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A History of Printing in Colonial Maryland: 1686-1776 by Lawrence C. Wroth
Volume 435, Preface 7   View pdf image (33K)
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INTRODUCTION

to the bibliography of Maryland laws and to the legislation underlying
their publication, it must be remembered that it was the printing of laws
and the public business generally which brought printers to the early
American cities. In the seventeenth century, in such capitals as Annap-
olis and Williamsburg, the private patronage of the press would not have
provided a living for the least ambitious of its votaries. Public printing
was the living of the printer in colonial Maryland until after the middle
of the eighteenth century; the publication of the laws was his reason for
being in the Province. The eye of authority looked with uneasiness on
such issues of his press as did not initiate in a government office, and its
hand was continually raised in the gesture of plucking away the license
by favor of which he gained his bread. The literary activity of the Prov-
ince came late into being, and the religious life was of a sort that rarely
sought expression in print. In these pages a few sermons will be taken
account of, and a political document or two will be noticed, but it is pre-
eminently the printing of the Maryland laws that forms the framework
for the early part of the narrative which here ensues.

It is obvious that to have carried through a work of this character with-
out assistance from many persons would have been a supremely tedious
task, but fortunately the author has not been compelled to encounter his
difficulties alone. In the course of his adventure he has found a helping
hand reached out to him in whatever direction he has turned, and for the
assistance which has been freely given by everyone to whom he has ap-
plied, he here acknowledges himself most grateful. As usual in such cases,
however, there are certain individuals whose aid has been of such a charac-
ter as to give him an especial pleasure in its acknowledgment. Foremost
among these must be mentioned Mr. Wilberforce Eames of the New York
Public Library, that kindly book-lover and scholar who by makinghimself
the servant of all American bibliographers has become their master. It is
with an added sense of obligation, too, that the author recalls the interest
displayed in the work at every step in its progress by his chief in the Enoch
Pratt Free Library, Dr. Bernard C. Steiner, whose knowledge of even this
bypath of colonial history has proved to be an unfailing source which could
be drawn upon without restraint, as its richness was yielded always with-

[vii]


 

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A History of Printing in Colonial Maryland: 1686-1776 by Lawrence C. Wroth
Volume 435, Preface 7   View pdf image (33K)
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