Slavery Advertisements Published November 14, 1769

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 for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – 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 colonists 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. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. 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 slaveholders rather than the slaves 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.

Nov 14 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 1
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 14, 1769).

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Nov 14 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 2
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 14, 1769).

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Nov 14 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 3
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 14, 1769).

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Nov 14 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 4
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 14, 1769).

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Nov 14 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 5
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 14, 1769).

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Nov 14 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 6
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 14, 1769).

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Nov 14 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 7
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 14, 1769).

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Nov 14 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 8
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 14, 1769).

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Nov 14 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 9
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 14, 1769).

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Nov 14 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 10
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 14, 1769).

 

November 13

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

Nov 13 - 11:13:1769 Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy
Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy (November 13, 1769).

“My Character of an honest and industrious Woman can be asserted to all who may inquire.”

Runaway wife advertisements were a particular genre of paid notices that frequently appeared in eighteenth-century newspapers. In such an advertisement an aggrieved husband reported that his disobedient wife departed from the household without his permission. The husband warned others that he would not pay any debts contracted in his name by his wife. Some advertisements went into greater detail than others in recording the various offenses committed by runaway wives. No matter how elaborate, publishing such advertisements must have been just as embarrassing, if not more so, for husbands than wives. After all, it was a public confession that a husband had not been able to exercise patriarchal authority or maintain order in his own household. Instead, he turned to the community for assistance in disciplining his wife.

In the fall of 1769, John Kennedy repeatedly inserted a runaway wife advertisement in Green and Russell’s Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy. Dated “Bridgewater, Sept. 29, 1769,” it stated, “WHEREAS Margaret Kennedy, the Wife of me the Subscriber, has left my Bed and Board, and refuses to live with me:— This is to forwarn all Persons from trusting the said Margaret on my Account, for I hereby declare I will not pay one Farthing of her contracting from the Day of the Date hereof.”

Rarely did such notices generate a response, but occasionally wives did publish their own advertisements to address the accusations made by their husbands and defend their reputations. Margaret Kennedy did so in the November 13 edition of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy. In an advertisement dated “Bridgewater, Nov. 10, 1769,” she expressed her dismay that she had been identified in “Green and Russell’s Weekly Paper as an Eloper from the Bed and Board of my Husband.” She did not acknowledge that her husband had placed the advertisement, but instead asserted that “an ill-minded Person” published an account that was “an absolute Falshood.” She also declared that she had never incurred any debt on his behalf, not “one Shilling Lawful Money.” Having been maligned in a newspaper that circulated well beyond Boston, she defended her reputation and references for anyone uncertain about which spouse to believe in the course of this public altercation. “[M]y Character of an honest and industrious Woman,” she declared, “can be asserted to all who may inquire it by a Number of my Friends in Boston, and the Community I belong to.”

Margaret met John’s advertisement with another act of resistance, one exceptionally visible to friends, neighbors, and strangers. His original advertisement continued to run in the November 13 edition of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy, appearing on the page following Margaret’s response. Readers now had both sides of the story in a single issue, witnessing the Kennedys’ marital discord play out in print, even if not in person.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 13, 1769

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 for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – 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 colonists 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. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. 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 slaveholders rather than the slaves 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.

Nov 13 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 1
Boston Evening-Post (November 13, 1769).

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Nov 13 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 2
Boston Evening-Post (November 13, 1769).

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Nov 13 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 3
Boston Evening-Post (November 13, 1769).

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Nov 13 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 4
Boston Evening-Post (November 13, 1769).

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Nov 13 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 1
Boston-Gazette (November 13, 1769).

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Nov 13 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 2
Boston-Gazette (November 13, 1769).

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Nov 13 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 3
Boston-Gazette (November 13, 1769).

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Nov 13 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 4
Boston-Gazette (November 13, 1769).

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Nov 13 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 1
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 13, 1769).

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Nov 13 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 2
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 13, 1769).

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Nov 13 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 3
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 13, 1769).

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Nov 13 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 4
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 13, 1769).

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Nov 13 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 5
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 13, 1769).

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Nov 13 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 6
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 13, 1769).

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Nov 13 - New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (November 13, 1769).

