February 8

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Boston-Gazette (February 8, 1773).

“MRS. HALL is sensible that the Advertisement in Thursday’s Papers was intended to injure her in the Sale of her House.”

The feud between Patty Hall and her neighbors continued to move back and forth between newspapers.  It began when Hall inserted a notice in the February 1, 1773, edition of the Boston-Gazette.  She accused five of her neighbors of conspiring to drive her out of her house on Hanover Street by making spurious claims in court before dropping the matter and simultaneously vandalizing the house and even throwing stones at her as she passed through her year.  Hall did not give any reason that her neighbors felt such enmity, but she did declare that she could give “a good Title” to anyone who purchased the house.

Rather than waiting a week to respond in the next issue of the Boston-Gazette, Hall’s neighbors inserted a response in the February 4 editions of both the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter and the Massachusetts Spy.  They described themselves as “THE PERSONS mentioned with so much Politeness by Mrs. HALL in her Advertisement” and directed readers to “See Edes and Gill’s last Gazette.”  They advised that the “Conduct of both Parties” would become apparent, “either to their Honor or Disgrace,” upon more extensive examination.  In other words, they cautioned readers not to believe everything that Hall put into print.  At the same time, they warned against trusting the title that Hall offered “until the same shall be determined in a due Course of Law,” clarifying that they had not dropped the case, as Hall indicated, but instead moved it to another court.

Hall had at least one thing in common with her neighbors.  She did not wait to respond in the same newspaper that carried their notice.  She did not allow them that much time to frame the narrative.  Instead, she once again published an advertisement in the Boston-Gazette, this time in the February 8 edition.  Her neighbors apparently decided to insert their advertisement in that newspaper as well.  The compositor conveniently combined the two notices into a single advertisement that told a story for readers.  The format, a short line instead of a full line separating the two notices, allows the possibility that Hall reprinted the advertisement to provide context for her response, but her reference to suspending further advertisements because she had “no Money to trifle with” suggests that she would not have taken on the expense of reprinting an advertisement she found so objectionable.

She certainly meant to acknowledge that “the Advertisement in Thursday’s Papers was intended to injure her in the Sale of her House.”  She intentionally misunderstood the “Compliment to her Politeness,” stressing that she “least intended” any pleasantries because she “knew to whom she was speaking, and chose to address them in a Language they understood.”  She adamantly asserted that she had “no Notion of treating Persons politely” when she suspected them of perpetrating the “dirty Actions” she described in her first advertisements as well as “daubing her Yard and Doors with the most nauseous Filth, beating at her Shutters with Axes and Clubs, and disturbing her with repeated Noises at all Hours of the Night.”  She lamented that she gave her neighbors “no other Provocation” except her “Refusal to cut down Part of her House” until a court determined the true ownership of the land that portion of the dwelling occupied.  Hall claimed that she welcomed a court decision because she was confident that it “will do her Justice, and act without Partiality.”  Beyond the courts, she continued to use the public prints to excoriate her neighbors for their malicious behavior.

Both Hall and her neighbors expected that the public engaged with their version of events across multiple publications and through discussing what they read in one newspaper or another or what their acquaintances told them they had read or heard.  As the adversaries waited for a legal decision from the court, they pursued another sort of vindication in the court of public opinion.

Slavery Advertisements Published February 8, 1773

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements about enslaved people – for sale as individuals or in groups, wanted to purchase or for hire for short periods, runaways who liberated themselves, and those who were subsequently captured and confined in jails and workhouses – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonizers encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonizers who did not purport to own enslaved people were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing enslaved men, women, and children or assisting in the capture of so-called “runaways” who sought to free themselves from bondage. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by enslavers rather than enslaved people themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Boston Evening-Post (February 8, 1773).

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Boston Evening-Post (February 8, 1773).

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Boston Evening-Post (February 8, 1773).

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Boston Evening-Post (February 8, 1773).

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Boston Evening-Post (February 8, 1773).

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Boston-Gazette (February 8, 1773).

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Boston-Gazette (February 8, 1773).

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Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy (February 8, 1773).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (February 8, 1773).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (February 8, 1773).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (February 8, 1773).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (February 8, 1773).

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Pennsylvania Packet (February 8, 1773).

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Pennsylvania Packet (February 8, 1773).

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Pennsylvania Packet (February 8, 1773).

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Supplement to the Pennsylvania Packet (February 8, 1773).

