August 21

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

Aug 21 - 8:15:1768 Newport Mercury
Newport Mercury (August 15, 1768).

“A likely new Negro Boy … just got clear of the Small-Pox.”

When he wished to sell an enslaved youth in the summer of 1768, James Roach turned to the pages of the Newport Gazette. He placed a brief advertisement that announced: “To be SOLD A likely new Negro Boy, about 13 Years of Age, fit to be put to a Trade, or any other Employment, just got clear of the Small-Pox.” Roach squeezed a significant amount of information into this short advertisement. In addition to identifying the approximate age of the unnamed youth he also revealed that the “new Negro Boy” did not yet possess any particular skills or training that might make him suitable for purchase by a particular master. Instead, he was “fit to be put to a Trade, or any other Employment.” With some instruction, a prospective buyer could put the enslaved youth to work on a farm, in a household, or in a workshop. Roach also made a nod towards the slave’s origins. That he was a “new Negro Boy” meant that he was an African who had survived the Middle Passage and transshipment within the colonies rather than an African American born in the colonies.

Furthermore, the reference to surviving smallpox was not inconsequential. It was a standard element in advertisements for enslaved men, women, and children, operating as a guarantee of sorts when it came to the health of those offered for sale. Smallpox, one of the most deadly diseases of the eighteenth century, could only be contracted once. It did not discriminate; having survived smallpox then made people – whether enslaved or free – immune. In advising prospective buyers that the youth offered for sale “just got clear of the Small-Pox,” Roach assured them that this particular slave was a safe investment. Choosing to purchase the unnamed youth did not involve the risk that he might soon afterward become ill with smallpox and perhaps not survive. This small bit of medical knowledge served an important purpose, providing a safeguard on the buyer’s investment.

August 20

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

Aug 20 - 8:20:1768 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (August 20, 1768).

“JUST PUBLISHED … THE Power and Grandeur of GREAT-BRITAIN founded nt he Liberty of the COLONIES.”

Colonial newspapers usually carried very little local news. As they were distributed only once a week, often news of local events carried by word of mouth before they had a chance to appear in print. Accordingly, editors privileged news from faraway places, news that readers had not seen for themselves or already heard about in the course of their daily activities.

Such was the case in the August 20, 1768, edition of the Providence Gazette. Even the scant amount of news published under the header “PROVIDENCE, August 20” relayed a description of events that recently occurred in Boston. “Sunday last being the 14th of August,” the short article began, “the Sons of Liberty at Boston, in order to perpetuate the Anniversary of the first Opposition to the Stamp-Act. Met under Liberty-Tree, when many patriotic and loyal To[a]sts were drank, under the Discharge of 45 Cannon.” The article included details about a procession through town, a bonfire, and fireworks, all in commemoration of resistance to the Stamp Act.

The news from “BOSTON, August 15” summarized a new nonimportation agreement devised by the merchants and traders of Boston. They were concerned about an imbalance of trade that made it difficult to “pay the debts due the merchants in Great-Britain,” prompting them to vote unanimously “not to send any further orders for goods to be shipped this fall; and that from the first of January, 1769, to the first of January, 1770, they will not send for or import … any kind of goods or merchandizes from Great-Britain, except Coal, Salt, and some articles necessary to carry on the fishery.” This decision was not merely about economics. Politics played a role as well: “They likewise agreed not to import any Tea, Glass, Paper, or Painters colours, until the acts imposing duties on those articles are repealed.”

The news from Boston also included a copy of a letter “To the Honourable THOMAS CUSHING, Esq; Speaker of the Honourable House of Representatives of the Province of Massachusetts-Bay” from “P. MANIGAULT, Speaker of the Common House of Assembly of the Province of South-Carolina.” That letter included the instructions sent to South Carolina’s agent in Great Britain, directing him to “join with the Agents of the other provinces in America, in obtaining a repeal of the several acts of Parliament which have lately been passed, laying duties in America, and to endeavour to prevent the clause for billeting soldiers in America from being inserted in the next mutiny act which shall be passed.” These instructions touched on some of the most significant issues that eventually sparked the American Revolution.

