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Main Title:
Isaiah Thomas Collection

Type of Material: Correspondence
Personal Name: Isaiah Thomas; William Johnson
Collection ID: Collection 465
Creator: Isaiah Thomas
Extent: 1 folio
Span Dates: 1805


Isaiah Thomas Collection
Collection 465

Collection Description
Autographed letter signed by Isaiah Thomas (1749-1831) to William Johnson. 
Dated September 24, 1805; written from Boston, Massachusetts. 
Dimensions: 18 cm. x 24 cm. 

Processing Note
Finding aid by Kristen J. Nyitray, March 2016. Transcription by Kichang Jung, Andrew Veglucci, Justin Chan (ACH 102.S18, spring 2016) and Nicole Shaw (intern).    

Historical Context

In this letter, Isaiah Thomas is requesting payment for bibles, and is soliciting the help of William Johnson to secure the monies from an unknown buyer.

Isaiah Thomas (1749-1831) was a celebrated printer and publisher credited with aiding the efforts of the Patriots as they fought for American independence from the British. Thomas was born in January of 1749 in Boston, Massachusetts, and by the time he was seven had become an apprentice to a Boston printer. In 1770, he formed a partnership to begin publication of the newspaper Massachusetts Spy, which he subsequently published alone a year later in 1771. This publication was one of the first papers to target the middle class, and as such it became one of the most widely read newspapers in the colonies. The content of the paper was highly political and Thomas’ motto was “open to all parties, but influenced by none.” This was particularly fitting, as Thomas staunchly supported George Washington and the Federalists, despite numerous threats from British officials and Loyalists. Thomas worked in tandem with Patriots John Hancock and Paul Revere to fight for independence. Thomas played a large role in convincing the people of Massachusetts to join the revolution against the British. His newspaper became so influential that the British called for his arrest and execution. Loyalists in Boston threatened to destroy his printing office if he did not stop publishing against British rule. Deciding that it was too dangerous to remain in Boston, he relocated to Worcester, MA, where he continued to publish in support of the Patriots. There he was the first to report the Battles of Lexington and Concord, giving eyewitness accounts that finally convinced many of the remaining loyalists to join in the cause against the British. He also performed the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in Worcester. After the war, Thomas continued to publish from Worcester. In 1775, he began publishing the New England Almanac, which was continued by his son, Isaiah Thomas Jr., after his death. Thomas founded the American Antiquarian Society in 1812, the oldest historical society of American records. He left his library collections, newspapers and personal records to the American Antiquarian Society upon his death in April of 1831. Thomas is buried at the Rural Cemetery in Worcester. - Compiled by Nicole Shaw.


Boston, Sept. 24th 1805

Esteemed Friend,

Your favor of the 21(st) of the 8th mo.

I have written to my Clerk respecting

the Error you mention in the settlement

of our account.- He charged interest, it

seems, for a longer term than he should

conformably to an agreement of 90 days

credit - the Bibles being charged at Cash

price prompt payment; he knew not the agreement.

I would inform you that [Mormain’s?]

note is not yet all paid. - about 15 dollars

are yet due - perhaps he may pay it

some time or other - he is now absent I

believe - I have not seen him for some

months; but I do not view you as account-

able for the deficiency, as I have neglected

to return the note seasonably.-

I hope you may favor me with

an order for the amount of the Error, &

for a greater amount of agreeable;

if not I will embrace some opportu-

nity to remit you the amount what appears to be due.

Your friend, (&)

I. Thomas

Wm [William] Johnson.

My friend Wm. [William] A. presents his requests.


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