Colonial North Carolina’s Pirate Paper

Source:

A Collection of all the Public Acts of Assembly, of the Province of North Carolina (New Bern: J.Davis, 1752).

Joyner Library Special Collections, North Carolina KFN7430 1752 .A2

Digitized version available online in Joyner Library’s Digital Collections.

Staff Person: Lawrence Houston

Description: 

In 1749, James Davis was hired by the colonial government to be the colony’s first printer.  He was authorized to print currency and the laws of the North Carolina Assembly near the capitol in New Bern. He started out by acquiring an old set of lead type and a printing press from colleagues in Williamsburg, Virginia. He also purchased several reams of paper from Benjamin Franklin. However, paper in the colonies was not cheap or easy to come by.

Because of the high tariffs and duties on imported paper, the only reasonably costed supplies came from either Great Britain or from one of about a dozen paper mills operating colonies.  The discarded pieces of white cotton or linen cloth that formed the raw material for paper were always in short supply. Despite receiving a fixed stipend from the colonial government, Davis was still confronted with thin profit margins and low sales volume from his printing venture.  He did many things to turn a higher profit from his business—including trafficking with pirates to get cheaper paper.

In the 1740’s, the British government was involved in a series of conflicts over claims to the Habsburg monarchs’ territory in Austria. During one of these conflicts, the War of Jenkin’s Ear, the British acted against their Spanish and Genoese adversaries by appointing privateers—pirates who were legally commissioned by the government to raid the merchant vessels of their enemies. By 1747, British privateers had delivered over £140,000 of Genoese spoils to colonial ports, like New York and New Bern.  This booty included numerous bales of paper, which the privateers sold cheaply to colonial printers such as Benjamin Franklin and James Davis.

Our copy of A Collection of all the Public Acts of Assembly, of the Province of North Carolina was one of the first law books printed by Davis.  In this book, alongside paper likely purchased from a mill in Virginia, he used a few sheets of Genoese paper obtained by British privateers. Owing to the difficulty in getting regular supplies of paper, there are over a dozen different sources for the paper used in this book alone.

 

Watermark from the Acts of Assembly, depicting the Coat of Arms for the City of Genoa uppermost.

Watermark from pgs 233-234 of the Acts of Assembly viewed with transmitted light, depicting the Coat of Arms for the City of Genoa.

We can determine the origin of the paper in this book by looking at the watermark. Watermarks, thinner areas in the paper sheet, are created from wires laid onto the papermaking moulds. One can see watermarks when light is shined through the paper.  Papermakers utilized watermarks to distinguish their product from that of competitors and to differentiate one stock of paper from another. The watermark on this page bears the coat of arms for Genoa: a cross flanked by griffons. The additional markings seen in the two lower circles vary greatly in Genoese papers and can correlate to specific paper makers or dates of manufacture.

Citations & Sources:

  1. Amory, Hugh & Hall, David., eds. A History of the Book in America, Volume 1: The Colonial Book in the Atlantic World. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. 1997.
  2. Balmaceda, Jose Carlos. “Genoa’s Contribution to the Development of the Spanish Paper Manufacture” in Paper as a Medium of Cultural Heritage. Instituto Centrale per la Patologia del Libro, Rome. 2004.
  3. Heawood, Edward. Watermarks, mainly of the 17th and 18th centuries. Paper Publications Society, Hilversum, Holland. 1950.
  4. McMurtrie, Douglas C. “First Twelve Years of Printing in North Carolina, 1749-1760.North Carolina Historical Review 10. July, 1933.
  5. Houston, Lawrence. Unpublished MLIS Master’s Thesis. 2017.
  6. Gravell, Thomas. American Watermarks, 1690-1835. Oak Knoll Press, New Castle, Deleware. 2002.

Anniversary Program

CollectionJesse Rountree Moye Papers, MC #1111

Staff Member: Nanette Hardison

The image below is of a program for an event held on May 27, 1932 in Farmville, North Carolina. This event celebrated the 60th anniversary of the founding of Farmville,  the bicentennial of the  birth of George Washington, the marking of the Old Plank Road and the memory of Alfred Moye. Shown below is the program for the event which included a number of local speakers.

