Writing Wrongs - Anthony Haswell's Divisive Content

Writing Wrongs - Anthony Haswell's Divisive Content

To further our study of the Alien and Sedition Acts, we today piggyback off of yesterday’s article on Matthew Lyon with the story of Anthony Haswell.

Haswell was also arrested under the Alien and Sedition Acts, though he never quite reached the level of success Haswell enjoyed.

Anthony Haswell

In 1769, a 13-year-old Anthony Haswell arrived in Massachusetts with his father and brother.

Anthony’s father returned to Europe a year later and his brother soon thereafter.

Although Haswell had cousins in Boston, he found himself in the poorhouse and was soon apprenticed to a local printer.


Haswell made the best of his situation.

He learned the printing trade and was able to buy himself out of servitude by the age of 19.

During this time, he witnessed the Boston Massacre and dedicated himself to the Patriot Cause.

While it is believed that Anthony served in the Continental Army, there are no known primary resources to confirm it.

Instead, he made a name for himself printing articles in support of the Continental Army.


After the close of the Revolutionary War, Haswell relocated to Burlington, Vermont.

He opened one of the first print shops in the State and was chosen as Postmaster General. He became better known when he published the original run of Reason: the Only Oracle of Man. This was the only book written by famed Green Mountain Boy Ethan Allen.

The book received heavy criticism as it was a deist text which heavily criticized belief in God. 


Fifteen years later, Anthony had established himself as one of the preeminent Democratic-Republican printers in the United States.

Haswell reprinted articles composed by Matthew Lyon and Benjamin Franklin Bache. When they were arrested under the Alien and Sedition Acts, he too was taken prisoner.

A Sheriff arrived at Haswell’s home in the middle of the night and took him 50 miles to be held (which is ironic, as one of the complaints against Great Britain was they were taking people across the ocean for trial).


Haswell was tried by Associate Justice of the Supreme Court William Paterson who was riding the circuit. 

Anthony was convicted and given a punishment of $200 in fines and two months in jail.

After his release, Haswell continued publishing and was eventually given government contracts by the Jefferson and Madison Administrations.

There were many important Founders who ran print shops during the Revolution.

Here are a few you might like:

Mary Katherine Goddard Reveals the Signers of the Declaration

John Dunlap Announces American Independence

The Sedition of Benjamin Franklin Bache

Anthony Haswell’s only biography was written in 1929.

‘Printer-Patriot-Ballader’ takes a more in depth look at the man’s life,. Notably, it reviews his tragic personal life.

If you’d like a copy you can pick one up through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same).

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