August 15

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

Providence Gazette (August 15, 1772).

“Such as are indebted to the Printer for advertising … are requested to discharge their Accounts.”

In the colophon that appeared at the bottom of the final page of each issue of the Providence Gazette, John Carter offered a variety of services, asserting that “all Manner of Printing-Work is performed with Care and Expedition” in his printing office and “Hand-Bills in particular done in a neat and correct Manner, at a very short Notice, and on reasonable Terms.”  Even as he attempted to generate new business, he inserted notices calling on customers to pay their bills.  Throughout the colonies, newspaper printers regularly placed such notices after extending credit to subscribers and other customers.  Some subscribers fell years behind on settling accounts, but they were not alone in failing to make payment to printers.

In a notice in the August 15, 1772, edition of the Providence Gazette, Carter declared that “THE Subscribers to this Gazette, who are one or more Years in Arrear, likewise such as are indebted to the Printer for advertising, or in any other Manner (particularly those who have been repeatedly called on) are requested to discharge their Accounts, that he may be enabled to pay his own Debts.”  This notice merits particular attention because Carter included advertising among the unpaid bills.  Similar notices usually addressed subscribers as well as customers who engaged other services, but they did not identify advertising as one of those services.  That suggests that printers did not allow credit for advertising, choosing instead to build their subscription lists via extensive credit while generating significant revenue from advertisers who paid in advance.  That was indeed the practice adopted by some colonial printers.  It was even Carter’s policy at one point.  In February 1771, the colophon for the Providence Gazette advised readers that “ADVERTISEMENTS of a moderate Length (accompanied with the Pay) are inserted in this Paper three Weeks for Four Shillings.”  That line subsequently disappeared from the colophon and Carter apparently accepted advertisements without “the Pay.”  Other printers experienced similar difficulties with overdue payments for advertising, including the printers of the Connecticut Courant, the Connecticut Journal, and the New-Hampshire Gazette.  Even if most printers did demand payment for advertisements before running them in their newspapers, that does not seem to have been a practice adopted universally in colonial America.

Slavery Advertisements Published August 15, 1772

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 Chronicle (August 15, 1772).

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Pennsylvania Chronicle (August 15, 1772).

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Pennsylvania Chronicle (August 15, 1772).

August 14

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

New-Hampshire Gazette (August 14, 1772).

My purpose to Ride weekly, and carry the News Papers from Portsmouth … to Canterbury.”

Published in Portsmouth, the New-Hampshire Gazette served the entire colony as well as portions of Massachusetts (including the region that became Maine in 1820).  Daniel Fowle established the newspaper in October 1756.  In September 1764, he began a partnership with his nephew, Robert Fowle.  They faced little competition from other printers in the colony.  Thomas Furber and Ezekiel Russell briefly published the Portsmouth Mercury between 1765 and 1767 (with the last known issue dated September 29, 1766).  No other newspaper appeared in New Hampshire until after the American Revolution.  The short-lived Exeter Chronicle lasted about six months in 1784.  At about the same time it folded, Robert Gerrish commenced publishing the New-Hampshire Mercury in Portsmouth.  Other newspapers appeared in Exeter, Keene, and Portsmouth by the end of the decade.

Prior to the American Revolution, colonizers in New-Hampshire depended on the New-Hampshire Gazette for news and advertising.  Although the Fowles printed the newspaper, others assumed some of the responsibility for disseminating it to subscribers and other readers throughout the colony.  John Erving, for instance, rode a route that served ten towns between Portsmouth and Canterbury.  In the summer of 1772, he ran an advertisement to announce his plan “to Ride weekly, and carry the News Papers from Portsmouth through Greenland, Newmarket, Epping, Nottingham, Deerfield, Alenstown, Pembrook, Concord, Boscawen, and thence to Canterbury.”  He also offered to deliver the New-Hampshire Gazette to other towns along that route.

