Vermont History and Genealogy

December 23, 2006

Anthony Haswell

Filed under: Anthony Haswell, Famous Vermont Residents — thedarwinexception @ 11:29 pm

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Haswell, Anthony.–Editor, publisher, and author, the postmaster-general of the state when it was an independent republic, and in after years one of the victims of the alien and sedition laws, was born at Portsmouth, Eng., April 6, 1756, came to Boston when he was thirteen years old, learned the printer’s trade with Isaiah Thomas, afterwards drifted to Vermont and started the Vermont Gazette at Bennington, June 5, 1783. He was for many years one of the public printers of the state, the work being divided between his and the press established at Windsor about the same time. The Legislature in 1784 passed an act establishing post offices at Bennington, Brattleboro, Rutland, Windsor, and Newbury, and made him postmaster-general, and this position he held with extensive powers and
increasing business until the state was admitted to the Union in 1791. In national politics he then became an ardent Republican, and when Mathew Lyon was prosecuted under the sedition law, he criticized the proceeding severely in his paper, and also published another article severely condemning President Adams’ appointment to office. .

The articles, though they showed considerable warmth of feeling, were not anywhere near as bad as have been published thousands of times since in political controversy without exciting more than passing attention, and they did not begin to compare for bitterness and personal invective with the utterances which the Federalists were constantly pouring forth from both press and pulpit against Jefferson and the Democratic leaders. Nevertheless, he was indicted
before the United States Circuit court, at Windsor, and sentenced by Judge Patterson to $200 fine and two months’ imprisonment. He was allowed to serve out the imprisonment in the jail at Bennington, but the fine he had to pay, and it was refunded to his descendants over fifty years afterward. The prosecution made him a good deal of a popular hero, as it did Lyon, and the celebration of the Fourth of July in 1800 was postponed at Bennington till July 9, when his term expired, and he was liberated amidst the roar of cannon and a great demonstration of the people.

The publication of the old Bennington Gazette which Mr. Haswell established was continued with occasional interruption both before and after his death, until 1849, when it expired in the hands of his son, John C. Haswell. The elder Haswell also started a paper in Rutland, in 1792, called the “Herald of Freedom,” the progenitor of the present Rutland Herald, but his office was burned after he had issued the fourteenth number, and it was to recoup this misfortune that the Legislature authorized him to raise $200 by lottery. Mr. Haswell ventured twice into the magazine field, starting in March, 1794, “The Monthly Miscellany, or Vermont Magazine,” and on Jan. 8, 1808, another monthly called the “Mental Repast.” Both had a short life, though the latter carried considerable original and interesting matter. He published a good many books and
pamphlets from his office, among them the “Memoirs of Capt. Matthew Phelps” of which he was the author, and he wrote or rather composed much on moral, religious and political subjects, in both prose and verse, for most of his thoughts took shape as he put them into type at his case.

He was a man of decided ability, warm and impulsive temperament and thorough conscientiousness. He was twice married, and dying, May 26, 1816, left numerous
descendants.

Men of Vermont: An Illustrated Biographical History of Vermonters and Sons of
Vermont.
 

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