Slavery Advertisements Published June 25, 1767

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

Jun 25 - Massachusetts Gazette Slavery 1
Massachusetts Gazette (June 25, 1767).

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Jun 25 - New-York Gazette Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 1
New-York Gazette: Or, the Weekly Post-Boy (June 25, 1767).

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Jun 25 - New-York Journal Slavery 1
New-York Journal (June 25, 1767).

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Jun 25 - New-York Journal Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the New-York Journal (June 25, 1767).

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Jun 25 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Gazette (June 25, 1767).

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Jun 25 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Gazette (June 25, 1767).

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Jun 25 - Pennsylvania Gazette Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (June 25, 1767).

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Jun 25 - Pennsylvania Gazette Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (June 25, 1767).

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Jun 25 - Pennsylvania Gazette Supplement Slavery 3
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (June 25, 1767).

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Jun 25 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette (June 25, 1767).

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Jun 25 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette (June 25, 1767).

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Jun 25 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette (June 25, 1767).

June 24

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

Jun 24 - 6:24:1767 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (June 24, 1767).

“TO BE SOLD, A YOUNG, HEALTHY, and HANDY, NEGROE WENCH.”

Nine advertisements about enslaved men and women appeared in the June 24, 1767, edition of the Georgia Gazette. Four of them offered slaves for sale. Another sought not to sell an enslaved woman outright but instead to hire her out by the month. Readers could rent her services – washing and ironing – for less than purchasing a slave. The slaveholder continued to generate a return on an investment in human property. Three other advertisements warned against runaways and offered rewards for their capture and return. The final advertisement identified two runaways that had been captured and “Brought to the Work-house, ” where they were being held until their masters collected them.

As the image above demonstrates, seven of those advertisements ran on the final page of the issue. They accounted for approximately half of the content printed on the page. The other two notices similarly accounted for half of the space allotted to advertising elsewhere in the issue. This underscores that advertisements concerning slaves provided a firm foundation for other sorts of advertising in the Georgia Gazette. Revenues from these advertisements contributed to the continuation of the newspaper.

Most of these advertisements focused exclusively on slaves, especially those for runaways and captured fugitives. On the other hand, some that advertised slaves for sale did so in the midst of attempting to make other sales as well. For instance, one notice for an estate sale listed “HOUSEHOLD and KITCHEN FURNITURE” and “a SMALL STOCK of CATTLE, a GUN, a PAIR of PISTOLS, a SMALLSWORD, TWO WATCHES, a NEGROE BOY, a MAN’s SADDLE, &c.” The same advertisement also listed “TWO NEGROE FELLOWS, a PARCEL of BOOKS, and sundry other articles.” Undifferentiated from other possessions, the presence of slaves among an estate inventory soon to be auctioned further demonstrates that eighteenth-century consumer culture (and the print culture that bolstered it) operated firmly within a system that relied on the productive labor of enslaved men, women, and children and the ability to buy and sell them as easily as any other commodities.

Summary of Slavery Advertisements Published June 18-24

These tables indicate how many advertisements for slaves appeared in colonial American newspapers during the week of June 18-24, 1767.

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 (including the Pennsylvania Journal); and
  • Newspapers published in a language other than English (including the Wochentliche Philadelphische Staatsbote).

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Slavery Advertisements Published June 18-24, 1767:  By Date

Slavery Adverts Tables 1767 By Date Jun 18

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Slavery Advertisements Published June 18-24, 1767:  By Region

Slavery Adverts Tables 1767 By Region Jun 18

Slavery Advertisements Published June 24, 1767

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

Jun 24 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 1
Georgia Gazette (June 24, 1767).

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Jun 24 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 2
Georgia Gazette (June 24, 1767).

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Jun 24 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 3
Georgia Gazette (June 24, 1767).

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Jun 24 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 4
Georgia Gazette (June 24, 1767).

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Jun 24 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 5
Georgia Gazette (June 24, 1767).

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Jun 24 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 6
Georgia Gazette (June 24, 1767).

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Jun 24 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 7
Georgia Gazette (June 24, 1767).

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Jun 24 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 8
Georgia Gazette (June 24, 1767).

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Jun 24 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 9
Georgia Gazette (June 24, 1767).

June 23

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

Jun 23 - 6:23:1767 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (June 23, 1767).

“Returns his hearty thanks to those gentlemen and ladies who have favoured him with their custom.”

Richard Fowler, an upholsterer and paperhanger, assisted residents of Charleston in adorning their homes. He sold a variety of decorative arts, including hardware to decorate chests and desk drawers as well as paper hangings (today known as wallpaper), both patterned or with landscape scenes. At the same time that shopkeepers marketed all sorts of housewares for colonists to decorate their personal spaces, Fowler provided means for transforming those spaces by updating the appearances of walls and furniture. Upholstery and paper hangings garnered immediate attention, while the “baubles of Britain” might more easily be overlooked or have less impact.

