The Halifax Gazette, or The Weekly Advertiser
Isaiah Thomas (1749-1831) would become a prominent Patriot printer during the American Revolution and eventually one of the wealthiest men in the United States, but at sixteen he illegally left his apprenticeship in Boston with a poor printer named Zechariah Fowle (1724-76) to learn his trade in London. He never made it to London and instead found himself in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1765.
In Halifax he worked for the town’s only printer, Anthony Henry (1734-1800), who turned out to be inept at his business and soon left the newspaper, the Halifax Gazette, in the care of Thomas. Thomas, like many printers at this time, hated the Stamp Act, as it was harmful to business. During the several months he stayed in Halifax, he published many articles against the act, printed the tax stamp upside down, and even created images of the devil attacking the stamp, before he resorted to cutting all the stamps off of his supply of paper. According to Thomas, these protests “made no trifling bustle in the place,” including causing the Gazette to briefly lose its government patronage.
The two images from the Halifax Gazette shown here illustrate some of the ways Thomas spoke out against the Stamp Act. The first, the front page of the December 12-19, 1765, issue of the paper, replicates the Pennsylvania Journal, which came to Halifax via a sailing vessel and featured black mourning bars and a skull and cross bones illustration to signify the potential death of the paper due to the Stamp Act. The second shows a woodcut of the devil attacking the Stamp Act, which appeared on the second page of the issue for February 6-13, 1766. This woodcut was created by Thomas himself.