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This Day In Founding Fathers History – 24 April 2013
On this day in 1704, John Campbell published the first issue of the Boston News-Letter. It was a two-sided, single printed sheet and the first continuously published newspaper in America. Campbell emigrated from Scotland to Boston where he worked as a bookseller and served as Boston’s postmaster for over 15 years. He published the paper, which included local news and news from England, until 1722 when he transferred the operation to printer Bartholomew Green, who handed it down in the family until February 1776 when the last issue was printed. 1
In 1800 on this day, the Joint Committee on the Library was created. President Adams signed a bill establishing the federal government in Washington, which also included the creation of the Library of Congress. The Committee is the oldest continuing Joint Committee of the U.S. Congress. The act appropriated $5,000 for “the purchase of books as may be necessary for the use of Congress.” The Library of Congress’s collection now includes over 155 million items, including more than 35 million cataloged books and print materials in 460 languages, more than 68 million manuscripts, the largest rare book collection in North America, and the world’s largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music, and sound recordings. 2
On this day in 1793, President Washington attended Ricketts’ Circus, America’s first circus which had debuted just a few weeks prior. John Bill Ricketts was a skilled equestrian, performing such tricks as riding two horses simultaneously while standing and juggling while mounted on horseback. Ricketts started by opening a riding academy in Philadelphia, teaching horses and riders to perform as he could. He then introduced the circus to America, with acts of a tightrope walker, juggling acrobat, a band, and equestrian tricks. President Washington was a fan of Ricketts’ circus and friends with Ricketts himself. Washington’s white steed, Jack, was put on display in Ricketts’ riding amphitheater. This all lent a patriotic boost in business for Ricketts, and upon Washington’s retirement, a special performance was given. 3
1 “Premier Issue of the Boston News-Letter,” Massachusetts Historical Society, masshist.org/objects/2004april.cfm
2 “About the Library – History,” Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/about/history.html
3 “Ricketts Circus Historical Marker,” Explore PA History, explorepahistory.com/hmarker.php?markerId=1-A-1DB