Massachusetts Spy

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The Massachusetts Spy
Massachusetts Spy 3a10607u.png
Massachusetts Spy, July 7, 1774
Founder(s)Isaiah Thomas
Founded1770 (1770)
CityBoston, Massachusetts
Worcester, Massachusetts
CountryUnited States United States

The Massachusetts Spy (est.1770) was a newspaper published by Isaiah Thomas in Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts in the 18th century.[1] It was a heavily political weekly paper that was constantly on the verge of being suppressed by the Royalist government, from the time of its establishment in 1770 to 1776, during the runup to the American Revolution. In 1771-73 the Spy featured the essays of several anonymous political commentators who called themselves "Centinel," "Mucius Scaevola" and "Leonidas." They spoke in the same terms about similar issues, kept Patriot polemics on the front page, and supported each other against attacks in progovernment papers. Rhetorical combat was a Patriot tactic that explained the issues of the day and fostered cohesiveness without advocating outright rebellion. The columnists spoke to the colonists as an independent people tied to Britain only by voluntary legal compact. The Spy soon carried radicalism to its logical conclusion. When articles from the Spy were reprinted in other papers, as the country as a whole was ready for Tom Paine's Common Sense (in 1776).[2]


  1. ^ "Massachusetts - Eighteenth-Century American Newspapers in the Library of Congress (Serial and Government Publications Division)". 2010-07-19. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  2. ^ Neil L. York, "Tag-Team Polemics: The 'Centinel' and his Allies in the Massachusetts Spy", Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society (1995) Vol. 107, pp 85-114.

Further reading[edit]

  • Thomas S. Martin. The Long and the Short of It: A Newspaper Exchange on the Massachusetts Charters, 1772. The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, Vol. 43, No. 1 (Jan., 1986), pp. 99-110