1776 Newspaper Gives Oregonians A Glimpse Of History

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Folks in Hermiston. Ore. are getting a different take on the country’s independence this week.

Tom Lain of Hermiston, bought a newspaper in a San Francisco antique store almost 20 years ago. The July 3, 1776, edition of the Pennsylvania Gazette, a newspaper once owned by Benjamin Franklin, is now on display at the Hermiston Post Office.

Lain said that he was browsing around the antique store, when an elderly woman walked in to the shop with a stack of old newspapers on her arm. Thinking Lain was the store owner, she offered to sell the papers to him.

He fetched the proprietor who bought the papers. And Lain talked the man into giving him first pick.

As he flipped through the pages, he paused when he saw July 3, 1776, on the dateline.

“That was the first date I recognized that was close to anything important,” Lain said.

The edition came out a day after the Continental Congress declared independence from England – just as the British fleet and army reached New York. Two days later, Congress signed the Declaration of Independence.

“Yesterday, the Continental Congress declared the United Colonies free and independent states,” a reporter wrote in the July 3 edition.

The article implored the colonists to be ready at a moment’s notice for action and urged men and boys between the ages of 14 and 70 to enlist.

The Gazette’s pages and type are smaller than those of today’s newspapers. Lain used a magnifying glass to transcribe a portion of the paper.

“Each paragraph took about a sheet of paper,” Lain said. “You can see why Benjamin Franklin invented eye glasses.”

The newspaper has been displayed a few other times elsewhere. And Hermiston Postmaster Kim Gillet agreed to display the framed newspaper in a glass case in the main service area where people standing in line could take a look.

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