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What was the first comic book published in the US?

July 7th

The Wasp_cropJuly 7, 1802 — The first comic book, called The Wasp, is published today.

Known for concealing political allegory and rhetoric, this small sheet publication was a biting commentary about President Thomas Jefferson. Indeed, it was so incendiary that it caused a court case — The People of the State of New York v. Harry Croswell — which proved critical to the development of the United States defamation law.

Rev._Harry_Croswell_circa_1835The author and publisher was Robert Rusticoat, Esquire, a pseudonym for political activist Harry Croswell, then 22. The native of Catskill, NY, was a supporter of John Adams’ Federalist Party, which focused on a fiscally sound, nationalistic government.

The political journalist went on to co-found Trinity College in Hartford, CT in 1831, and also found an evening school for the education of adult African-Americans in the city. A key figure in First Amendment battles over freedom of the press and religious freedom, he became the rector of the Trinity Church in New Haven, CT. For 43 years, he grew his church and established seven new churches within the original limits of his parish.

Crowell also published 14 books, and wrote newspaper articles as an editor and journalist weekly for 11 years. Perhaps, though, he is best known for being the first person to define the word cocktail in print.

Words of Wisdom

Cock-tail, then, is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters; it is vulgarly called bittered sling, and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, in as much as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said also, to be of great use to a democratic candidate: because a person having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow anything else. — Harry Croswell, who defined the word cocktail on May 6, 1806, in the Balance and Columbian Repository newspaper

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