Slavery Advertisements Published July 27, 1767

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

Jul 27 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 1
Boston Evening-Post (July 27, 1767).

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Jul 27 - Boston Post-Boy Slavery 1
Boston Post-Boy (July 27, 1767).

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Jul 27 - Boston Post-Boy Slavery 2
Boston Post-Boy (July 27, 1767).

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Jul 27 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 1
Boston-Gazette (July 27, 1767).

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Jul 27 - New-York Mercury Slavery 1
New-York Mercury (July 27, 1767).

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Jul 27 - New-York Mercury Slavery 2
New-York Mercury (July 27, 1767).

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Jul 27 - New-York Mercury Slavery 3
New-York Mercury (July 27, 1767).

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Jul 27 - New-York Mercury Slavery 4
New-York Mercury (July 27, 1767(.

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Jul 27 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Chronicle (July 27, 1767).

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Jul 27 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Chronicle (July 27, 1767).

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Jul 27 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 1
South Carolina Gazette (July 27, 1767).

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Jul 27 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 2
South Carolina Gazette (July 27, 1767).

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Jul 27 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 3
South Carolina Gazette (July 27, 1767).

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Jul 27 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 4
South Carolina Gazette (July 27, 1767).

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Jul 27 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 5
South Carolina Gazette (July 27, 1767).

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Jul 27 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 6
South Carolina Gazette (July 27, 1767).

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Jul 27 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 7
South Carolina Gazette (July 27, 1767).

July 26

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

Jul 26 - 7:23:1767 Massachusetts Gazette
Massachusetts Gazette (July 23, 1767).

“A handsome Assortment of Feather Plumes for Ladies Heads.”

Unlike most advertisements for consumer goods published in eighteenth-century newspapers, this notice for a “Variety of Millenary Goods” did not indicate who sold the “handsome Assortment of Feather Plumes” or “Hats of all colours.” Instead, it simply stated that these items were “Sold cheap at the House of Capt. Joseph Goldthwait.”

Who placed this advertisement and ran a shop out of Goldthwait’s house? It may very well have been a female entrepreneur who did not wish to call widespread attention to her participation in the marketplace as a retailer rather than as a consumer. Women often operated small retail establishments out of their own homes or rooms they rented, especially in urban ports, but they were much less likely to advertise their commercial activities than their male counterparts. Female shopkeepers tended to be disproportionately underrepresented among the advertisements in the public prints.

That did not mean that women did not advertise at all. This advertisement for “Millenary Goods” appeared immediately below Jane Eustis’s own notice for a “Large and beautiful Assortment [of] Silks, Cap Laces,” and other millenary goods. Although she stocked “Mens and Womens silk Hose” and “Mens white silk Gloves,” Eustis promoted mostly textiles and adornments intended for female customers. Like the anonymous advertiser, she concluded by making special note of the “Tippets and Turbans” she sold “for less than the prime Cost.” The type of merchandise hawked by the anonymous advertiser increases the likelihood that a woman placed the notice and operated the shop “at the House of Capt. Joseph Goldthwait.”

This sort of anonymous advertisement was rather rare in colonial America. Certainly newspapers frequently carried notices that advised readers to “enquire of the printer,” but usually those regarded only one or a small number of commodities, not the “Variety” or “handsome Assortment” of imported goods marketed in this advertisement. It even ended with a teaser, “&c &c &c” (the eighteenth-century version of “etc. etc. etc.”), suggesting an even greater array of goods that rivaled what customers would find in the shops kept by Jane Eustis and other advertisers.

Women had a variety of reasons for not calling as much attention to their entrepreneurial activities as their male competitors, including assumptions about their appropriate roles in the household and marketplace. This advertisement may have been designed by a woman eking out a living who hoped to attract female customers yet remain shielded from other readers in colonial Boston.

July 25

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

Jul 25 - 7:25:1767 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (July 25, 1767).

“Advertisements omitted this Week, for want of Room, will be inserted in our next.”

Sarah Goddard and Company, the publishers of the Providence Gazette, apparently received more advertisements than space permitted them to insert in the July 25, 1767, edition. As a result, they included a notice frequently seen in rival newspapers in other cities: “Advertisement omitted this Week, for want of Room, will be inserted in our next.” This signaled to readers that they would discover new material in the next issue, but it also communicated to advertisers not to fret when they did not spot their notice in the current issue.