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Nov 13 - Newport Mercury Slavery 1
Newport Mercury (November 13, 1769).

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Nov 13 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Chronicle (November 13, 1769).

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Nov 13 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Chronicle (November 13, 1769).

November 12

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

Nov 12 - 11:9:1769 South-Carolina Gazette
South-Carolina Gazette (November 9, 1769).

Advertisements, &c. not inserted in this Sheet, will be published in a Supplement.”

Peter Timothy, printer of the South-Carolina Gazette, inserted a brief note in the November 9, 1769, edition to inform readers that “The European Intelligence, received by Captain Carter from Bristol, Charles-Town News, Advertisements, &c. not inserted in this Sheet, will be published in a Supplement, on Tuesday next.” In so doing, he simultaneously provided a preview for subscribers and assurances to advertisers that their paid notices would indeed appear in print shortly. The South-Carolina Gazette, like most other colonial newspapers, was a weekly, but Timothy pledged to distribute a supplement five days later rather than asking subscribers and advertisers to wait an entire week for the content he did not have space to squeeze into the November 9 issue.

Whether Timothy did print a supplement on November 14 remains unclear. Accessible Archives includes issues for November 9 and 16, consecutively numbered 1782 and 1783, but not a supplement issued any time during the week between them. The November 16 issue does not, however, include news from Europe received from Captain Carter that had been delayed by a week, suggesting that it could have appeared in a supplement no longer extant. Advertising filled nearly three of the four pages of the November 16 edition. The headline “New Advertisements” appeared on two pages. While this might suggest that Timothy did not print “European Intelligence, received by Captain Carter, from Bristol” and simply delayed publishing the advertisements, the several newspapers printed in Charleston in 1769 regularly overflowed with advertising. Timothy very well could have printed overdue advertisements in a supplement and still had plenty more advertisements for the standard weekly edition.

While it is quite possible that the promised supplement never materialized, Timothy’s reputation was on the line. He promised certain content to his subscribers who had other options for receiving their news from papers printed in Charleston, including the South-Carolina and American General Gazette and the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal. Whether or not Timothy issued a supplement on November 14, Robert Wells did publish the South-Carolina and American General Gazette that day, complete with two extra pages devoted exclusively to advertising. The most important European news received from Captain Carter would have spread by word of mouth by the time it appeared in any supplement distributed by Timothy, but the printer needed to be wary of disappointing advertisers, not just subscribers. After all, those advertisers also had other options. Advertisements accounted for significant revenue for colonial printers. Timothy’s notice that “Advertisements … not inserted in this Sheet, will be published in a Supplement” very well could have resonated with advertisers more than subscribers. After all, they paid for that service and each expected a return on their investment, a return that could not manifest as long as the printer delayed publication of their advertisements. Although listed third in his notice, advertisements may have been the most important content that Timothy sought to assure readers would soon appear.

November 11

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

Nov 11 - 11:11:1769 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (November 11, 1769).

“A THEFT.”

Multiple reports of theft appeared among the advertisements inserted in the November 11, 1769, edition of the Providence Gazette. Stephen Hopkins reported the theft of “one Cloak, the Cloth of a fine blue Drab” and “an old light grey cut Wig.” He offered a reward to “Whoever will discover the said Cloaths, and apprehend the Thief.” Hall and Metcalf proclaimed, “ON Monday Night last the Shop of the Subscribers was broke open, and sundry Things stolen from thence.” The stolen items included “a Quantity of drest Deers Leather, … a Pinchbeck Watch, with s Steel Chain, China Face, … [and] five Pair of Leather Breeches.” Like Hopkins, Hall and Metcalf offered a reward to “Whoever secures the Thief or Thieves, with the Articles stolen.”

Reporting on another incident, Jabez Bowen, Sr., incorporated a headline – “A THEFT” – into his advertisement, distinguishing it from the other two. Someone “broke open” his house and made off with “a Man’s blue Broadcloth Great-Coat, with Basket Buttons of the same Colour; and a Woman’s light-coloured Camblet Coat, very long.” Bowen provided a description of two suspects “who were seen lurking about the same Evening” and offered two rewards, a larger one for apprehending the thieves and recovering his stolen property and a smaller one for recovering the stolen goods but not capturing the thieves.