Acquiring paper hangings and upholstery thus represented both an important choice and a significant investment. Visually, both drew the eye, setting the tone for any room and creating a first impression that testified to the tastes of the residents. Prospective customers wanted to create settings where they felt comfortable, but they also wished to impress visitors and communicate their own style and awareness of current fashions.

To that end, Fowler did not merely supply and install upholstery and paper hangings. Instead, he also took on some of the duties of an eighteenth-century interior decorator, assisting clients in choosing upholstery and paper hangings that best suited them. Note that he described both patterned and landscape paper hangings as “genteel.” Exercising such responsibility required some amount of trust. To gain new patrons, Fowler needed to demonstrate that previous customers had indeed entrusted him to provide such services. He did so by extending “his hearty thanks to those gentlemen and ladies who have favoured him with their custom” and pledged to “merit it by his care and assiduity.” Through extending this invitation to former customers, Fowler implied that he had an active clientele. Regardless of whether previous customers engaged his services again, his advertisement suggested to prospective new customers that Fowler’s services were popular among local “gentlemen and ladies” because he delivered both quality and refinement.

Slavery Advertisements Published June 23, 1767

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

Jun 23 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (June 23, 1767).

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Jun 23 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (June 23, 1767).

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Jun 23 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (June 23, 1767).

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Jun 23 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (June 23, 1767).

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Jun 23 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (June 23, 1767).

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Jun 23 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 6
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (June 23, 1767).

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Jun 23 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 7
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (June 23, 1767).

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Jun 23 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 8
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (June 23, 1767).

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Jun 23 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (June 23, 1767).

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Jun 23 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (June 23, 1767).

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Jun 23 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 3
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (June 23, 1767).

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Jun 23 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 4
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (June 23, 1767).

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Jun 23 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 5
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (June 23, 1767).

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Jun 23 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 6
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (June 23, 1767).

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Jun 23 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 7
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (June 23, 1767).

June 22

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

Jun 22 - 6:22:1767 Boston Post-Boy
Boston Post-Boy (June 22, 1767).

“She undertakes to make and mend Men’s Leather Shoes.”

Elizabeth Shaw, “Shoe-Maker, from Europe,” was not the only woman who placed a newspaper advertisement for consumer goods and services in a colonial newspaper 250 years ago today. Mary Hill also inserted a commercial notice in the Boston Post-Boy, informing potential customers that she sold a “Variety of Millinary.” Priscilla Manning informed readers of the Boston Evening-Post that she carried a “Variety of English & India GOODS” at her shop. In other colonies, Mary Maylem’s advertisement for a “neat Assortment of fashionable GOODS” appeared in the Newport Mercury. The Widow Hays hawked “ALL Sorts of PICKLES … with several Sorts of SWEET MEATS” in the New-York Gazette while Margaret Collins and Elizabeth Bevan each placed her own advertisement for “Gentlemen Lodgers” in the New-York Mercury. Mrs. Adams did not place a separate advertisement in the South Carolina Gazette, but writing master William Adams indicated near the end of his notice that “Mrs. Adams will teach young ladies to sew” and planned to acquire “a compleat assortment of millinary” to retail on her own.

Shaw joined the ranks of other women who entered the marketplace by inserting an advertisement in the public prints, but the nature of her business differed from the other women who advertised on the same day. Among those who sold goods, Manning and Maylem operated shops where they sold all kinds of imported goods, but especially textiles and housewares. Hill specialized in selling millinery and also made her own hats to sell to other women. Hays provided food to her customers. Collins, Bevan, and Adams extended their domestic responsibilities into business endeavors, the first two taking in boarders and Adams teaching girls to sew. Although they all entered the marketplace, these women followed occupations deemed appropriate to their gender. Shaw, on the other hand, practiced a trade more often associated with men, though not their exclusive domain. She did not limit herself to predominantly female clients, but instead made and repaired “Men’s Leather Shoes” as well. The other female advertisers demonstrated what was probable when it came to women’s occupations in colonial America, but Shaw’s advertisement testified to what was possible.

