There are lots of different newspapers all around the United States, especially when it comes to each state having their own locally-run one.
However, it might surprise you to find out that New Hampshire carries one of the most historical newspapers in all of America, The New Hampshire Gazette.
However, there is plenty more to learn about this famous newspaper, including the debate around its self-attributed title of “The Nation’s Oldest Newspaper”.
You’ll find all the answers in my fascinating guide below!
What Is The New Hampshire Gazette?
The New Hampshire Gazette is quite a lot different to most newspapers you will come across in the United States.
For one thing, each edition of the newspaper is only eight pages long, making it much shorter than many typical newspapers.
On top of that, it’s published less often too. The New Hampshire Gazette is bi-weekly, which means that it’s only published once every two weeks.
This means that a year will only see 26 new editions of the Gazette published, rather than many other newspapers that publish daily or weekly.
With that being said, The New Hampshire Gazette is not a newspaper that you have to pay for. It’s given out for free to people all around New Hampshire.
This includes the city of Portsmouth, where it’s published, and the towns of Exeter, Dover, Rochester, Durham, Somersworth, and Newmarket. The paper has a circulation of around 5,500.
Can You Subscribe To The New Hampshire Gazette?
However, that doesn’t mean that people outside those places, or even outside New Hampshire, can’t get it. Thankfully, the Gazette is also available on a subscription basis, where it can be mailed to you wherever you live.
The paper isn’t free with a subscription, though, as you would assume given postage costs. If you live in the United States and want to subscribe, a year’s subscription will cost you just $25.
There are 1,000 mail subscribers in America. On the other hand, if you live outside the United States, then it’ll cost a bit more, since it needs to be shipped further. An international subscription will cost $40 for a year.
Is The New Hampshire Gazette Available Online?
Of course, I’ve only been talking about the physical print edition of The New Hampshire Gazette. Is it available online too? Thankfully, yes, though not all of it.
If you want to read the Gazett’s bi-weekly journalism on your computer or phone, you can do this at their website, but it doesn’t feature all of the paper’s features.
However,you’re often able to download a complete PDF file of the latest issue.
What’s The History Of The New Hampshire Gazette?
As I touched on in the introduction, The New Hampshire Gazette is famous for its history. As a result, it’s well worth exploring it now.
The New Hampshire Gazette was founded all the way back in 1756, on October 7. It was founded in the city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where it is still published to this day.
Its founder was the printer Daniel Fowle, who was the first printer in the state. Similarly, the Gazette was the first newspaper that the Province of New Hampshire had.
Fowle himself had quite a career already, notably being the first person to print the words of Founding Father Samuel Adams, and he would find success with The New Hampshire Gazette too.
At this time, the newspaper was published on a weekly basis.
One of its first significant acts was in 1765, when it published an edition that intelligently protested the “Stamp Act”.
This was a direct tax that was coming straight from Great Britain, which they were imposing on the British colonies of America.
On top of that, they required that lots of the colonies’ printed work would be printed on London’s stamped paper.
As an act of protest, The New Hampshire Gazette published an edition that had black borders all around the edges of its paper and its columns.
On top of that, they ran an article in the same edition that criticized Britain’s act.
This kind of move wasn’t surprising for Daniel Fowle, who had been imprisoned in the past for printing pamphlets attacking Britain, and it helped the Gazette to stand out.
Change Of Hands
However, Fowle died in 1787. Though he had had children, they had all unfortunately died when they were infants, and so he had no heirs to pass the newspaper onto.
As a result, he gave control of it to John Melcher, his former apprentice and partner.
This would be far from the first time the paper would change hands, because it would change owners over two dozen times across the rest of its life – and will probably continue to do so!
It also merged with other newspapers. For example, in the 1890s, The Portsmouth Herald would publish The New Hampshire Gazette itself, and only as a supplement publication on weekends.
By contrast, The Portsmouth Herald is published six days a week, so it would make sense that it publishes a shorter and less-frequent newspaper only as a supplement.
In fact, The Portsmouth Herald even renamed the Gazette in 1960, retitling it as the Herald Weekend Edition. However, it was still made clear during the name change that the paper was still The New Hampshire Gazette in spirit.
The paper changed its name back around 1989, when Steven Fowle (a descendant of Daniel Fowle) registered the rights to the paper’s original name himself.
From then, it began publishing in a reduced format, with the The New Hampshire Gazette being entirely its own thing now and getting released episodically.
This lasted until 1999, when the paper became exactly as you see it today, with the same schedule of release and the same format.
Is The New Hampshire Gazette “The Nation’s Oldest Newspaper”?
What makes The New Hampshire Gazette most famous, though, is its claim that it’s “The Nation’s Oldest Newspaper”. This motto is printer on every issue and is proudly displayed at the top of their website, but is it true?
Interestingly, the paper first made history in 1810, when the “History of Printing” by Isaiah Thomas stated that the Gazette had become the region of New England’s oldest printed newspaper.
A few decades later, in 1839, the newspaper made history again, when another newspaper closed. This was The Maryland Gazette, which had been founded in 1745, 11 years before our Gazette.
With this paper gone, the New Hampshire Gazette now held the title of The Nation’s Oldest Newspaper.
Whether this title is true, though, is still debated to this day.
Scholarly articles and other texts instead claim that the Hartford Courant is actually the nation’s oldest newspaper, although it was founded in 1764, almost a decade after The New Hampshire Gazette.
However, the Gazette’s patchy publication history, since it spent much of the 20th century merged into other publications, has caused the doubt for its title.
Whether it really is “the nation’s oldest newspaper” or not, The New Hampshire Gazette has an undeniably impressive and interesting history, and it’s great that it’s still published to this day.