Justice Story’s Copy of the National Intelligencer From January 30, 1805

May 30th, 2014

I recently acquired from eBay a copy of the National Intelligencer – Washington Advertiser from January 30, 1805 owned by none other than Joseph Story. At the top of the newspaper is his signature, “J. Story.” The seller offered these commentaries on why Story, who at the time was in private practice in Boston, would sign and maintain the newspapers:

These newspapers were bound in book format 200 years ago for Joseph Story himself comprising the years 1804 & 1805. The binding was deteriorated so I had removed the editions and have been selling one newspaper a week for over two years now and my supply is dwindling. As for your second question, Story would have had each issue wrapped and mailed to him while in Boston. The “intelligencer’ was at the time known as the best way to keep tabs on the happenings of our Nation’s capitol next to being there personally (he did eventually relocate). He must have really valued the information gleaned from the ‘Intelligencer’ so much that he had two years worth of issues bound for future reference, each one signed by him in the same right-hand section of the masthead.

The Story Newspapers were left to me by my grandfather, an avid collector of history for over 50 years. The method of obtaining out-of-town newspapers up until the mid 19th century was by individual subscription. If a merchant purchased bundles of newspapers 200 years ago he would have suffered a great loss with the papers that did not sell. Not until the age of the steamboat and steam press did newspaper publishers offer to buy-back unsold issues as they still do to this day. I am also sure that Postmasters were not allowed to sell newspapers or conduct any unauthorized business in their official capacity.

Here it is:




I also found fascinating the various articles and notices in the paper.

For example, the sale of a 236 acre plantation.


Here is an ad for a runaway slave.

Some time in April last a bright Mulatto woman named Fanny, she is nearly 6 feet high and stout in proportion, thick lips, middling large eyes, very large breasts, bends forward when she stands or walks, quick in speech, and has very large feet, her apparel is not remembered, took with her a large bundle thereof, and it is probable often changes them. I have been informed she is in the service of a Mr. Thompson in Georgetown, whoever secures her in Washington city jail so that her mistress Mrs. Sarah Brooks gets her again or will deliver her to the subscriber in Upper Marlboro shall receive ten dollars and all reasonable expenses paid by Saml. J. Coolidge.



Here is an address given by President JEfferson