Slavery Advertisements Published June 22, 1767

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

Jun 22 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 1
Boston Evening-Post (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 1
Boston-Gazette (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - Connecticut Courant Slavery 1
Connecticut Courant (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - New-York Gazette Slavery 1
New-York Gazette (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - New-York Gazette Slavery 2
New-York Gazette (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - New-York Mercury Slavery 1
New-York Mercury (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - New-York Mercury Slavery 2
New-York Mercury (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - New-York Mercury Slavery 3
New-York Mercury (June 22, 1767)

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Jun 22 - New-York Mercury Slavery 4
New-York Mercury (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - New-York Mercury Slavery 5
New-York Mercury (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - New-York Mercury Slavery 6
New-York Mercury (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - New-York Mercury Slavery 7
New-York Mercury (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - New-York Mercury Slavery 8
New-York Mercury (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - New-York Mercury Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the New-York Mercury (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - New-York Mercury Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the New-York Mercury (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - New-York Mercury Supplement Slavery 3
Supplement to the New-York Mercury (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - New-York Mercury Supplement Slavery 4
Supplement to the New-York Mercury (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - Newport Mercury Slavery 1
Newport Mercury (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - Newport Mercury Slavery 2
Newport Mercury (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - Newport Mercury Slavery 3
Newport Mercury (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 1
South Carolina Gazette (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 2
South Carolina Gazette (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 3
South Carolina Gazette (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 4
South Carolina Gazette (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 5
South Carolina Gazette (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 6
South Carolina Gazette (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 7
South Carolina Gazette (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 8
South Carolina Gazette (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 9
South Carolina Gazette (June 22, 1767).

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Jun 22 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 10
South Carolina Gazette (June 22, 1767).

 

June 21

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

Jun 21 - 6:19:1767 South-Carolina and American General Gazette
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (June 19, 1767).

“Will be sold 10 per cent. under the common advance.”

John Davies paid attention to quality and, especially, price in his advertisement for imported Irish linens and other textiles in the South-Carolina and American General Gazette. He encouraged customers to buy in volume as a means of lowering prices as he targeted retailers who needed “to supply themselves … to sell again.” Although he did not specify specific rates for most of his goods, he did offer some numbers that would have been attractive to potential customers looking to acquire inventory and turn a profit themselves.

For instance, he stated that he “sold 10 per cent. under the common advance.” He assumed that potential customers already had a general sense of the going rates for the various sorts of textiles he sold, enticing them with the savings he offered compared to what they otherwise expected to pay. To sweeten the deal, he also promoted “the advantage of 5 per cent. being allowed in the purchase of them for prompt payment.” In other words, as he stated later in the advertisement, those “who purchase with cash” rather than credit stood to enjoy an additional discount that made his prices even more competitive. Davies implied further discounts for buying in bulk – “still greater allowance that will be made in taking a quantity” – although he did not offer specifics. The size of the subsequent discount may have been tied to the quantity purchased, subject to negotiations between Davies and his customers at the time of sale.

How was Davies able to offer low prices and significant discounts? He had cultivated relationships directly with the manufacturers, sidestepping English merchants who usually supplied American wholesalers and retailers. There had been “no charge of commissions” to other parties to drive up Davies’s prices. He also kept costs down by making his own purchases in cash rather than credit that accumulated interest. He passed his savings on to his customers in Charleston.

June 20

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

Jun 20 - 6:20:1767 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (June 20, 1767).

“For further Particulars inquire of EDWARD SPALDING, in Providence.”

Edward Spalding (sometimes Spauldin in other advertisements) had two purposes when he took an advertisement in the Providence Gazette in the spring of 1767. First, he wished to sell a farm in Coventry. As long as he was purchasing space in the newspaper, he also opted to promote his business. He reminded readers that he “still carries on the Business of cleaning and repairing CLOCKS and WATCHES” at his shop across the street from the printing office. In the past, Spalding advertised fairly regularly. He was one of the first advertisers to insert commercial notices in the Providence Gazette when it resumed publication the previous year. He must have considered it a good return on his investment since he decided to include commercial marketing at the end of his notice concerning real estate.

Spalding’s hybrid advertisement presents a conundrum for conducting any sort of quantitative study of advertising in eighteenth-century America. Newspapers of the era did not have classifieds. They did not organize advertisements in any particular order or by categories that suggested the general purpose of the notices. Sometimes, as seen here, individual advertisements had multiple purposes. Spalding and the printers of the Providence Gazette did not classify this advertisement. How should historians do so? It would not be appropriate to categorize it solely as a real estate notice or solely as marketing consumer goods and services. More appropriately, it should count as both, but that sort of double counting does not address another issue. Together or separately, both halves of Spalding’s advertisement were relatively short compared to many others for both real estate and consumer goods and services inserted in eighteenth-century newspapers. This suggests that tabulating column inches devoted to advertisements (or portions of advertisements) might produce more accurate data for assessing the proliferation of advertising in relation to news and other content as well as comparing the quantity of advertising space utilized for various purposes. This, however, would be extremely labor intensive. It also requires access to the original newspapers rather than digital surrogates. Working with digitized sources allows for examining other sorts of questions concerning advertising in early America.

Earlier in my career I was much more enthusiastic about incorporating quantitative analysis into my study of advertisements for consumer goods and services in eighteenth-century America. Over time, however, I have determined that identifying general trends rather than hard numbers provides a sufficiently accurate portrait of the expansion of advertising in the era that the colonies became a nation.