EARLY DELAWARE NEWSPAPERS
Delaware's first newspaper was inspired by the publishing success of Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia.
James Adams, who had learned the printing trade at Londonderry, Ireland, emigrated to Philadelphia at an early age, became a printer under Franklin & Hall.
In 1760 he left this famous printing partnership and set up his own business but the competition was too great and the young Irishman failed. Remember that Philadelphia was at that time the printing center of the new country.
Having heard that there was no printer down the Delaware in Wilmington , in 1761 he published a 'letter' titled “Proposal For Printing A Newspaper”, which received so much encouragement and offers of backing, that he moved his heavy and clumsy Franklin Press, type and all, to Wilmington, and set out the first issue of the “Wilmington Chronicle”, a weekly, requiring long working hours at night to get the paper, each sheet a piece of individual skill, into homes early morning on time.
To print, type was laid out on a flat surface, covered with ink, then a sheet of paper was laid across the 'bed of type' , pressed and removed, one side of each sheet at a time.
The “Chronicle” was not a paying venture and was discontinued after a six month period. But, Adams, continued as the only Wilmington printer, printing many of the Colonial Government publications, religious pamphlets and books. The publication of a yearly Almanac and a business selling and binding books, dealing in paper products, other writing necessities, kept him as the only Delaware until 1775.
In 1789, with his eldest son as a partner, the published “The Delaware & Eastern Shore Advertiser” . As the other sons grew of age they came into the business and when Adams died in 1792, they took the business over.
The elder Adams was greatly esteemed and the family were the outstanding publishers of early Delaware publishers of early Delaware .
Two sons, Samuel and John, established a printing press in New Castle, and in 1797 the “Laws of Delaware” has their imprint.
MIRROR OF THE TIMES
Politics was the incentive for another paper in 1799, “The Mirror of the Times”, published by James Wilson, to further the interest of the Federal Party and President John Adams.
This paper was the first to be printed in America on pure white stock, which was a novelty at the time and was produced at the Wilmington mill of Thomas D. Gilprin on the Brandywine.
The Mirror of Times was a semi weekly paper printed out for Wednesday and Saturday on an old Franklin type hand press. Wilson was an editor with energy and ideas but no ability to make profits. He had the problem of collecting. During election time in New Castle he spent the entire day at Captain Caleb Bennetts Tavern with his account books, waiting for subscribers to call on him.
“Christian Repository” was published by Peter Brynberg at 4th and Shipley, ”Federal Ark” made an appearance in 1803 and a literary weekly , “Museum of Delaware” published by Joessph Jows , 1804 to 1810.
Delaware Gazette and Delaware State Journal became the Every Evening in 1822.
Source: Wilmington News Journal, Saturday, October 11, 1930.