<< Return to People Main Menu
Multimedia Presentation (requires Flash)


Andrew Bradford: His Life, Work, and Contributions


About Andrew Bradford

Andrew Bradford's Work life

Career High's & Contributions

The First Philadelphia Magazine

Printing and Publishing History




About Andrew Bradford:

Birth:  1686, Philadelphia PA

Death:  November 24, 1742

Occupation:  Printer, Publisher

Parents: William Bradford:  Pioneer Printer of middle colonies
               Elizabeth Sowle:  Daughter of Andrew Sowle, a London printer and publisher


At seven years of age Andrew Bradford moved with his father to New York City.  His education began here where he worked alongside his father learning the printing trade in his fathers shop.  Learning the printing trade was the only education he obtained and mastered throughout his life (Humphrey, 1991). 

Andrew Bradford’s Work Life

In 1709 Andrew Bradford was listed as a freeman, a person who enjoys or is entitled to citizenship, franchise, or other special privilege, and printer of New York, and was offered to become the “colony’s printer” for Rhode Island but declined the offer (Craig, 2000). 

The Move to Philadelphia:

In 1713 Andrew Bradford returned to his birthplace, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but still continued to partner with his father.  He was then Hired to publish, “The Acts and Laws of the Province of Pennsylvania, “the first printed collection of the colony’s laws (Craig, 2000). 

Andrew Bradford was later named, “Printer to the Province” and for the next ten years, Andrew Bradford was the only printer in the colony of Pennsylvania.  He also became an importer of books published in England and sold these in his shop (Council of Learned Societies, 2006).

Career High’s and Contributions

His Newspaper:

On December 22, 1719, Andrew Bradford began the American Weekly Mercury-the first newspaper in Pennsylvania, and the third in the United States.  The newspaper continued to publish throughout his lifetime and even continued for seven years after his death.



Setting an Example:

In 1721 he was bold enough to express a political belief concerning government affairs without permission and was summoned before the Council and later sent to prison.  However, because of his strong beliefs he was supported by his fellow citizens and was elected councilman of the city. 

In supporting his own case, he later set forth those principles, that later enabled Andrew Hamilton, in New York City, to free John Peter Zenger in the most famous case for press freedom in colonial days (Council of Learned Societies, 2006).  

Andrew Bradford’s Competition:

Bradford enjoyed ten years of operation without competition, but for a growing city such as Philadelphia, his shop could not be the only one forever.  Samuel Keimer set up shop in Philadelphia in 1723.  However, following him was Bradford’s biggest rival, Benjamin Franklin, who established his own business, which began the competition on Philadelphia’s first magazine (Humphrey, 1991). 

The First Philadelphia Magazine 



The Race to the First Magazine

In 1740 Benjamin Franklin came up with the idea to publish a monthly political and historical magazine that would be similar in style and content to journals published in Britain.

He decided to approach John Webbe, a Philadelphia lawyer to be his editor and discussed profits and ideas with him.  Webbe then decided to negotiate a more profitable arrangement and revealed Franklin’s magazine plans to Andrew Bradford.

Bradford immediately began plans for his magazine and proposed his ideas in advertisements in his own newspaper, the American Weekly Mercury.  Andrew Bradford managed to win the race to publish his magazine first, The American Weekly Magazine, A Monthly View of the Political State of the British Colonies.  The first issue, although dated in January, appeared February 13, 1741, three days prior to Franklin’s, The general Magazine (Humphrey, 1991).

The American Weekly Magazine:

The magazine only lasted three issues, circulating until March 1741.  However Bradford’s proposed to use the magazine to,

  1. Inform the public concerning governmental affairs
  2. Preserve the records of the colonies.
  3. The magazine would contain stories and items of inters tot everyone, such as reports about court trials, prices and exchange rates, and controversies in other colonies
  4. The magazine would be open to all and that they will consider inserting information or “performances” sent to them as long as they are worthy of the public (Humphrey, 1991).  

Printing and Publishing History

The Power point slide show will provide interesting ideas, information and inventions on the history of printing and publishing. The links below will show pictures of a few of the inventions mentioned in the slide show.

To view a picture of the screw press please visit, http://www.mainz.de/gutenberg/english/erfindun.htm and scroll to the bottom of the page.

To view a picture of the screw press please visit, http://www.mainz.de/gutenberg/english/erfindun.htm and scroll to the bottom of the page.

Back To Top