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South-Carolina Gazette (February 8, 1773).

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South-Carolina Gazette (February 8, 1773).

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South-Carolina Gazette (February 8, 1773).

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South-Carolina Gazette (February 8, 1773).

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South-Carolina Gazette (February 8, 1773).

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South-Carolina Gazette (February 8, 1773).

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South-Carolina Gazette (February 8, 1773).

February 7

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago this week?

South-Carolina Gazette (February 4, 1773).

“As complete Assortment as any ever imported into this Province.”

Consumers would not find a larger selection of merchandise anywhere else in the colony.  That was the promise made by Edwards, Fisher, and Company in an advertisement in the February 4, 1773, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette.  The partners reported that they “just imported” a variety of wares in the Fair American from Liverpool as well as “the late Vessels from LONDON,” achieving “as complete [an] Assortment as any ever imported into this Province.”  To demonstrate the point, Edwards, Fisher, and Company deployed dual deadlines, each in larger font than the rest of the advertisement, declaring that they stocked “A VERY LARGE AND COMPLETE ASSORTMENT of GOODS, Suitable for the present Season” and “A LARGE ASSORTMENT OF Ironmongery, Cutlery, Tin-Ware, &c.”  That abbreviation for et cetera alerted readers to even more items.

Lists of goods, short catalogs, followed each of the headlines.  Among the merchandise “Suitable for the present Season,” the merchants carried a “large Quantity of Ladies Calamanco Shoes and Pumps,” “Fashionable Beaver Hatts,” “Mens, Womens, Boys, and Girls Worsted Hose,” “Fashionable Broad Cloths,” a “large Quantity of exceeding good white Plains,” and a variety of other textiles in many different colors and patterns.  Their selection of ironmongery, cutlery, and housewares included everything from “Very neat Parrot Cages” to “Complete Setts of Table China” to “long and short Pipes.”  In some instances, the merchants referred to the packaging materials to suggest the volume of dishes and other ceramics they imported, such as “Crates of yellow Ware” and “Hogsheads [or large barrels] of assorted Delf Ware.”  They offered a tantalizing description of a “large Quantity of Queens Ware,” proclaiming that it included “one Sett of Desert, exceeding elegant, and is the First of the Kind ever imported into this Province.”  Their merchandise was not merely more of the same kinds of items that shoppers could find in other stores and warehouses in Charleston.

Edwards, Fisher, and Company did not publish the longest advertisement for imported consumer goods in that edition of the South-Carolina Gazette.  Others, including John Wilson and a merchant who went by Wakefield, inserted announcements as long or longer.  Wakefield divided his notice into even more categories, while Wilson listed hundreds of items available at his store.  Yet Edwards, Fisher, and Company made a bid for offering the largest selection in their efforts to draw prospective customers to their shop to browse and buy.

February 6

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Providence Gazette (February 6, 1773).

Advertisements omitted will be in our next.”

John Carter, the printer of the Providence Gazette, did not publish many advertisements in the February 6, 1773, edition of his newspaper, despite usually reserving a page or more for that kind of content.  The third page featured six brief advertisements that accounted for less than half a column and a longer notice about the benefits of “building a Bridge, across Seaconk River, between the Towns of Providence and Rehoboth.”  Having published many advertisements for his own projects, including the New-England Almanack for 1773 and subscription proposals for English Liberties, or, The Free-born Subject’s Inheritance, in recent issues, the printer did not include any of his own notices among the half dozen that made it into the February 6 edition.  He likely did not want to upset paying customers by giving space to his own advertisements over those they paid him to publish.  A short note appeared after those advertisements that did appear: “Advertisements omitted will be in our next.”  Carter alerted readers to additional content while also assuring advertisers that the newspaper would indeed disseminate their notices in the near future.

The note about the advertisements was one of several that gave directions and helped readers navigate that issue of the Providence Gazette.  Carter devoted most of the issue to a response to a speech that Thomas Hutchinson, governor of Massachusetts, recently delivered.  That response occupied the entire first page.  A note at the bottom of the third column instructed readers to “[See the Fourth Page.]”  The response filled most of that page.  Carter inserted another response, the one that spurred Isaiah Thomas to publish an extraordinary issue of the Massachusetts Spy on January 29, midway through the third column.  At the bottom, another note directed readers to “[See the Second Page.]”  That response filled the entire second page and continued onto the third page, but readers did not need additional directions to follow the flow.  That item did not conclude on the third page.  Instead, Carter inserted a note, “[The Remainder in our next.],” and provided brief news updates from New York, Newport, and Providence as well as the public service announcement about the proposed bridge and the six brief advertisements.  Carter provided a substantial amount of news from Massachusetts, but also created a cliffhanger to encourage readers to peruse the next issue.

