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John Dunlap Passes Away

Today in Masonic History John Dunlap passes away in 1812.

John Dunlap was an Irish-born American printer.

Dunlap was born in Strabane, County Tyrone, Ireland, which is now part of Northern Ireland, in 1747. At the age of 10 in 1757, he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to apprentice with his uncle. His uncle was a printer and bookseller. In 1766, his uncle retired, leaving Dunlap to run the business. Eventually Dunlap purchased the business from his uncle.

Dunlap made his living largely by printing sermons. He also printed handbills and broadsides, a large sheet of paper printed on one side with extensive information on it. He also published the Pennsylvania Packet, which was also known as the General Adviser, a weekly newspaper.

During the American Revolution, Dunlap joined the First Troop Philadelphia City Calvary. He participated in the Battle of Trenton and the Battle of Princeton under General George Washington. He continued to with the unit after the war and was involved in the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794. It was also during the war that Dunlap began amassing his fortune by buying up the property that was seized from loyalists who refused to take the new Pennsylvania Loyalty Oath.

In 1776, Dunlap received a very lucrative printing contract with the Continental Congress. On the evening of July 4th, 1776, John Hancock contacted Dunlap and asked him to print up 200 broadsides with the Declaration of Independence on it. Those broadsides have to be known as "Dunlap Broadsides." In 1777 he received a contract to print Journals of the Continental Congress, the official record of the Continental Congress. He lost the contract in 1779 when his newspaper printed a leaked letter detailing the support that France had provided to the American Revolution, which at the time was still secret.

In 1784, Dunlap's newspaper went from a weekly to a daily with the new title North American and United States Gazette. The paper was not the first daily paper in Philadelphia, it was the first successful one.

By 1795, Dunlap was ready to retire. He had a wide variety of real estate holdings, including some in Kentucky. Retirement did not suit Dunlap and according to some of his friends he became a drunkard in his final years.

Dunlap passed away in Philadelphia on November 27th, 1812.

Dunlap was a member of Lodge No. 2 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.