The Role of Printed Media in Generating Support for the Independence Movement

Mass media is often called “the Fourth Estate” for the great influence it has on the society. Every revolution and war is supported by millions of booklets that fall from the planes and cover the facades of houses. People need to know what is going on in the society and why they should take a gun and go to strike. The Independence movement in the North American British Colonies from 1770 to 1776 was not an exception: printed media played one the major role in generating support for the political changes.

Michael H. Harris writes in his study “Historians Assess the Impact of Print on the Course of American History; The Revolution as a Test Case” that the movement was started by wealthy people of the United States, who wanted to gain more power and money. Of course, this humdrum idea could not become the slogan of revolution, so the journalists had to work hard to create the right romantic image. He notes the following thing:

The Revolution was a movement begun by a group of wealthy conservatives for essentially economic motives and subsequently arrogated by a small band of radical conspirators using the debate with Britain to accomplish other, more important political, economic, and social ends within the colonies. (Harris , 1973)

The result of the movement for independence was impossible without the written support of radicals like Joseph Warren, Samuel Adams, and James Otis. They definitely understood that if the intellectual part of the society would support them, the revolution might get more efficient advocates then simple rural people. That is why the printed media was one of the key things that pushed the progress in the society.

During the Independence movement the printed media was not that diverse as it is now. Though, the situation changed and now it is possible to say that one source of information is propaganda, and two of them form a democratic opposition. The American society of that time needed propaganda, so the printed media fulfilled its mission.


Harris, M. H. (1973). Historians Assess the Impact of Print on the Course of American History; the Revolution as a Test Case. (pp. 127-147). Retrieved from

Ready to start?