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New England Bravery

New England Bravery Broadside
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[ This description is from the project: Witness to America's Past ]

News of the victory at Louisbourg was celebrated in New England by bonfires, bell-ringing, fireworks, official announcements and proclamations, and also in song and verse. Contemporary newspaper accounts, pamphlets, and more ephemeral broadside announcements praised the military prowess of New Englanders. "New England Bravery," set to the tune of the old English ballad of Chevy-Chase, is only one of many contemporary accounts, unusual for the amount of specific detail about operations contained in the verses, but also for the large woodcut decoration at the head of the sheet.

Thomas Fleet (1684-1758), who worked "at the sign of the Heart and Crown in Cornhill" from 1731 to 1764, was one of Boston's most influential printers. As a young man, he had been on of the "Couranteers," who with Benjamin Franklin, provided satirical material for James Franklin's New England Courant in the 1720s. Together with his sons, and followed by his grandsons, Thomas Fleet later ran the most successful printing shop in eighteenth-century Boston. Their publications included books, pamphlets, broadsides, and also the Boston Evening-Post, the most important newspaper of its day, until it ceased publication at the beginning of the American Revolution.1

Even very successful New England printers were frugal with their time and materials; the same woodcut that illustrates this broadside celebration of the fall of fortress Louisbourg, was used more than thirty years later on a broadside titled Two Favorite Songs Made on the Evacuation of Boston, by the British Troops, on the 17th of March 1776.2 Although not a finely drawn rendition of the Boston skyline, the woodcut is accurate in detailing specific buildings, including the lighthouse in the harbor.

At the Historical Society, New England Bravery forms part of a collection of more than 10,000 broadsides—advertisements, announcements, notices, proclamations, and the like—printed on one side of a sheet to be circulated or posted in the colonial and early national period.

1. David W. Pitre. "Thomas and John Fleet." Boston Printers, Publishers and Booksellers: 1640-1800. Benjamin Franklin, V, ed. Boston, 1980.

2. Worthington C. Ford., comp. Broadsides, Ballads &c. Printed in Massachusetts 1639-1800. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society 75. (1922).