Space was indeed at a premium in that edition of the Providence Gazette. Advertising filled nearly five of the twelve columns (including the entire final page), which was quite a change from the scarcity of advertising that plagued Goddard and Company the previous winter. The printers no longer resorted to filling the last page with their own advertisements (although one short notice did inform readers that “THE new Digest of the LAWS of this Colony, printed in One Volume, are to be sold at the Printing-Office in Providence”). Instead, they printed advertisements of various sorts, including legal notices, real estate pitches, and one seeking the capture and return of “a Negro Man named Caesar.” The majority of advertisements, however, promoted consumer goods and services. William Logan announced that he “now carries on the Painting Business in all its Branches.” Thomas Sabin advertised his stagecoach service to Boston (also advertised in Boston’s newspapers) and Ebenezer Webb advertised his “Passage-Boat” between New London and Long Island (also advertised in the New-London Gazette). Several merchants and shopkeepers – Black and Stewart, William Brown, James Green, John Mathewson, Philip Potter, Benjamin West – sought to attract customers.

What accounted for this spirit of competition in the public prints that had been absent during the winter months? Why did Goddard and Company now have more advertisements than they squeeze into the weekly issue of the Providence Gazette? Did other marketing efforts beget more advertising? In recent weeks, several advertisers made bolder claims (such as James Green proclaiming that “he will sell as cheap as can be bought in any Shop in this Town, or an of the neighbouring Governments”), became rancorous (such as Black and Stewart lamenting “the Knavery of some, and the Collusion of others” to their detriment), and singled out specific competitors (such as Philip Potter pledging “he will sell as Cheap as the Messrs. Thurbers”).   A combination of increasingly vocal marketing efforts in the pages of the local newspaper and concurrent events revived the advertising section of the Providence Gazette in the summer of 1767.

July 24

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

Jul 24 - 7:24:1767 South-Carolina and American General Gazette
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 24, 1767).

“REBECCA WOODIN … CONTINUES to teach young ladies.”

Although women placed newspaper notices advertising goods and services in eighteenth-century America they were disproportionately underrepresented in the public prints compared to how actively they participated in the marketplace as retailers, suppliers, and producers rather than merely as consumers. Sometimes women’s enterprises made their way into the advertising section because male relations mentioned them in passing in notices that much more extensively promoted their own endeavors. Such was the case in writing master William Adams’s advertisement repeatedly published in the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal in the summer of 1767. He described his curriculum in detail before briefly noting that “Mrs. ADAMS, makes children’s gowns, slips, and teaches them to sew, mark, &c. She clear-starches, and washes silk stockings in the best manner.” Mrs. Adams’ participation in the marketplace was practically hidden in plain sight, appended to an advertisement that featured her husband’s name in all capitals and a larger font as its headline.

This was not always the case, however, when male and female relations shared advertising space. Rebecca and Thomas Woodin (presumably husband and wife, but perhaps siblings or parent and child) informed potential patrons of the services they offered in an advertisement that gave primacy to Rebecca’s school. Her description of “the different branches of Polite Education” and promise “to give satisfaction to all who place their children under her care” comprised approximately two-thirds of the advertisement. Rebecca’s enterprise came first, with Thomas, a carver and cabinetmaker, adding that he taught drawing and sold a variety of furniture. Not exactly an afterthought, Thomas did not appear first in the advertisement, usually the privileged place reserved for men when they shared advertising space with women. The structure of the advertisement recognized Rebecca Woodin’s labors as those of a partner who contributed to the household economy, especially compared to the cursory treatment Mrs. Adams received in her husband’s notice.

Each portion of the advertisement could have stood alone, yet the compositor did not insert a line across the entire column to indicate that one advertisement had ended and another began. Instead, a much shorter line allowed the two portions to flow together visually. This may have been the result of the Woodins pooling their resources to purchase a single advertisement rather than pay for two separate notices for enterprises pursued within the same household. The layout of the advertisement also suggested that the schoolmistress was subject to at least some level of masculine oversight. The depiction of Rebecca’s occupation was mediated by her connection to Thomas, yet he did not overshadow her.

Slavery Advertisements Published July 24, 1767

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

Jul 24 - New-Hampshire Gazette Slavery 1
New-Hampshire Gazette (July 24, 1767).

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Jul 24 - New-London Gazette Slavery 1
New-London Gazette (July 24, 1767).

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Jul 24 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 1
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 24, 1767).

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Jul 24 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 2
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 24, 1767).

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Jul 24 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 3
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 24, 1767).

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Jul 24 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 4
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 24, 1767).

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Jul 24 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 5
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 24, 1767).

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Jul 24 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 6
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 24, 1767).

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Jul 24 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 7
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 24, 1767).

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Jul 24 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 8
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 24, 1767).

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Jul 24 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 9
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 24, 1767).

July 23

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

Jul 23 - 7:23:1767 New-York Journal
New-York Journal (July 23, 1767).

“PETER GOELET … Has just imported … a great Variety of other Articles.”