What explained the strange format and all the jumping from page to page required to make sense of the content in that edition of the Providence Gazette?  Carter, like other printers, published a newspaper that consisted of four pages, created by printing two pages on each side of a broadsheet and then folding it in half.  Printers usually set the type and printed the first and fourth pages on one side, let the ink dry while they set the type for the second and third pages, and then printed those last two pages.  That process explains why the news began on the first page, continued on fourth page, moved back to the second page, and continued once again on the third page.  It also explains why so many notes giving directions to readers appeared in that issue of the Providence Gazette.

Although printers depended on advertising revenue to make newspapers viable, they sometimes opted to temporarily delay publication of some notices.  Such was the case when Carter received news that he considered important enough to displace most advertisements for a week.  Patriots in Massachusetts making their case in favor of the liberties of colonizers in opposition to the abuses of Parliament, Carter concluded, justified delaying publication of some advertisements by a week.

February 5

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

New-Hampshire Gazette (February 5, 1773).

“He has open’d SHOP near LIBERTY BRIDGE.”

William Knight, a “PERUKE MAKER and HAIR DRESSER, from London,” took to the pages of the New-Hampshire Gazette in January and February 1773 to alert readers that “he has open’d SHOP” in Portsmouth.  The wigmaker announced that he “will be ready to serve any Persons on reasonable Terms, who incline to employ him, and at shortest Notice.”  He gave no other directions to his shop other than stating that it was “near LIBERTY BRIDGE,” a landmark familiar to residents of the town.

The bridge likely gained that name in late 1765 or early 1766 as colonizers protested the Stamp Act that went into effect on November 1, 1765.  In November 1765, Barnabas Clarke ran an advertisement that did not include any directions to his shop.  A month later, he simply stated that prospective customers could purchase flour, pork, and other commodities “At his STORE in Portsmouth.”  At the end of March 1766, however, he published a new advertisement that included a headline that prominently made reference to what became a significant landmark: “TO BE SOLD / By Barnabas Clarke, / Near Liberty-Bridge.”  By then, the bridge had been known by that name for at least a couple of months.  The January 20, 1766, edition of the Boston Evening-Post carried a story about a protest against that Stamp Act that occurred in Portsmouth on January 9, reporting that “a flag with the words … LIBERTY, PROPERTY, and NO STAMPS … is now fixed near LIBERTY-BRIDGE.”

Although Parliament relented and repealed the Stamp Act in the spring of 1766, colonizers continued to refer to the bridge as Liberty Bridge.  That name continued to appear in advertisements that ran in the New-Hampshire Gazette throughout the imperial crisis that culminated in thirteen colonies declaring independence.  Even a newcomer, like Knight, a wigmaker “form London,” evoked memories of the Stamp Act and protests when he incorporated the landmark into his newspaper advertisement and the directions he gave when he spoke to colonizers as he went about his business around town.

February 4

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (February 4, 1773).

“The Conduct of the Parties from first to last will best appear … when the Evidences on both Sides are properly examined.”

Printers selected which items appeared among the news and editorials in their newspapers, yet colonizers exercised some amount of editorial authority when they published news in the form of advertisements.  Consider and exchange between Patty Hall and her neighbors in two newspapers published in Boston in the first week of February 1773.

Hall initiated the exchange with an advertisement in the February 1 edition of the Boston-Gazette.  Placing the notice for the purpose of selling a house, Hall seized the opportunity to name several of her neighbors and report that they “made a Complaint to the Selectmen, about a Piece of Land; and they laid it before the Grand Jury; and after making a great Bustle, dropt the Matter.”  The matter being settled, Hall declared that the purchaser “may depend that a good Title will be given.”  According to Hall, that was only the beginning of the trouble she supposedly had with her neighbors.  She claimed that at the same time she “had her Windows broke, Spouts tore down, the Drane stopt,and frequently Stones thrown at all Parts of the House.”  To make matters even worse, she “very nearly escap’d a great Stone thrown at her passing thro’ the Yard.”  She suspected that her neighbors were directly responsible or “employ somebody to do it” and offered a reward to anyone “that will apprehend the Person or Persons concern’d.”

