Two Presses of the 19th Century
In the early 19th century, as the eastern half of the continent raced into the age of industrialization, New Mexico was poised to receive its first printing press. It came from St. Louis, Missouri via the Santa Fe Trail in 1834, into the vast and isolated territory of what was then the Republic of Mexico. Here the scant population was scattered among rural villages and formal learning opportunities were few.
New Mexico's only press more than a decade after its arrival, the little wood and iron handpress ushered in a new era of communication and opened a door for independent publishers.
Notable among these were Padre Antonio José Martínez and later, John Menaul, a Presbyterian missionary. Both men of faith, they followed a long tradition of religious printing, using their presses to educate, Christianize, and to affect the political atmosphere of their times.