Peter Goelet knew that potential customers might read one of several newspapers published in New York in 1767. To increase the chances that colonists who wanted or needed any of his “Large and complete Assortment of Ironmongery, Cutlery and Brasses” would see his advertisement and visit his shop “At the Golden-Key in Hanover-Square” he inserted his notice in more than one newspaper. On a Thursday, readers encountered it in the July 23, 1767, edition of the New-York Journal, but it had also appeared in the New-York Gazette and the New-York Mercury on the previous Monday. The copy did not vary from one publication to another, but the compositors in each printing office made their own decisions about typography (though the variations were minor).

Goelet incurred expenses when he placed his advertisement in multiple newspapers. Neither William Weyman nor Hugh Gaine, the printers of the New-York Gazette and the New-York Mercury, respectively, listed the price for advertising in their publications. John Holt, on the other hand, incorporated the fee schedule into the colophon of the New-York Journal: “Advertisements of a moderate Length are inserted for Five shillings, four Weeks, and One Shilling for each Week after.” Goelet and other advertisers paid a fee to have their notices set in type, but after a month purchased only the space. Goelet, however, did not take advantage of these savings. His advertisement first appeared on July 16 and then again in the next three issues. Perhaps he had stretched the resources he was willing to commit to marketing as far as possible at the time and decided not to continue inserting this particular advertisement. Apparently, however, he believed that advertising in the New-York Journal had been worth the investment. Within three months he inserted a new, much lengthier list-style advertisement that enumerated scores of items recently imported from London and Bristol. New merchandise merited new expenditures on advertising in order to move the goods out the door and generate revenue.

Slavery Advertisements Published July 23, 1767

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

Jul 23 - Massachusetts Gazette Slavery 1
Massachusetts Gazette (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Massachusetts Gazette Slavery 2
Massachusetts Gazette (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - New-York Journal Slavery 1
New-York Journal (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Gazette (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Gazette (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 3
Pennsylvania Gazette (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 4
Pennsylvania Gazette (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 5
Pennsylvania Gazette (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Pennsylvania Gazette Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Pennsylvania Gazette Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Pennsylvania Gazette Supplement Slavery 3
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 5
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 6
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 5
Virginia Gazette (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 6
Virginia Gazette (July 23, 1767).

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Jul 23 - Virginia Gazette Slavery 7
Virginia Gazette (July 23, 1767).

July 22

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

Jul 22 - 7:22:1767 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (July 22, 1767).

“SUGAR … RUM … NEGROES … NEGROE SHOES.”

Cowper and Telfairs’ business, at least the aspects promoted in this advertisement, revolved around the enslavement of African men, women, and children. Near the end of July 1767, they announced to readers of the Georgia Gazette that they sold “A FEW NEGROES, consisting of men, women, boys, and girls.” They did not, however, elaborate on the origins of these slaves, whether they had just arrived in the colony directly from Africa or if they had been transshipped through other colonial ports or if they had been born in Georgia. Nor did they add other information that acknowledged the humanity of the men, women, and children they sold. The “NEGROES” were merely commodities to be exchanged, not unlike the goods listed before and after them in the advertisement.

Colonists who had acquired slaves also needed to outfit them. Cowper and Telfairs pursued this market as well, selling “NEGROE SHOES at 36s. per dozen.” The price structure indicates that the partners expected to deal with slaveholders who wished to purchase in volume. The Georgia Gazette and the several newspapers published in Charleston, South Carolina, frequently inserted advertisements for “NEGROE SHOES,” though none provided much detail about the shoes. As the price suggests, they would have been constructed of inferior materials, especially stiff fabrics, and not particularly comfortable. Presumably readers were already so familiar with this commodity that “NEGROE SHOES” usually merited no additional comment. Cowper and Telfairs, however, did offer various sizes. They promised, “Any person who chuses to deliver measure[ment]s may be supplied in proper time for their negroes.”

Finally, Cowper and Telfairs advertised commodities produced with enslaved labor: sugar and rum. Slaves certainly participated directly in the cultivation and processing of sugar. The advertisers did not reveal the origins of the rum they sold. Slaves may have played a significant role in distilling it. At the very least, rum, whether made from molasses or sugarcane juice, was a byproduct of sugar production, a commodity that circulated throughout the Atlantic world in great quantities as a consequence of enslaved labor on sugar plantations.

Cowper and Telfairs advertised several “commodities” – slaves, shoes, sugar, rum – that might seem like a haphazard combination at first glance. However, the system of enslavement that formed the foundation of economic exchange in the early modern Atlantic world linked all of these “commodities” in ways that would have been apparent to eighteenth-century readers and consumers.

Summary of Slavery Advertisements Published July 16-22, 1767

These tables indicate how many advertisements for slaves appeared in colonial American newspapers during the week of July 16-22, 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 July 16-22, 1767:  By Date

Slavery Adverts Tables 1767 By Date Jul 16

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Slavery Advertisements Published July 16-22, 1767:  By Region

Slavery Adverts Tables 1767 By Region Jul 16