- David T. Z. Mindich
Harris, Benjamin (fl. 1673–1716), publisher, writer, and first American journalist, was born in Great Britain, of unknown parents. Harris married a woman named either Sarah or Ruth and had at least one son. Harris’s turbulent career as a sensationalistic and incautious, yet successful, publisher began in London in 1673 when he began to produce religious books and pamphlets, many attacking Catholics. In 1679 Harris, an ardent Anabaptist, joined Titus Oates in publicizing the “Popish Plot” and worked with other Whigs, including the earl of Shaftesbury, in trying to exclude the Catholic brother of King Charles II (later James II) from succeeding him. Charles resisted these moves, dissolving Parliament and arresting Shaftesbury in 1681; Oates was arrested when James gained the Crown in 1685. Harris, after publishing the pamphlet ...