September 24

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

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Georgia Gazette (September 24, 1766).

“May be had at the Printing-Office … A SERMON.”

James Johnston, the printer of the Georgia Gazette, advertised the second edition of “A SERMON Preached in the Meeting at Savannah in Georgia, June 25th, 1766.” Although he did not specify the topic of this sermon, the four lines from Galatians that concluded the advertisement suggested that it addressed the uneasy relationship between the colonies and Great Britain that had been occasioned by Parliament’s attempts to regulate commerce within the empire, especially within its North American colonies. “Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty,” the biblical verses began, but concluded with a warning to “take heed that ye not be consumed one of another.” Johnston apparently presumed that potential customers/readers were so familiar recent political events, in general, and this sermon, in particular, that he did not need to state explicitly that it addressed the Stamp Act.

Johnston was certainly advertising John Joachim Zubly’s “The Stamp Act Repealed: A Sermon.” The title page of the second edition of that thirty-page duodecimo pamphlet included the same verses and other information that also appeared in the advertisement, including the assertion that it had been “First published at the Request and Expence of the Hearers.” The second edition was simultaneously published in Charleston by Peter Timothy and in Philadelphia by Heinrich Miller.

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John Joachim Zubly, The Stamp-Act Repealed:  A Sermon (Savannah, GA:  James Johnston, 1766).  American Antiquarian Society.

In an introduction to the “Sermon,” Randall M. Miller notes that Zubly “captured the feelings of other prominent Georgians in 1766 who had recoiled from the strong words and threats of the Stamp Act crisis but also who had resented Parliament’s encroachment on American rights.” The sermon “stressed obedience to law and the reciprocal obligations of both Christian rulers and subjects to honor law and order.”[1]

By the time the second edition was published, colonists had known for several months that the Stamp Act had been repealed (which had led to Zubly preaching this sermon for a day of thanksgiving). One crisis had been averted, but colonists continued to grapple with their relationship to Britain, especially in the wake of the Declaratory Act. Still, few colonists were prepared at that time to sever ties with Britain. Johnston marketed a sermon that might assist readers in maintaining their identity as Britons while acknowledging that they had been slighted by Parliament. “We seemed like people that had been apprehensive of being shipwrecked and happily made a harbour,” Zubly proclaimed.[2] In publishing, marketing, and selling a second edition of the sermon, Johnston and his counterparts in Charleston and Philadelphia amplified that message to greater numbers of colonists.

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[1] Randall M. Miller, “A Warm & Zealous Spirit”: John J. Zubly and the American Revolution, A Selection of His Writings (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1982), 31.

[2] John Joachim Zubly, The Stamp-Act Repealed: A Sermon (Savannah, GA: James Jonhnson, 1766), 28.

Summary of Slavery Advertisements Published September 18-24, 1766

These tables indicate how many advertisements for slaves appeared in colonial American newspapers during the week of September 18-24, 1766.

Note:  These tables are as comprehensive as currently digitized sources permit, but they may not be an exhaustive account.  They includes all newspapers that have been digitized and made available via Accessible Archives, Colonial Williamsburg’s Digital Library, and Readex’s America’s Historical Newspapers.  There are several reasons some newspapers may not have been consulted:

  • Issues that are no longer extant;
  • Issues that are extant but have not yet been digitized; and
  • Newspapers published in a language other than English (including the Wochentliche Philadelphische Staatsbote).

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Slavery Advertisements Published September 18-24, 1766:  By Date

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Slavery Advertisements Published September 18-24, 1766:  By Region

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Slavery Advertisements Published September 24, 1766

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.  Daily updates also available on Twitter:  @SlaveAdverts250.

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Georgia Gazette (September 24, 1766).

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Georgia Gazette (September 24, 1766).

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Georgia Gazette (September 24, 1766).

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Georgia Gazette (September 24, 1766).

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Georgia Gazette (September 24, 1766).

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Georgia Gazette (September 24, 1766).

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Georgia Gazette (September 24, 1766).

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Georgia Gazette (September 24, 1766).

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Georgia Gazette (September 24, 1766).

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Georgia Gazette (September 24, 1766).

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Georgia Gazette (September 24, 1766).

September 23

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

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 23, 1766).

“Small Beer, Cyder and Perry.”