 

Photograph of Confederate veterans and daughter

Taft Family Papers #784, East Carolina Manuscript Collection

Source:

Staff Person:  Dale Sauter

Description:  

Today’s staff pick features an undated photograph (left to right) of Major Orren Randolph Smith, his daughter Jessica and John T. B. Hoover. Smith and Hoover were both Confederate veterans who fought in the Civil War.  On the back of the photograph a statement is written that Smith created the “Stars and Bars” (the first official flag of the Confederacy), and that his daughter verified this in the 1940s.  However, it is also believed that Nicola Marschall (a Prussian artist), inspired by the Austrian flag, first designed the Confederate flag.  There became much conflict between the descendants of the two individuals regarding who was the first to design the flag.  Nevertheless, Smith’s tombstone in Henderson, North Carolina bears the inscription “designer of the Stars and Bars”.

William Woods Holden Election Handbill

Source: Benjamin B. Winborne Papers #691-005, East Carolina Manuscript Collection

Staff Person: Dale Sauter

Description:

Today’s staff pick features an original handbill (circa 1868) promoting the election of William Woods Holden for Governor and Tod Robinson Caldwell for the first ever position of Lieutenant Governor in North Carolina.  They were both elected to office.  Holden (1818-1892) was the only Chief Executive in North Carolina history to be impeached and removed from office (and the first in the nation to endure that indignity.)  Holden was posthumously and unanimously pardoned by the North Carolina Senate in 2011.

Tombstones in Old Town Cemetery

Source: Colbert P. Howell Collection(#989)

Colbert Howell, a resident of Murfreesboro, NC, shot a series of photographs of places in and around Murfreesboro which had historical significance. The photographs were displayed on the occasion of Murfreesboro Historical Week and of the establishment of the Murfreesboro Historical Society and of its’ Lafayette Ball. Pictured below is one of those photographs which is of tombstones located in Old Town Cemetery, Murfreesboro, NC.

Virginia Dare Shores, North Carolina 1927

Source: Virginia Dare Shores, North Carolina, Joyner NC Rare
HD1390.5 .V57 1927 

Staff Person: Lynette Lundin

Description:

This is a pamphlet by Carolina Development Company in it they give alluring descriptions of the Roanoke Colonies and its history endeavoring to sell the land. On page 5 there is a rare reprint of an original map by John White (1587). 

 

Annie Bruce Carr posing with her Dolls

Source: Elias Carr Papers, East Carolina Manuscript Collection, #160.9.e.29

Staff Person: Nanette Hardison

Description:

The image shown is of Annie Bruce Carr, daughter of  North Carolina Governor Elias Carr. She is sitting in front of a large tree holding her doll. She has twelve other dolls in various poses around her. The image dated 1888 was taken at Bracebridge, Edgecombe County, N.C., which was home of Gov. Carr. This image along with other images and documents can be found in the Elias Carr Papers, 1856-1910, #160.

William Hooper, Declaration of Independence Signer

Source: Joseph Hewes and William Hooper Collection, East Carolina Manuscript Collection #994

William Hooper Portrait, ca. 1787

William Hooper Portrait, ca. 1787

Staff Person: Nanette Hardison

Description:

William Hooper (1742-1790), a native of Boston who later moved to New Hanover County, N.C., was one of North Carolina’s three signers of the Declaration of Independence. He was an active delegate to Provincial Congresses in North Carolina and Continental Congresses, and later served in the North Carolina General Assembly. In 1782 Hooper purchased a home for his family in Hillsborough, where he practiced law.

This photograph of Hooper, along with one of fellow signer Joseph Hewes, was given to East Carolina Teachers College in 1926 by Fred A. Olds, collector for the North Carolina Historical Commission’s Hall of History in Raleigh. Information about these photographs and about the life of William Hooper can be obtained from the Joseph Hewes and William Hooper Collection, 1925-1926 http://digital.lib.ecu.edu/special/ead/findingaids/0994/).