Riders like Erving helped make publishing the newspaper a viable venture for the Fowles.  Delivery services expanded the geographic reach of the newspaper as well as the number of prospective subscribers and advertisers.  That being the case, did the Fowles offer Erving any sort of discount on his advertisement or publish it free of charge?  They did not give it a privileged place in their newspaper.  In the August 14, 1772, edition, it appeared near the bottom of the last column on the third page.  In the same issue, the Fowles placed their own notice calling on “ALL Persons Indebted to the Printers of this Paper … to settle the same immediately” or face legal action at the top of the first column on the front page, making it the first item readers encountered under the masthead.  They could have chosen to place Erving’s advertisement immediately below their own notice on the front page or placed it at the beginning of the advertisements or at the top of a column on another page.  They could have incorporated larger font, as they did in advertisements that had “George Deblois,” “Forge Masters,” and “Mr. MORGAN” in significantly larger letters.  The placement and the format of Erving’s advertisement did little to distinguish it from other content in the New-Hampshire Gazette.  Even if the Fowles did extend some sort of discount to Erving, they did not otherwise aid him in marketing the delivery of the newspaper they published.

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The publication history of New Hampshire’s eighteenth-century newspapers comes from entries in Clarence S. Brigham’s History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820 and Edward Connery Lathem’s Chronological Tables of American Newspapers, 1690-1820.

August 13

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

New-York Journal (August 13, 1772).

“J. BAILEY, Cutler. from Sheffield.”

Several cutlers in New York competed for customers by inserting advertisements with elaborate woodcuts depicting an array of items available at their shops in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury in the summer of 1772.  James Youle, “CUTLER FROM SHEFFIELD,” adapted an image that he and former partner J. Bailey previously ran in that newspaper a year earlier.  Lucas and Shephard, “WHITESMITHS and CUTLERS, From BIRMINGHAM and SHEFFIELD,” ran their own advertisement adorned with an image of many items included among their merchandise.

Bailey apparently determined that his competitors had an advantage, so he commissioned his own woodcut that featured both text, “J. BAILEY, Cutler. from Sheffield,” and an image that included two swords among a variety of cutlery.  The advertisement stated that Bailey was located “At the Sign of the CROSS SWORDS,” indicating that he sought to increase the effectiveness of the image beyond the efforts of his competitors with their woodcuts by closely associating it with the sign that marked his shop in addition to the goods he made and sold.  He also enhanced his advertisement by incorporating another image, that one depicting shears, below a note that he “has now for sale fullers shears.”

Those did not constitute Bailey’s only innovations relative to the advertising campaigns of his competitors.  Those advertisements all ran in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury.  On August 13, Bailey expanded the number of colonizers who saw his advertisement by inserting it in the New-York Journal.  That advertisement featured the same two woodcuts and the same copy that appeared in the other newspaper, giving Bailey an advantage over his former partner and other competitors who invested in woodcuts for their advertisements.  Some or all of these cutlers may have also advertised in another newspaper, the New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy.  Unfortunately, issues of that newspaper from 1771 through 1773 have not been digitized, so I have not been able to consult them as readily as the other two newspapers published in New York City in 1772.  Whether or not any of these cutlers advertised in the New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy, Bailey was the first to seek customers among the readers of the New-York Journal.  That meant arranging to have his woodcuts transferred from one printing office to another.  The available evidence suggests that Bailey put even more thought into his advertising campaign than his competitors who already made efforts to distinguish their notices from others in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury.

Slavery Advertisements Published August 13, 1772

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 (August 13, 1772).

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Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (August 13, 1772).

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Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (August 13, 1772).

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Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (August 13, 1772).

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New-York Journal (August 13, 1772).

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New-York Journal (August 13, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette (August 13, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette (August 13, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette (August 13, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette (August 13, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette (August 13, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette (August 13, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette (August 13, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette (August 13, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (August 13, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (August 13, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (August 13, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (August 13, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (August 13, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (August 13, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (August 13, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (August 13, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (August 13, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (August 13, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (August 13, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (August 13, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (August 13, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (August 13, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (August 13, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (August 13, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (August 13, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (August 13, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (August 13, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (August 13, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (August 13, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (August 13, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (August 13, 1772).

