Print Culture after the Revolution

Catherine O’Donnell

in The Oxford Handbook of the American Revolution

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199746705
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Print Culture after the Revolution

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  • United States History
  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)
  • Social and Cultural History


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During the American Revolution, print emerged as a medium to describe conversion experiences, to exhort to virtue, to plead for votes, to amuse, and to scandalize. Printed texts enabled ideas to float from one mind to another. Imprints and newspapers both experienced dramatic growth, in part due to advances in papermaking, typesetting, and bookbinding. The heart of early Republican print culture, though, was not books, but ephemera. Much of the power of print depended on Americans' ability to read. The new United States was a highly literate and schooled society. The first federal copyright law, passed in 1790, spurred the transition from printers to publishers, while the Sedition Act resulted in the significant expansion of the Republican press. Aside from newspapers, almanacs and magazines flourished in the decades after the Revolution.

Keywords: American Revolution; print culture; newspapers; ephemera; United States; copyright; Sedition Act; press; almanacs; magazines

Article.  10442 words. 

Subjects: History ; United States History ; Early Modern History (1500 to 1700) ; Social and Cultural History

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