The following page of Providence Gazette featured “A SONG” reprinted from the August 4 edition of the Pennsylvania Journal. Written by “A SON of LIBERTY,” the song was “Addressed to the SONS OF LIBERTY on the Continent of America.” Like the toasts and other festivities that recently took place in Boston, the song celebrated acts of resistance that preserved liberty and freedom in the face of Parliament attempting to impose slavery on the colonies.

Yet news and entertainment did not comprise the entire August 20 issue of the Providence Gazette. More than a dozen advertisements ran in that issue, including one for a pamphlet on sale at the printing office. The title explained its purpose: “THE Power and Grandeur of GREAT-BRITAIN founded on the Liberty of the COLONIES, and the Mischiefs attending the taxing them by Act of Parliament demonstrated.” The compositor placed this advertisement between the politically charged news items from Boston and the patriotic song from Philadelphia. It was a continuation of the news, but also an encouragement for readers to become even better informed about current events. In this instance, news, entertainment, and advertising worked together to form a cohesive narrative about Parliament overstepping its authority to commit various abuses against the colonies.

August 19

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

Aug 19 - 8:19:1768 New-Hampshire Gazette
New-Hampshire Gazette (August 19, 1768).

“The Owner will stay but a Fortnight in Town.”

Henry Appleton and Richard Champney placed advertisements in the New-Hampshire Gazette frequently. Members of their community likely knew where to find Appleton “At his shop in Portsmouth” and Champney “At his shop near Mr. John Beck’s, Hatter.” In the small port, both their faces and their shops would have been familiar. One of their competitors, however, was not nearly as familiar to the residents of Portsmouth and the surrounding area. An advertisement that appeared in the August 19, 17678, edition of the New-Hampshire Gazette listed many wares quite similar to those stocked by Appleton and Champney, but it did not specify the name of the seller.

Instead, it announced that “THE undermention’d GOODS were lately IMPORTED, and will be SOLD on very reasonable terms at Mr. STAVERS’s Tavern in PORTSMOUTH.” The unnamed advertiser stated that he “will stay but a Fortnight in Town.” From all appearances, Appleton and Champney found themselves in competition with a peddler. They likely did not appreciate his brief interlude in the local marketplace. Peddlers were disruptive. They diverted business away from the shops where customers usually acquired goods. In this case, the advertisement encouraged potential customers to head to a tavern to examine ribbons, gloves, fans, necklaces, and a variety of other “Baubles of Britain” (to borrow the evocative phrase from T.H. Breen’s examination of the consumer revolution in America in the eighteenth century). Those “incline[d] to buy … will find it to their Advantage in dealing with” the unnamed itinerant. Local shopkeepers like Appleton and Champney were probably none too pleased about this alternative means for their prospective customers to obtain many of the same trinkets they sold, especially not when the peddler implied that he offered lower prices than residents would otherwise encounter in Portsmouth.

Itinerant hawkers who traversed the roads from town to town in the late colonial period provided an alternate means of distributing many of the goods that were at the center of the consumer revolution. They complemented the shops and auctions that otherwise placed an array of merchandise in the hands and households of customers, usually to the chagrin of local entrepreneurs who did not appreciate the intrusion.

Slavery Advertisements Published August 19, 1768

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.

Aug 19 - New-Hampshire Gazette Slavery 1
New-Hampshire Gazette (August 19, 1768).

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Aug 19 - New-London Gazette Slavery 1
New-London Gazette (August 19, 1768).

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Aug 19 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 1
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (August 19, 1768).

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Aug 19 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 2
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (August 19, 1768).

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Aug 19 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 3
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (August 19, 1768).

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Aug 19 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 4
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (August 19, 1768).

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Aug 19 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 5
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (August 19, 1768).

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Aug 19 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 6
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (August 19, 1768).

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Aug 19 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 7
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (August 19, 1768).

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Aug 19 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 8
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (August 19, 1768).

August 18

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

Aug 18 - 8:18:1768 Pennsylvania Gazette
Pennsylvania Gazette (August 18, 1768).

“Carpenters, joiners, sadlers and others, may expect they will be sold on the lowest terms.”

In the late 1760s James Eddy operated a hardware store on Second Street in Philadelphia. His lengthy advertisements in the Pennsylvania Gazette promised a “large and neat assortment of IRONMONGERY.” To demonstrate that was the case, he listed dozens of items available at his shop, everything from nails to “dovetail and key-hole saws” to “files of various sorts and sizes” to “brass H hinges for book cases” to “sundry kinds of brass and iron wire.”

