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Sower, Christopher

Christopher Sower (both: sō´ər, sou´–), 1693–1758, American printer, b. Germany. In 1724, Sower came to America where he worked first as a tailor and then as a farmer. He learned clockmaking and herbal medicine, and in 1738 he founded a printing shop in Germantown, Pa., using types imported from Germany. A book he printed in 1738 was the first German book printed in America. In the same year he established the first German periodical in America, at first a quarterly, later a monthly. In 1743 he printed a German Bible, the second Bible printed in America (the first was the Bible translated into "the Indian Language" in 1663 by John Eliot). His son Christopher Sower, 1721–84, established in Germantown the first type foundry in America in 1772. He printed the second Sower German Bible in 1763, the third in 1776. He was a bishop of the Baptist Dunker sect and attacked slavery from the pulpit and the family newspaper. Accused of treason, Sower suffered imprisonment, abuse, and confiscation of his property as a result of clearly stating his pacifist principles during the Revolution.

See F. Reichmann, Christopher Sower, Sr., 1694–1758: An Annotated Bibliography (1943).

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Sauer, Christopher

Christopher Sauer: see Sower, Christopher.

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Sower, Christopher

Sower, Christopher

SOWER, CHRISTOPHER. (1754–1799). Loyalist. Pennsylvania. Born on 27 January 1754 at Germantown, Pennsylvania, Sower (Sauer) was the grandson and son of prominent printers of the same name, all three of whom operated a German language press. The father, a bishop of the Dunkards, a pacifist denomination, had all his property, worth more than ten thousand pounds, confiscated by Pennsylvania for his views. The younger Christopher Sower and his brother Peter published the Germantowner Zeitung, which published articles disrespectful of the Patriot cause. In 1776 Pennsylvania ordered the suspension of the newspaper. When the British arrived, Sower moved to Philadelphia in September 1777 and continued his paper under the title of Staats Courier. On 5 December 1777 he was wounded and captured at Germantown (presumably in connection with the affair of Whitemarsh) and on 10 January 1778 was exchanged. He went to New York City when the British evacuated Philadelphia in June 1778.

In New York City he became the link between Sir Henry Clinton and the Pennsylvania Loyalists in the frontier counties of Lancaster, Northumberland, and York. During the next three years he was the principal agent for William Rankin, working as well with Major John André. When the British evacuated New York City in 1783 he went to England, where he was granted £1,289 to cover his war losses by confiscation. Two years later he went to New Brunswick as the king's printer and deputy postmaster general, publishing the Royal Gazette. In 1799 he returned to the United States, dying at the home of his brother Samuel in Baltimore on 3 July 1799.

SEE ALSO Rankin, William; Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Hocker, E. W. The Sower Printing House of Colonial Times. Norristown: Pennsylvania German Society, 1948.

                             revised by Michael Bellesiles

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