The Pennsylvania Evening Post

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On July 6, 1776, the Post became the first newspaper to print a copy of the United States' Declaration of Independence

The Pennsylvania Evening Post was the first daily newspaper published in the United States, and was produced by Benjamin Towne from 1775 to 1783. It was also the first English speaking newspaper to publish the United States Declaration of Independence.[1][2][3][4] It was a German-language paper, Der Pennsylvanische Staatsbote that on July 5, 1776, was the first paper to report the American Declaration of Independence, and it did so in German translation. English readers would have to wait a day later to read the English text in The Pennsylvania Evening Post.


Benjamin Towne published the first issue of the Post on January 24, 1775,[5] using paper borrowed from James Humphreys without expectation of payment.[6] The paper was supportive of the cause of the American Revolution,[5] and was the first to publish the United States Declaration of Independence, with it taking up the front page of the July 6, 1776 issue.[7][8][9]

Towne initially published his newspaper three times per week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings "on half a sheet of crownpaper, in quarto." The cost to readers was "two pennies each paper, or three Shillings the quarter." His printing business was located on Front Street near the London Coffee House in Philadelphia.[10][11]

During the British occupation of Philadelphia in 1778, the paper's ideology shifted towards loyalism. Other loyalist papers in the city, such as Humphrey's Pennsylvania Ledger, ceased publication as the British were losing control of Philadelphia; Towne stayed. As a result of his loyalist publication, the Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania placed him on a list of traitors. Towne's Post was selected to publish this list of traitors, possibly because other printers had not returned to the city.[5]

In 1779, the Post published a series of articles written by Whitehead Humphreys, under the pseudonym "Cato." Humphreys's articles attacked the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 and accused Thomas Paine of being a loyalist. On July 24, supporters of the Constitutional Society, led by Charles Wilson Peale, dragged Towne to a meeting and demanded the identity of Cato. Towne named Humphreys, and the mob attacked Humphreys's house.[5]

These controversies lead to a decrease in revenue. In 1780, Towne began advertising for hawkers. The paper started daily publication in spring of 1783, the first in the country to do so. The paper would continue publication in this format until 1784; reportedly, near the end of its run, Towne personally hawked the paper.[5]

In June 2013, David Rubenstein, the chief executive officer of The Carlyle Group purchased a copy of the first newspaper printing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence for $632,500 during an auction at the Robert A. Siegel Galleries in New York. At the time, it was the highest price ever paid at auction for a historic newspaper, according to Reuters.[12] Rubenstein subsequently loaned his copy of the newspaper to the Newseum in Washington, D.C. for its exhibit, "1776—Breaking News: Independence," which opened on July 1, 2016.[13][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "First Newspaper Printing of the Declaration". Museum of the American Revolution. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  2. ^ "1st newspaper printing of historic document: Declaration of Independence printing up for auction." Allentown, Pennsylvania: WFMZ News, June 25, 2013.
  3. ^ Baumann, Roland M. "The Pennsylvania Revolution, on Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Independence Hall Association, 1989, retrieved online December 4, 2022.
  4. ^ "The History of America's Independence Day." Washington, D.C.: PBS retrieved online December 4, 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d e Teeter, Dwight L. (July 1965). "Benjamin Towne: The Precarious Career of a Persistent Printer". Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. 89 (3): 316–330. JSTOR 20089817.
  6. ^ Thomas, Isaiah. The history of printing in America (2nd ed.). New York: Burt Fanklin. pp. 263–266.
  7. ^ "The Pennsylvania Evening Post (1776-07-06)". Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  8. ^ "First Newspaper Printing of the Declaration". Museum of the American Revolution. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  9. ^ "First Printing of the Declaration of Independence of America in a Newspaper," in "The News Media and the Making of America, 1730-1865." Worcester, Massachusetts: American Antiquarian Society, retrieved online December 4, 2022.
  10. ^ "The Pennsylvania Evening Post," in "Newspapers," in The Register of Pennsylvania Devoted to the Preservation of Facts and Documents, and Every Other Kind of Useful Information, Respecting the State of Pennsylvania, Vol. 1, p. 173, Samuel Hazard, editor. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: W. F. Geddes, 1828.
  11. ^ Pennsylvania Evening Post advertisement, in Pennsylvania county histories scrapbook, Allegheny County, Vol. 4, p. 81. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: State Library of Pennsylvania.
  12. ^ Trotta, Daniel. "Carlyle CEO buys 1776 printing of Declaration of Independence." Reuters: June 25, 2013.
  13. ^ "First Newspaper Printing of the Declaration of Independence Goes on Display at the Newseum." Washington, D.C.: Newseum, June 29, 2016.
  14. ^ Taboh, Julie. "The Declaration of Independence Makes Headlines in 1776 and 2016." Washington, D.C.: Voice of America, July 4, 2016.

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