Object of the Month

New Year's Address

The Carriers of the New England Palladium,
To Their Patrons, Greeting: . . . Jan. 1, 1807
(Boston: Palladium Office, 1807).
Broadside collection, Massachusetts Historical Society.

THIS BROADSIDE POEM, issued on January 1, 1807, comprises an address from newspaper carriers to the readers of the New-England Palladium, a semi-weekly newspaper published in Boston. New Year's Day "Carriers' Addresses" were distributed with American newspapers as early as 1720 and as late as the early 1900s. Although these published poems varied widely in theme and presentation, their purpose remained the same: the carriers were seeking tips.

New Year's Day greetings from laborers and tradesmen appeared in England at least as early as 1686. In America, similar addresses also came from workers in a variety of service professions, but none to the extent of the newspaper carriers. These poems often described the hardships faced by the carriers, particularly in winter, and generally appealed directly to the readers' generosity. Other poems served as a sort of year in review, with a humorous retelling of local and national events, usually with a heavy emphasis on politics.

In the address shown on this page, the poet wishes for good fortune in the coming year for all of the Palladium's readers, be they doctors, lawyers, or mechanics. Only in the last stanza does the plea for "some small douceur" (a French word meaning sweetness or kindness, specifically referring to a gratuity) appear.

The broadside collection at the Massachusetts Historical Society includes many Carriers' Addresses, ranging in date from 1773 through the mid 19th century. For more information on broadsides at the MHS, please visit the Broadsides page on the Society's website.


Top