Today’s advertisement features a product that was common in the eighteenth century but has declined in popularity in the years since (though it seems to be enjoying a bit of a resurgence recently). The context made it apparent that “Perry” was a beverage, presumably containing alcohol, that some colonists might prefer instead of (or in addition to!) “small Beer and Cyder.” Beer and cider continue to be marketed to the masses and consumed widely in America. But what was this perry promoted in today’s advertisement?

I learned that perry is indeed an alcoholic beverage, made (as the name suggests) from pears, using a process similar to making cider from apples. Perry making became common in western England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but the beverage hit the high point of its popularity in the eighteenth century. Consumption of perry had spread to other parts of England following the English Civil War as the result of soldiers billeted in the Three Counties (Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and Worcestershire) developing a taste for it. They may not have missed the fighting, but after being exposed to new food and drink during the conflict they incorporated that portion of their wartime experiences into their everyday lives. Perry also became more popular in England during the eighteenth century due to ongoing conflicts with France disrupting merchants’ ability to import wine from across the English Channel. Perry became a substitute. It comes as little surprise, then, that English colonists in Charleston and its hinterland imported and consumed perry along with small beer and cider.

In anticipation of writing today’s entry, I visited nearby Nashoba Valley Winery and Bolton Beer Works last Sunday to sample some perry, all in the name of research. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the drink was more subtle than I anticipated, the taste of pears apparent but not overwhelming. In the absence of reliable sources of potable water, I can understand why colonists saw perry as a welcome addition to the small beer and cider they consumed.

Slavery Advertisements Published September 23, 1766

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.  Daily updates also available on Twitter:  @SlaveAdverts250.

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 23, 1766).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 23, 1766).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 23, 1766).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 23, 1766).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 23, 1766).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 23, 1766).

September 22

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

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New-York Mercury (September 22, 1766).

“Mr. KNAPP, with strict Candour, agreeable to the Constitution, and Fundamentals of Law and Equity, will give his Opinion and Advice on any Case.”

Lengthy expositions and sensational narratives by John Coghill Knapp were a fixture among the advertisements that appeared in the New-York Mercury in 1766, giving the impression that the “Attorney at Law” loved to talk in real life and would spare no effort in pursuing the interests of his clients. The preponderance of prose in his advertisements may have been a selling point, demonstrating to potential clients that he left no stone unturned and no contingency unanticipated.

While it may not be completely fair to compare Knapp’s legal philosophy to modern ambulance chasers known for their obnoxiously loud television commercials and flashy billboards, the two both adopted modes of advertising intended to attract as much attention as possible. Force of personality played a part in Knapp’s advertising, but he also resorted to gimmicks to tempt potential customers to avail themselves of his services. He promised to “give his Opinion and Advice on any Case, verbally stated, for One Dollar.” This one-price-fits-all fee structure seemed designed to get as many clients as possible into his office on Rotten Row, especially those nervous about the costs of consulting other attorneys.

Knapp’s fee structure also suggested that he sought to work with common men and women, not just the elite and affluent. In addition to charging one dollar for cases “verbally stated,” he charged “similar easy Terms” for cases in writing, depending on “the Length of papers to peruse, and Number of Questions to solve.” Knapp recognized that many of his potential clients might not have extensive documents (or any at all) related to their legal concerns. He also implicitly acknowledged that some potential clients might be able to read his advertisements but not write much (or anything) about the various situations he described in his advertisement.

Knapp developed an over-the-top persona in his advertisements as he positioned himself as a lawyer who served everyday people.

Slavery Advertisements Published September 22, 1766

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.  Daily updates also available on Twitter:  @SlaveAdverts250.

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Supplement to the Boston-Gazette (September 22, 1766).

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Connecticut Courant (September 22, 1766).

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New-York Gazette (September 22, 1766).

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New-York Gazette (September 22, 1766).

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New-York Gazette (September 22, 1766).

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New-York Gazette (September 22, 1766).

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New-York Mercury (September 22, 1766).

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New-York Mercury (September 22, 1766).

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South Carolina Gazette (September 22, 1766).

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South Carolina Gazette (September 22, 1766).

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South Carolina Gazette (September 22, 1766).

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South Carolina Gazette (September 22, 1766).

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South Carolina Gazette (September 22, 1766).

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South Carolina Gazette (September 22, 1766).