August 12

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

Pennsylvania Gazette (August 12, 1772).

“He proposes to affix his Name on the Heads of all his Bolts, rolling Screens, and Fans.”

In the summer of 1772, John Sellers of Darby placed advertisements promoting “VARIOUS Kinds of Wire Work” in the Pennsylvania Gazette.  He made and sold “rolling Screens for cleaning Wheat,” “rolling Screens for cleaning Flaxseed from the yellow or wild Seed,” “small Bolts for separating the Cockle from the Flaxseed,” and “common Dutch Fans” for separating wheat from chaff.

Sellers presented a variety of reasons that readers in need of any of those devices should purchase them from him.  He promised that customers who “favour him with their Orders, may depend on their Work being done with Care,” reiterating a description of his products as “made in the neatest and best Manner.”  He also offered a guarantee, stating that “the Work [is] Warranted.  Furthermore, Sellers drew on long experience as an artisan who met the expectations of his clients.  He was “not pretending to perform that which he has not, in a great Number of Instance, given the utmost Satisfaction.”  Over time, he made “upwards of 50 rolling Screens for Wheat, and upwards of 70 for Flaxseed,” establishing his reputation.

Sellers did not expect prospective customers to visit his workshop in Darby, six miles away from Philadelphia, to examine his products or purchase them.  Instead, “for the Conveniency of his Customers,” he arranged to have them on display “in Plumsted’s Stores, in Philadelphia.”  Sellers instructed to customers to ask for John Brown to handle sales.  For those who wished to confer with the artisan directly, he advised that he “attends generally twice a Week, in Philadelphia.”  Anyone interested in contacting him directly could do so by “leaving a Line at the Conestogoe Waggon, in Market-street, or sending by the Post.”

To attract notice to the various appeals he deployed in the copy of his advertisement, Sellers adorned it with a woodcut depicting one of the rolling screens he constructed.  He commissioned that image at least five years earlier, having included it in an advertisement that ran in the Pennsylvania Gazette in September 1767.  Just as sellers aimed to make his newspaper notice distinctive, he also marked the items he made in his workshop.  He informed his customers that he “affix[ed] his Name on the Heads of all his Bolts, rolling Screens, and Fans.”  That demonstrated pride in his craft while also marketing his products every time someone encountered his name on this equipment after it left his workshop. Sellers did not limit his marketing strategy to describing his products.  Instead, he used distinctive marks to draw attention, both an image in his newspaper advertisement and his name branding his bolts, screens, and fans.

Slavery Advertisements Published August 12, 1772

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 (August 12, 1772).

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Pennsylvania Gazette (August 12, 1772).

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Pennsylvania Gazette (August 12, 1772).

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Pennsylvania Gazette (August 12, 1772).

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Pennsylvania Journal (August 12, 1772).

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Pennsylvania Journal (August 12, 1772).

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Pennsylvania Journal (August 12, 1772).

August 11

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

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 11, 1772).

“White and coloured NEGRO CLOTH.”

The partnership of Ancrums and Chiffelle took to the pages of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal to advise “their Friends” that they stocked “White and coloured NEGRO CLOTH, Together with a Variety of other GOODS, fromLONDON and BRISTOL” in the summer of 1772.  They placed an advertisement in the August 11 edition, as did Atkins and Weston.  They informed readers that they imported “NEGRO CLOTH, DUFFIL, BLANKETS, and SAIL CLOTH” from Bristol.  Atkins and Weston assured “their Friends and Customers” that they set low prices.  Elsewhere in the same issue, Thomas Eveleigh advertised “A FEW BALES of NEGRO CLOTH, and some good LONDON PORTER, just imported, and to be sold reasonably.”

Those advertisements accompanied seven others that offered enslaved men, women, and children for sale, one seeking “TWO or Three NEGRO BOYS, as Apprentices to the Wheel-Wright’s Business,” five announcing rewards for the capture and return of enslaved people who liberated themselves by running away from their enslavers, and a lengthy notice describing eighteen Black men and women “Brought to the WORK-HOUSE” and imprisoned there on suspicion of attempting to liberate themselves.  The printer did not arrange advertisements according to purpose or category, so readers encountered notices about enslaved people interspersed with advertisements promoting consumer goods and services, real estate notices, legal notices, and other kinds of advertisements.

