A Colonial Print Ascendancy: The Domestic Press, Sociability and Elite Formation in Eighteenth-Century Halifax and Québec City
Eamon, Michael John
MetadataShow full item record
From the mid eighteenth-century introduction of printing presses in Halifax (1751) and Québec City (1764), printers, readers and print contributors informally coalesced around the newspapers and magazines produced in the British American capitals. This group was an eclectic mix of close friends, acquaintances and complete strangers of varied education, backgrounds and professions. Whether they realized it or not, print drew these individuals together, uniting them in their literacy and a shared belief in the power of the press to shape opinion, regulate behaviour and inspire action. The individuals who were drawn to the domestic press in the two colonial capitals can be considered as comprising a colonial print ascendancy. As we will see, some of the most active members of this print ascendancy appealed to the colonial press — and the British traditions it communicated — to create a cohesive vision of privileged, English-speaking conduct. Indeed, in both colonial capitals, those who envisaged and aspired to this elite conflated British gentility, literature and elevated sociability with civility and modernity. Print was not only used by some as a means of privileged sociability, it was also used to debate or promote the objectives of other select fora such as the theatre, coffee houses, clubs and societies. The domestic press forged social networks that lay claim to erudition and refined sociability believed requisite to colonial advancement.