Last Updated 14 Apr 2020

Journal of Occurrences

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During the time that Boston was under seize and the British soldiers controlled the American colonies Samuel Adams took a stand and used the “Journal of Occurrences” to influence the retraction of the British soldier and start a revolution in Colonial Boston by showing how media can play a big role and also influence society with propaganda. Samuel Adams was a writer and publisher of the “Journal of Occurrences” also know as “Journal of the times” and “Journal of Transactions in Boston. ” The “Journal” sprung up after the arrival of the British soldiers in the colonial town of Boston.

Oliver Morton Dickerson compiler of A Journal of the Times in the book Boston under Military Rule points out the arrival of the British soldiers “So we now behold Boston surrounded at a time of profound peace, with about 14 ships of war, with springs on their cables, and their broadsides to the town! ” (1). The initial approach of the British soldiers would spark red flags in any colony especially if approached with war ships which would raise questions to why they are actually there. As John K.

Alexander author of “American Revolution Politicians” points out “As Adams predicted the soldiers caused more difficulties and tumults than they stopped (68). ” The presence of the soldiers and the many problems they caused provided Adams and his fellow Whigs ample material to fashion propaganda (Alexander 68). The first issue of the “Journal” appeared in the October 13 New-York Journal and covered the period from September 28 through October 2 (Alexander 68). There for after the New-York Journal had an installment of the “Journal of Occurrences. Samuel Adam was a skillful writer even before the Journals were produces but he used them as an opportunity to speak out against the soldiers and the British government as a whole. “The Journal of Occurrences” “focused on the many grievances that grew out of the military presence in Boston (Alexander 69)” and William M. Fowler, Jr. author of Samuel Adams Radical Puritan point out “in issue, dated 13 October 1768, the authors claimed that everything contained in its pages was strictly fact (90). All of the events in the Journal lacked evidence or proof of the incident, while also never mentioning names, which in today’s media would be considered unacceptable and most likely wouldn’t be published. “The first was the incalculable ham being done to the innocent citizens of Boston by despicable soldiers (Fowler 91). ” There where claims of soldiers beating citizens in the streets “a tradesman on his way home had a thrust in the breast with a bayonet from a soldier (Fowler 91). “On another occasion when a household hearing the cries of two women in the night, who were rudely treated by soldiers, tried to come to their aid, he was knocked down with a musket and much wounded (Fowler 91). ” Later claims from the north end of Boston bought chargers of rape against a soldier who escaped (Fowler 91). “This was tabloid journalism at its sensational best (Fowler 91). ” The second themes that were found in the Journal were the other agents of the king mainly the commissioners of the customs.

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During the colonial times it wasn’t uncommon for political figures to use their power to get what they wanted but they couldn’t stop the Journal from being printed. “With their near vice regal authority, the commissioners could act outside the normal structure of colonial government (Fowler 91). ” “Not loathe to use their power to reward friends and punish enemies, the commissioners were an easy target for the Journal (Fowler 91). ” Nearly every issue discredited both of the law and the enforcement officials (Fowler 91). In the pages of the Journal Bostonians were always innocent; the commissioners were always guilty (Fowler91). ” This media tactic helped influenced most of the colonial people regardless of whether it was true or not the Journals caught the attention of the common people. As Rodger Streitmetter author of Mightier than the Sword points out “Adams conceived of what became America’s first systematic gathering and distributing of news- a precursor of today’s Associated Press (10).

The articles and issues of the “Journal of Occurrences raised the tension between citizens in Colonial Boston and soldiers in the British Army “The descriptions of improper behavior by British troops became popular readings- as the blood pressure of the colonists continued to rise (Streitmetter12). ” Six months after the attitude toward the soldier grew so outrageous that even the British officials caved in and realized that the presence of four regiments were making things worst instead of helping. In August 1769 the British officials decided to withdraw the troops. Adams and his journalistic strategy had triumphed magnificently (Streitmetter13). ” The “Journal of Occurrences” then ceased operation after “It had produced some 300 individual entries one for each day during the ten months that British troops had been stationed in Boston (Streitmetter13). ” In our society today the media has a big input on our society as it did during the 18th century. The Journals “were effective in ridding Boston of unwanted British soldiers and in gaining support for Adams and his radical notions (Streitmetter13). It’s amazing that the people in colonial Boston never questioned the stories they read in the Journals but embraced them and took them for truth without in solid proof of the account. Thou you would think truth would be considered a factor, propaganda and writing for the audience help the “Journal of Occurrences” influence colonial Boston society. “As propaganda the Journal was a phenomenal success (Fowler 92). The papers were produced in Boston and printed in New York. The stories of the Boston “incidents were produced in papers such as the Pennsylvania Chronicles and was sent through all the colonies and even spread to the London papers.

All in all the Journals not only influenced the people in colonial Boston but when stories of the town were spread it influenced America. “Bostonians were brave and stoic citizens defiantly standing in defense of the rights of all Americans (Fowler 92). ” The “Journal of Occurrences” stories helped in the retraction of the British soldiers while giving the citizens of colonial Boston means to stand up and fight against the stationing of British soldiers in their city, overall staging a revolution in Boston as well as showing how media along with propaganda could affect society.

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Journal of Occurrences. (2017, Apr 28). Retrieved from

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