A New Year’s Address

To mark the start of a new year, in the 18th and 19th centuries it was traditional for newspapers to issue new years’ addresses, or carrier’s addresses. (Click here to see AAS’s online catalog records for over 1,300 of these addresses.)  This extra supplement to the paper usually consisted of verses written in the voice of the newsboys who hawked their wares on street corners across America.  Here is an example of one which AAS recently acquired, as described by Lauren Hewes, curator of graphic arts:

New Year’s Address, of the Carrier Boys of the Bangor Daily Whig and Courier, January 1, 1858. Bangor, ME, 1857.
Purchased from James Arsenault. Harry G. Stoddard Memorial and Adopt-a-Book Funds.

This addition to our excellent holdings of carriers’ addresses comes from Bangor, and joins a second address for this paper from 1860 already in AAS’s broadside collection. At the time this address was printed, the Bangor Daily Whig and Courier was being edited by William H. Wheeler, who was born in Worcester, MA, in 1817 and had settled in Maine as a young man.  Well-known for his political writing, Wheeler was called the “strongest pen in the State” by his peers. As usual, the verse address tackles seminal news events from the previous year, in this case the Kansas question, international military conflicts, and the controversy over giving Native Americans the right to vote. The poet (presumably Wheeler) also addresses the financial panic of 1857, writing a stanza which could easily be reused by a newspaper editor to refer to recent years:

Not a word need I to utter
of the late financial crisis,
of the fearful crash of credit,
which, with force of a tornado
shook the land as with an earthquake,
whelming in its reckless ruin
thousands of our air-built castles
Lo!  Its wrecks are still all around us.
Let us not refuse the lessons
Which these sad reverses teach us.

Fortunately, things are looking up all around for our new year in 2011.  While we won’t break into verse, we do invite you to check back with us in the next few weeks.   Our blog will be debuting new features and undergoing a makeover to start the new year with a fresh new face.  In the meantime, please accept the best wishes of all of us at Past is Present and the American Antiquarian Society for a happy and healthy new year.

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