Boston-Gazette (February 1, 1773).

The neighbors that Hall named – “Constable Hale, James Bailey, Samuel Sloan, Retailer, Elizabeth Clarke and Nowell, and Deacon Barrett” – objected to the version of events that Hall published in the Boston-Gazette.  Rather than wait a week to make their rebuttal in the next edition of that newspaper, they inserted their own notice in both the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter and the Massachusetts Spy just three days later.  They identified themselves as “THE PERSON mentioned with so much Politeness by Mrs. HALL in her advertisement, *” and directed readers to “* See Edes and Gill’s last Gazette.”  They offered clarifications about the outcome of the “Bustle” in court, stating that when Hall “gave Notice that the Matter was dropt, she should have added,—  “in order to be taken up at another Court.’”  Unlike Hall, the neighbors considered the matter far from settled.  They encouraged others “to suspend their Judgment both as to the Merits of the Cause and the Title … until the same shall be determined in a due course of law.”  As for the other allegations made by Hall, her neighbors implied that she fabricated the story.  “The Conduct of the Parties from first to last will best appear, either to their Honor or Disgrace,” they asserted, “when the Evidences on both Sides are properly examined.”  In refusing the dignify Hall’s allegations with any more of a response, her neighbors suggested they had no merit.

Hall wished to frame the narrative of her troubles with her neighbors.  Purchasing a paid notice in one of the local newspapers allowed her to do so.  Similarly, those neighbors also bought advertising space to tell their side of the story.  This allowed both parties to bypass the printer-editors of the Boston-Gazette, the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter, and the Massachusetts Spy to determine for themselves what kind of content the public read or heard about as colonizers discussed the altercation that appeared among newspaper advertisements that delivered all kinds of local news.

Slavery Advertisements Published February 4, 1773

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements about enslaved people – for sale as individuals or in groups, wanted to purchase or for hire for short periods, runaways who liberated themselves, and those who were subsequently captured and confined in jails and workhouses – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonizers encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonizers who did not purport to own enslaved people were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing enslaved men, women, and children or assisting in the capture of so-called “runaways” who sought to free themselves from bondage. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by enslavers rather than enslaved people themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Maryland Gazette (February 4, 1773).

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Maryland Gazette (February 4, 1773).

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Maryland Gazette (February 4, 1773).

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Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (February 4, 1773).

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Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (February 4, 1773).

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Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (February 4, 1773).

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Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (February 4, 1773).

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Massachusetts-Gazette Extraordinary (February 4, 1773).

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New-York Journal (February 4, 1773).

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South-Carolina Gazette (February 4, 1773).

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South-Carolina Gazette (February 4, 1773).

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South-Carolina Gazette (February 4, 1773).

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South-Carolina Gazette (February 4, 1773).

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South-Carolina Gazette (February 4, 1773).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (February 4, 1773).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (February 4, 1773).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (February 4, 1773).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (February 4, 1773).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (February 4, 1773).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (February 4, 1773).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (February 4, 1773).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (February 4, 1773).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (February 4, 1773).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (February 4, 1773).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (February 4, 1773).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (February 4, 1773).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (February 4, 1773).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (February 4, 1773).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (February 4, 1773).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (February 4, 1773).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (February 4, 1773).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (February 4, 1773).

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Virginia Gazette [Rind] (February 4, 1773).

February 3

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Pennsylvania Gazette (February 3, 1773).

“A LAWYER … lent the fourth volume of BLACKSTONE’s COMMENTARIES … to some gentleman whose name he hath forgot.”

After first appearing in the Pennsylvania Packet in January 1773, the curious story of the missing copy of “the fourth volume of BLACKSTONE’s COMMENTARIES, London edition,” ran among the advertisements in the February 2, 1773, edition of the Pennsylvania Gazette.  According to the advertisement, an unnamed lawyer lent the book “to some gentleman whose name he hath forgot” and desired for the borrower to return it, not to himself but instead to bookseller Robert Bell.  Readers may have suspected that Bell created the lawyer and the story of the missing book, especially since the advertisement concluded with a nota bene that announced that later in the month the “FOURTH VOLUME of the AMERICAN EDITION of BLACKSTONE’s COMMENTARIES ON THE LAWS OF ENGLAND, will be ready for the subscribers.”  How convenient that a borrower supposedly neglected to return just that volume to the unnamed lawyer!  How convenient that the narrator of the story thought that the missing book “hath been lent to several persons since it left the proprietor’s library” and called on “the second, third, or fourth borrower” to provide information about its whereabouts!