Although everyday consumers would have purchased many of his wares, Eddy understood that artisans comprised a customer base particularly important to his business. As a result, he catered to them by drawing attention to specific tools, including “taylors and womens shears,” “A large assortment of chapes for silver smiths,” “carpenters hammers,” “A large and very neat assortment of clock and watchmakers tools,” and “sundry other tools, suitable for carpenters, ship carpenters, joiners, &c.” Eddy supplied artisans with the tools they needed to practice their trades. That endeavor likely accounted for a substantial portion of his business.

Even if it did not, Eddy’s advertisement suggests that he envisioned a special relationship with artisans as a means of generating revenues. He appended a nota bene that made general appeals about price and quality for all potential customers but then targeted artisans for their prospective patronage. “Carpenters, joiners, sadlers and others,” Eddy proclaimed, “may expect they will be sold on the lowest terms.”

In the eighteenth century advertisers only occasionally addressed their notices to members of particular occupations. Eddy apparently sensed an opportunity to establish a sense of community with artisans who did not merely desire his wares but actually needed them to pursue their own livelihoods. He cultivated that relationship by stocking a wide assortment of tools and underscoring that those who used them could depend on outfitting their own workshops with quality tools sold at low prices. His particular concern for the artisans of Philadelphia may have won him some customers who appreciated that he was sensitive to the costs of the tools they needed to operate their own businesses, a part of his business model that distinguished him from many other shopkeepers in the city.

Slavery Advertisements Published August 18, 1768

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.

Aug 18 - Boston Weekly News-Letter Slavery 1
Boston Weekly News-Letter (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Boston Weekly News-Letter Slavery 2
Boston Weekly News-Letter (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Massachusetts Gazette Draper Slavery 1
Massachusetts Gazette [Draper] (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - New-York Journal Slavery 1
New-York Journal (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 1
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 5
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 6
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 7
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 8
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 9
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 10
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 5
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 6
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 7
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 8
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 9
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (August 18, 1768).

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Aug 18 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 10
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (August 18, 1768).

August 17

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

Aug 17 - 8:17:1768 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (August 17, 1768).

“LEWIS JOHNSON Has just imported … AN ASSORTMENT of MEDICINES.”

When readers of the Georgia Gazette perused the August 17, 1768, edition they encountered an advertisement for “AN ASSORTMENT of MEDICINES, and sundry other Articles” that may have looked familiar. Lewis Johnson had placed his notice listing an extensive array of goods as soon as they arrived in his shop. The shipping news in the June 29 issue indicated that the “Ship Charming Sally, Peter Rainier” from London had “ENTERED INWARDS at the CUSTOM-HOUSE” on June 28. Johnson’s advertisement listing merchandise “just imported for Sale from LONDON, By the CHARMING SALLY, Capt. RAINIER” appeared in the Georgia Gazette the following day. It ran for three consecutive weeks, a standard length of time according to the fee structure for advertising in many colonial newspapers.

Johnson’s advertisement then disappeared from the next four issues before returning in the August 17 issue. Why did Johnson suddenly decide to insert his advertisement again? Just as its initial run coincided with the shipping news that confirmed the Charming Sally had just arrived with a cargo of goods imported from London, its return to the pages of the Georgia Gazette occurred when the shipping news reported the vessel’s departure. Among the other entries from the Customs House, the “Ship Charming Sally, Peter Rainier” had “CLEARED” and sailed for Martinique. For the past three weeks, the Charming Sally had been listed with those that had “ENTERED OUTWARDS” in preparation of leaving Savannah. Either from the shipping news or his interactions with the captain, Johnson would have known when the ship that transported his goods was leaving. The August 17 issue would be the last issue that carried information about the Charming Nancy provided by the Customs House. It was also Johnson’s last chance to underscore that he had indeed “just imported” his wares on a ship that had recently arrived in port.

His advertisement did not appear the following week, nor did the shipping news mention the Charming Nancy. Johnson had seized the opportunity when it presented itself, but withdrawn his advertisement when the news items printed elsewhere in newspaper made one of the appeals in his advertisement look outdated.