Relatively few advertisements for consumer goods ran in that issue of the Providence Gazette, making the advertisements about the several thefts even more conspicuous. This minor crime wave signaled that some colonists sought alternate means of participating in the consumer revolution rather than buying new merchandise from merchants and shopkeepers, bidding on new and used items at auctions and vendues, or acquiring secondhand goods at estate sales. Not all colonists had the cash or credit to make such purchases. The thieves may not have desired Hopkins’s cloak or Hall and Metcalf’s watch or Bowen’s coats for themselves. Instead, they may have fenced them, thus funneling the goods into what Serena Zabin has termed an “informal economy.” Some colonists who did not have the means to acquire the goods they desired through legitimate means turned instead to the informal economy. Some eighteenth-century newspaper advertisements testify to attempts to stimulate demand and encourage participation in consumer culture, but others, such as these advertisements about thefts, suggest that some colonists devised their own means of acquiring consumer goods that otherwise would have been beyond their means.

November 10

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

Nov 10 - 11:10:1769 New-Hampshire Gazette
New-Hampshire Gazette (November 10, 1769).

“He will also tend School in the Evenings … if reasonable Encouragement be allowed for keeping a Fire.”

In November 1769, Samuel Noldred placed an advertisement in the New-Hampshire Gazette to remind residents of Portsmouth and the surrounding area that he “Continues to keep school” at a house on Queen Street. Unlike many other schoolmasters who advertised during the era of the American Revolution, Noldred did not emphasize that he offered an extensive curriculum of reading, writing, arithmetic, and other subjects. Instead, he focused specifically on teaching “the several Branches of Navigation” to “young Gentlemen and others.” He aimed for his pupils to become “capable of conducting a Ship to any part of the known World.” Noldred emphasized practical knowledge for “young Gentlemen” who lived in a port city. To that end, he also taught “ARITHMETIC, as far as is useful in Navigation, if required.” Clearly, Noldred anticipated that many prospective students had already acquired some proficiency in arithmetic. He did not intend to teach the subject in depth, only what was necessary to master the navigation lessons.

Like other schoolmasters, he listed the hours he taught: “from Eight o’Clock in the Morning till Noon, then from Two o’Clock Afternoon till Sun set.” These were hours, however, that many “young Gentlemen and others” may not have been available for navigation lessons. Their families or employers may have relied on their labor and attention during the day. For those prospective students, Noldred proposed evening classes “from 6 o’Clock till 9,” but he also stated that he would teach during those hours only “if reasonable Encouragement be allowed for keeping a Fire.” Noldred did not specify how much he charged for tuition for day classes, but he did make clear that students who attended night school should expect to pay additional fees to cover the cost of heating and lighting the schoolroom. The convenience of evening classes came at a price. Newspaper advertisements placed by schoolmasters reveal some of the contingencies involved in providing instruction in colonial and revolutionary America.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 10, 1769

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 for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – 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 colonists 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. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. 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 slaveholders rather than the slaves 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.

Nov 10 - New-London Gazette Slavery 1
New-London Gazette (November 10, 1769).

November 9

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

Nov 9 - Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter
Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (November 9, 1769).

“The Whole of which were imported by himself before the Non-Importation Agreement took Place.”

William Greenleaf’s advertisement in the November 9, 1769, edition of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter looked much like others that promoted consumer goods. Extending half a column, it listed a vast assortment of items available at his shop, everything from “Silk & worsted Sagathies” to “Ivory, Bone, & Ebony Fans” to “Necklaces and Earings of various sorts” to Persia Carpets three yards square.” In addition to its celebration of consumer culture and encouragement for colonists to acquire more goods, Greenleaf’s advertisement also addressed the politics of the day. The shopkeeper assured the entire community that his entire inventory had been “imported by himself before the Non-Importation Agreement took Place.” In so doing, he protected his reputation and signaled to prospective customers that they could buy his wares without compromising their political principles.

