In the 1500’s through the 1800’s, Ben Franklin, Samuel Sewell, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Paine, Adam Smith, and many others published what were called pamphlets – short small booklets with their news, ideas, and opinions (their content) about contemporary affairs.
Sounds like a blog doesn’t it?
There were thousands of these printed. In one reference they have more than 15,000 titles: Pamphlets in American History
How did a reader comment on another person’s pamphlet? They published their own as James Chalmers, a loyalist, did within weeks after Thomas Paine printed Common Sense.
The topics varied from war to women, civil liberties to labor, tariffs to free trade, taxes to finance, capitalism to socialism, religion to atheism, and many more.
Hmm, sounds like 2011, not 1711, doesn’t it?
A few examples are shown below:
The Rights of Man
Thomas Paine, 1791
Thomas Paine, 1776
James Chalmers, 1776 (an answer within weeks of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense) – The first blog comment?
A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain
Benjamin Franklin, 1722
The Selling of Joseph (Is Slavery Christian?)
Samuel Sewell, 1700
How Does God Cause Earthquakes?
Thomas Prince, 1755
The Loyal Convert – A royalist pamphlet
Francis Quarles, 1644
Why is this important you ask? Publishing content is an American tradition. Anyone that could afford it, published – not just newspaper and book publishers.
The cost has come down and the form has changed (print = newsletter postcards), e-mail newsletters, and various types of Internet channels. But publish we do.
We publish on politics, economics, history, current events, religion, and of course marketing – after all at our core, Americans are merchants.
I was the first multimedia producer at the IBM PC Division. One of my roles was managing editor of one of the first professional blogging groups – 15 full-time freelance journalists that wrote about our products, services, and customers – in 1987. The first brand journalism group that I know of.
We published on Internet Newsgroups, Forums, and Weblogs. Some of the content was used in an old medium: print [something called press releases… plus brochures, magazines, newsletters, and product packaging.]
So the next time you’re thinking about getting into blogging, remember, it’s not new – you’re just late in getting started.
If you need some help, contact me. My name is Mike – and I’m your publishing friend. MikeBrown (at) BrownLtd (dot) com