Ancrums and Chiffelle and their competitors who hawked “NEGRO CLOTH” may or may not have participated in the slave trade directly, yet they certainly aimed to profit from maintaining that institution.  In their advertisements, those merchants made supplying enslavers with an inexpensive textile to clothe the men, women, and children held in bondage central to their operations at the stores and warehouses they operated in Charleston.  Furthermore, they demonstrated that commerce enmeshed in the transatlantic slave trade extended beyond any sort of streamlined triangular trade that connected Africa, England, and colonies on the other side of the Atlantic.  Even as ships departing from London, Bristol, and other English ports carried goods to Africa to purchase captives held in outposts along the coast, other ships from those ports delivered finished goods, including “NEGRO CLOTH,” directly to South Carolina and other colonies.  Many merchants, including Ancrums and Chiffelle, sought opportunities to profit from selling supplies to enslavers, embracing the transatlantic slave trade in their business models even if they did not transport or sell Black men, women, and children themselves.

Slavery Advertisements Published August 11, 1772

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.

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 11, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 11, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 11, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 11, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 11, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 11, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 11, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 11, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 11, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 11, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 11, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 11, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 11, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 11, 1772).

August 10

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

South-Carolina Gazette Extraordinary (August 10, 1772).

“ADVERTISEMENTS of some Consequence to the Parties, are brought in so late, that the immediate Insertion of them in the GAZETTE, would delay the Publication thereof.”

Thomas Powell and Company aimed to provide the best possible service for advertisers who chose the South-Carolina Gazette, such as disseminating their notices to the public as quickly as possible.  That included publishing supplements when necessary.  With a few exceptions, most American newspapers published before the Revolution consisted of a single weekly issue.  Powell, Hughes, and Company circulated a new edition of the South-Carolina Gazette on Thursdays in 1772.  Less than two weeks after the death of Edward Hughes, Powell and Company distributed a South-Carolina Gazette Extraordinary on Monday, August 10.

A notice at the top of the first column on the first page explained the purpose of the supplement.  “[I]t frequently happens,” Powell and Company declared, “that ADVERTISEMENTS of some Consequence to the Parties, are brought in so late, that the immediate Insertion of them in the GAZETTE would delay the Publication thereof beyond the stated Day.”  In addition, “others are omitted to make Room for fresh Intelligence” or news just arrived in the printing office. Powell and Company recognized that they had a duty to both subscribers and advertisers, prompting them to “NOW assure the Public, that in EITHER of the above Cases … they will issue a GAZETTE EXTRAORDINARY, as soon after their stated Day as possible.”  Publishing supplements minimized delays for both news and paid notices, allowing Powell and Company to fulfill “their Duty, to contribute … to the ENTERTAINMENT, as well as EMOLUMENT, of that Public which so generously supports them.”

The four-page supplement contained both advertising and news, divided nearly evenly between the two.  The advertisements included five that offered rewards for the capture and return of enslaved men and women who liberated themselves as well as several others promoting consumer goods and services.  Powell and Company inserted a heading for “New Advertisements” on all three pages that carried paid notices, though not all advertisements in the supplement appeared for the first time.  Despite these efforts, Powell and Company suggested that more advertising and news flooded into their printing office than would fit in the supplement.  That may have been a strategy to underscore the viability of the newspaper following the death of one of the partners.  A brief notice at the bottom of final column on the third page, the last item the compositor would have locked into place for the entire supplement, advised that “Several NEW ADVERTISEMENTS, &c. now omitted, shall be inserted in Thursday’s Gazette.”  According to their notice on the first page, Powell and Company hoped “to merit a CONTINUANCE” of the support they already received.  Hughes no longer participated in publishing the newspaper, yet, the notice suggested, subscribers, advertisers, and the general public could depend on the South-Carolina Gazette being in good hands with Powell.