When it came to advertising textiles and accessories, the bulk of Greenleaf’s merchandise, most merchants and shopkeepers emphasized how recently their goods had arrived in the colonies. “Just Imported” implied that these items represented the latest fashions from London and other English cities. In 1769, however, this popular appeal no longer possessed its usual power to entice prospective customers. New merchandise was politically problematic merchandise. The merchants and traders of Boston and other towns in Massachusetts adopted nonimportation agreements to protest the duties Parliament imposed on imported paper, glass, lead, paint, and tea. If Parliament intended to tax those items, then colonists resolved not to import an even greater array of goods from Britain. The goods that merchants and shopkeepers stocked and sold possessed political significance based on when those items arrived in the colonies.

In the late 1760s and early 1770s, colonists observed the commercial practices of their friends, neighbors, and other members of their communities. Greenleaf realized that all merchants and shopkeepers were under scrutiny to detect if they violated the nonimportation agreement. Committees investigated suspected violations and published names and accounts of their actions in newspapers, alerting consumers not to do business with them and warning others to abide by the agreement. In such an environment, Greenleaf considered it imperative to assert that he sold merchandise that did not breach the nonimportation agreement. In his business practices, he expressed a commitment to the patriot cause.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 9, 1769

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 for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – 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 colonists 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. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. 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 slaveholders rather than the slaves 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.

Nov 9 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Gazette (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Gazette (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 3
Pennsylvania Gazette (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 5
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 6
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 7
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 8
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 9
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 10
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 11
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 12
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 13
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 14
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 15
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 16
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 17
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 18
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 19
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 5
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 6
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 7
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 8
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 9
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 10
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 9, 1769).

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Nov 9 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 11
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 9, 1769).

November 8

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

Nov 8 - 11:8:1769 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (November 8, 1769).

“A Large and Compleat ASSORTMENT of EAST-INDIA and EUROPEAN GOODS.”

James Johnston, the printer of the Georgia Gazette, had too much content to include all of the news and advertisements in his newspaper on November 8, 1769.   As a result, he issued a small supplement to accompany the standard issue, though it took a different form than most supplements distributed by printers in eighteenth-century America.

For context, first consider the format of a standard issue of the Georgia Gazette and most other newspapers of the period. They usually consisted of only four pages created by printing two pages on each side of a broadsheet and folding it in half. The Georgia Gazette featured two columns per page; most newspapers published in the 1760s had three columns, but a select few had four columns. When printers had excess content, they either inserted a note that certain items would appear in the following issue or they distributed some sort of supplement. Supplements usually consisted of two pages of the same size as the standard issue; in terms of production and appearance, they amounted to half of a standard issue. Given the expense and scarcity of paper, very rarely did printers distribute supplements that had content on only one side but left the other side blank. Those additional pages usually had some sort of title, most often Supplement, but on occasion Postscript or Extraordinary. The last two applied most often to additional pages that featured news (rather than advertising) that arrived in the printing office too late for inclusion in the standard issue.

The supplement that accompanied the November 8, 1769, edition of the Georgia Gazette deviated greatly from most other supplements. It consisted of seven advertisements printed on only one side of a smaller sheet than the standard issue. (The size of the sheets cannot be determined from consulting digital surrogates in databases of eighteenth-century newspapers, but experienced researchers easily recognize when the relative sizes of newspaper pages differ based on several features.) The compositor arranged those seven advertisements in an unusual manner. Three ran in a vertical column; rotated ninety degrees to the left, the other four ran in two horizontal columns. All seven appeared in the previous issue of the Georgia Gazette. The compositor adopted this unusual format for the supplement in order to use type that had already been set while maximizing the amount of content that would appear on a smaller sheet. In another variation from the norm, the supplement did not include a masthead or title that associated it with the Georgia Gazette. Only a notation in the lower right corner, “[No. 318.],” identified it as a companion to the November 8 edition, labeled “No. 318” in the masthead on the first page of the standard issue.

In recent months, Johnston had sometimes resorted to postponing publication of paid notices and other times issued miniature supplements. Advertising represented an important source of revenue for colonial printers, which likely prompted Johnston to invest the time and resources required to produce those supplements and disseminate notices submitted to his printing office. He needed to do this while still covering the news for his subscribers, striking a balance between the two kinds of content.