“A More Extensive Diffusion of Useful Knowledge”

in The Enlightenment & the Book

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780226752525
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226752549 | DOI:
“A More Extensive Diffusion of Useful Knowledge”

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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The possibilities for both importing and reprinting books had never been so promising. In addition to economic opportunity, the new nation's atmosphere of religious toleration and its potential for denominational growth were attractive to members of pious religious sects, such as William Young, and of oppressed religious minorities, such as Mathew Carey. In some cases, notably that of Carey, America's relatively open political atmosphere was equally important. All these factors helped to create the influx of bookmen from Scotland and Ireland who dominated the American book trade in the late eighteenth century. The phenomenon was especially evident in Philadelphia, the cultural and political capital of the new republic and a center of ethnic and religious diversity. Carey, Thomas Dobson, Young, and Robert Campbell emigrated for different reasons and encountered different kinds of obstacles, but all found ways to overcome them.

Keywords: religious sects; religious minorities; book trade; religious diversity; Mathew Carey; America; Scotland; Ireland; Philadelphia

Chapter.  21231 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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