that I thought him the author. It was never offered me to print.

One of the members then said to Fowle, “You do not know when you lie!”

Fowle replied, “Begging your pardon, sir, I know when I lie, and what a lie is as well as yourself.”

Fowle was then confined for several hours in the lobby. At ten o’clock at night he was ordered to the common gaol, and “confined among thieves and murderers. His wife was not allowed to see him, and he was not permitted writing materials.”

Royall Tyler, Esq. was next arrested and “carried before the house.” When interrogated, he became probably the first printer in the land to “claim the Fifth,” saying, simply, “Nemo tenetur seipsum accusare.” It would be interesting to see the effect of such a statement upon contemporary Congressional hearings. Tyler was committed for contempt but released.

After five days in prison Fowle was released and there the prosecution ended. He made several attempts to obtain satisfaction for his “deprivation of liberty” with no success. Much put out with the government of Massachusetts, he removed himself to New Hampshire “at the request of several respectable gentlemen there” and thus became that state’s first printer.

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