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Nathaniel Willis

Nathaniel Willis was one of the younger patriots who participated in the Boston Tea Party protest. He was only 18 years old when the protest was carried out; he was a publisher by profession and worked for Boston Independent Chronicle. Born in 1755, Nathaniel was the son of Charles and Abigail Willis. Despite being the third child, he became the first literary person in his family. During the Revolution he published the Boston’s patriot newspaper called Independent Chronicle. Interestingly, the paper was published from the same building in which Benjamin Franklin also worked as a printer. Willis lived quite an active life. In addition to joining his compatriots in the Boston Tea Party he was a distinguished horseman and served in the military. As a part of the Boston regiment he took part in an expedition to Rhode Island under General Sullivan. After the Revolutionary War, in 1784, he sold his interest in the Independent Chronicle and became one of the pioneer journalists in the unsettled West. He moved to several different places, starting a paper in each city he lived in; including Winchester, Virginia, Shepardstown, and Martinsburg where he founded the Potomac Guardian, the first newspaper in what was then known as the Northwest Territory. He was printer to the government of the territory, and afterwards held an agency in the Post Office Department. He bought and cultivated a farm near Chillicothe, where he ended his days April 1st, 1831. Interestingly, Willis was the grandfather of N. P. Willis, an American author, poet and editor who worked with several notable American writers, including Edgar Allan Poe and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.


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