In the final third of the eighteenth century, Bell became one of the most prominent booksellers and publishers in the colonies and the new nation, working even before the Revolution to cultivate an American literary market.  He developed innovative marketing methods and attracted even more attention to them with his flamboyant personality.  While there is no way to definitively demonstrate that Bell fabricated the story of the lawyer and the missing volume of Blackstone’s Commentaries, such a ploy would not have been beyond the enterprising bookseller who spent two years marketing an American edition of all four volumes and gathering subscribers from throughout the colonies.  He made savvy use of the public prints, so it may have been possible that he initially published the story of the lawyer and the missing book in the Pennsylvania Packet to see if it generated additional interest in the complete collection of Blackstone’s Commentaries and later considered it worth the investment to disseminate the same story in another newspaper.  He updated the nota bene to indicate that publication would take place “some time this month” rather than “Sometime in February.”  The advertisement also included a date, February 2, 1773, the day before publication of that issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette.  Bell waited more than a week after inserting the notice in the Pennsylvania Packet before submitting it to another newspaper, further suggesting that the responses he received from the initial insertion may have aided him in deciding to run the same advertisement in an additional newspaper.  Even if he planned from the start to expand the circulation of the story of the lawyer and the missing volume of Blackstone’s Commentaries, he carefully timed his advertisements to coincide with publication of the final volume.

Slavery Advertisements Published February 3, 1773

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements about enslaved people – for sale as individuals or in groups, wanted to purchase or for hire for short periods, runaways who liberated themselves, and those who were subsequently captured and confined in jails and workhouses – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonizers encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonizers who did not purport to own enslaved people were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing enslaved men, women, and children or assisting in the capture of so-called “runaways” who sought to free themselves from bondage. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by enslavers rather than enslaved people themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Pennsylvania Gazette (February 3, 1773).

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Pennsylvania Gazette (February 3, 1773).

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Pennsylvania Journal (February 3, 1773).

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Pennsylvania Journal (February 3, 1773).

February 2

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Essex Gazette (February 2, 1773).

“An ORATION on the Beauties of LIBERTY.”

For the third consecutive week, an advertisement for “An ORATION on the Beauties of LIBERTY, from Mic. vii. 3. Delivered at the Second Baptist Church in Boston, on the last Thanksgiving Day” ran in the February 2, 1773, edition of the Essex Gazette.  That notice also informed readers that the printers of the newspaper, Samuel Hall and Ebenezer Hall, also sold “Fleeming’s REGISTER for New-England and Nova-Scotia, with an Almanack for 1773.”  Some of the contents of the almanac became obsolete with each passing day, but the principles expressed in the Oration endured long after John Allen, known as a “British Bostonian,” gave the address in December 1772.

John M. Bumsted and Charles E. Clark described the Oration as “one of the best-selling pamphlets of the pre-Revolutionary crisis, passing through seven editions in four cities between 1773 and 1775.”[1]  In addition to printers producing the pamphlet in Boston, Hartford and New London in Connecticut, and Wilmington in Delaware, printers and booksellers advertised the Oration in other cities and towns.  The Halls encouraged the popularity and dissemination of the pamphlet by advertising it in Salem as soon David Kneeland and Nathaniel Davis, the printers, took it to press and made it available for purchase.  On January 14, Kneeland and Davis placed notices in the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter and the Massachusetts Spy to announce that the pamphlet was “Now in the press, and will be published in a few days.”  Just five days later, the Halls advertised that they sold the pamphlet.

The Halls almost certainly stocked and sold other books that they did not advertise in their newspaper.  They chose to devote space to promoting two items they considered timely, an almanac for 1773 and a pamphlet that critiqued the appointment of Commissioners of Inquiry concerning the Gaspee incident.  Advertisements in multiple newspapers published in multiple cities and distributed to even more cities and towns likely helped Allen’s Oration become such a popular pamphlet during the era of the American Revolution.

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[1] John M. Bumsted and Charles E. Clark, “New England’s Tom Paine: John Allen and the Spirit of Liberty,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 21, no. 4 (October 1964): 561.