Gazette of the United States and the NC Ratification of the US Constitution

Source: Gazette of the United States Collection, 1790, East Carolina Manuscript Collection #873

Gazette of the United States Collection

Gazette of the United States Collection

Staff Person: Jonathan Dembo

Description:

This particular issue of The Gazette of the United States from January 1790 is of special interest to North Carolinians. Page 314 of The Gazette (shown above, right hand page) includes a letter from President Washington announcing that a constitutional convention in the State of North Carolina had ratified the United States Constitution in November 1789. It also includes the full text of the resolution itself and a letter from Samuel Johnston, the President of the convention, conveying resolution. North Carolina was the 12th of the original 13 states to ratify the Constitution.

The Gazette is also of historical interest. It was first issued on April 15, 1789 to support President George Washington and the policies and candidates of the emerging Federalist Party. Originally published in New York, by its editor John Fenno, it moved to Philadelphia in 1790 when United States Government made that city its new temporary capital. A bi-weekly, it was sold throughout the country wherever the nation’s mail carriers could carry it.

Clearly partisan, The Gazette’s writers — often anonymous or pseudonymous–supported Federalist positions, politicians, or policies and criticized opponents of the government. It included many pieces containing personal attacks on Federalist opponents. Among the paper’s writers was Alexander Hamilton, who appeared under various noms de plume.

The Gazette was especially important in promoting the development of political parties and politics in the new nation. Its success also led to the rise of a competitor, the National Gazette, which was founded at the urging of anti-Federalist leaders Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in order to promote their own party. The anti-Federalist Party later evolved into today’s Democratic Party.

Gazette of the United States Collection

Gazette of the United States Collection

A facsimile of The Gazette will appear in a special exhibit of rare archival materials relating to the Constitution drawn from the Special Collections of Joyner Library. The exhibit will be on display in Mendenhall Student Center during the week of 14-20 September 2008. The exhibit will focus on freedom of speech and will appear as part of East Carolina University’s recognition of Constitution Day 2008.

Source: Gazette of the United States, Issue No. 30 (13 January 1790), Gazette of the United States Collection #873.1.os Special Collections Department, J. Y. Joyner Library.

You may access the finding aid to the Gazette of the United States Collection at http://digital.lib.ecu.edu/special/ead/findingaids/0873/

Click on the image to see an enlarged version.

Bermuda Map

Source: Mappa Aestivarum Insularum alias Barmudas dictarum [Bermuda map], Special Collections Map Collection MC0035

Staff Person: Ralph Scott

Description:

Mappa Aestivarum Insularum alias Barmudas dictarum [Bermuda map.] Amstelodami [Amsterdam,] Apud Henricum Hondium [Henry Hondius,] ca.1633?{some sources give date as 1621} 33 x 51 cm. Scale: 1:70,000. Special Collections Map Collection MC0035, Purchase, State Appropriated Funds, 2008.

Bermuda was discovered by the Europeans probably around 1503 and was included in Spanish charts as early as 1511. The island was named in honor of its supposed discoverer Juan de Bermudez. For around the next 100 years the island was visited by passing Portuguese and Spanish vessels looking for water. In 1609 the flagship of a Virginia Company fleet, the Sea Venture on a rescue mission to Jamestown, was wrecked on the island, leaving the English in control. This shipwreck is reported to have formed the basis for William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest. Bermuda at first passed to control of the Virginia Company and later in 1615 to the Somers Isles Company. Due to limited resources on the island, acts were passed in 1616 and 1620 banning the hunting of birds and turtles. These acts became the first conservation laws in the New World.

This map was drawn shortly after the Somers Isles Company took control of the island and was published, it is thought, in Amsterdam during the period 1621-1633. Distances on the map to Bermuda are given in “Stadiorum Milliarum” to Florida, Plymouth [Massachusetts], New England, Cape Henry, Cape Charles and Roanoak–the latter location marking the place of the famous “Lost Colony” of 1587. This map forms an interesting companion piece to other items in Special Collections, notably several travel accounts of the period and the “Croatan Archaeological site ring”.

To view an enlarged version of this image, click on the image itself.

Mappa Aestivarum Isularum alias Barmudas dictarum

Mappa Aestivarum Isularum alias Barmudas dictarum

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