SAMUEL LOUDON

Program
NYS Historic
Subject
People
Location
Loudon Drive and Old Main St., Fishkill, NY
Lat/Long
41.5342, -73.896074
Grant Recipient
Fishkill Historical Society
Historic Marker

SAMUEL LOUDON

Inscription

SAMUEL LOUDON
PRINTED THE NEW YORK STATE
CONSTITUTION IN FISHKILL
IN 1777. FISHKILL POSTMASTER
DURING THE REVOLUTIONARY
WAR YEARS 1777-1783
WILLIAM G. POMEROY FOUNDATION 2014

In 1777, local resident Samuel Loudon printed the New York State Constitution. Loudon also served as the Fishkill Postmaster from 1777-1783, during the American Revolutionary War years.

According to Founder’s Online, Samuel Loudon was a native of Ireland who had come to America before the Revolution, establishing The New-York Packet, and The American Advertiser, in January 1776. During the British occupation of New York City he published his paper at Fishkill, New York; he returned to New York City soon after the British evacuation.

The Fishkill Historical Society notes that it was “Loudon’s Revolutionary War print shop” which produced the first copies of the New York State Constitution in April 1777. Here, under contract as official state printer, Samuel Loudon turned out orders for the Continental Army, served as first postmaster 1776-1783 when Fishkill was the only post office in the state, published a newspaper, printed state currency, and, in 1777, printed the first 2,090 copies of the New York State Constitution for distribution to the public.

Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, Volume 31 (1922) described Loudon as “one of the earliest printers in the Union.” During the American Revolution he held “the office of printer to this [New York] state, and performed its various duties with integrity.” Additionally, Isaiah Thomas’ The History of Printing in American with a Biography of Printers, Vol. 1 (1874) explains that in 1775 Loudon purchased a part of the printing materials owned by a man named Shober with whom he began printing. Soon thereafter, Shober retired to a farm, however, and Loudon purchased the remainder of the printing materials. He opened a printing house “in Water street [sic], between the Coffee house and the Old Slip.” A short time before the British Army took possession of the City, in 1776, he removed with his press to Fishkill, and there published The New York Packet until the war ended. He returned to the city and remained in business long after, “print[ing] a few books, and keep[ing] a book store.”

In an historical letter from the National Archives’ Hamilton Papers, dated May 22, 1789 to Alexander Hamilton, Loudon appealed to Hamilton to reclaim his printing contract. According to Founder’s Online, rivalry for the public printing contract of the newly formed United States government was keen. In May 1789, all the leading New York printers—Archibald McLean, Francis Childs, Thomas Greenleaf, Samuel Loudon, and John Fenno—applied for the contract. While the laws of New York State had been printed in 1789 by Loudon, Francis Childs, editor of The Daily Advertiser, received the job for the following year, Loudon suspected, for political reasons.

I have lost the State printing, tho’ but of little advantage, yet it was worth a little—for the sole reason, because I took sides with the Federalists. I had been told during last summer, that I would have the printing business for that very reason. I mention this circumstance to you to excite your friendship and exertion in my behalf.

Towards the end of Loudon’s life, the Antiquarian Society noted that “personal infirmities rendered it necessary to retire from business.” According to Thomas, he died at Middletown Point, NJ, February 24, 1813, aged 86. In 2014, the William G. Pomeroy Foundation State Roadside Marker was awarded to Fishkill Historical Society near the site of Loudon’s print shop. In 2019, the location was an intersection in a commercial section of Fishkill near Sarah Taylor Park.