September 30

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

Sep 30 - 9:30:1767 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (September 30, 1767).

“RUN AWAY … a NEGROE FELLOW, named LONDON.”

Hundreds of advertisements for runaway slaves appeared in colonial American newspapers every year throughout the 1760s, documenting one form of resistance to the institution of slavery. From New Hampshire to Georgia, readers would have recognized them as a familiar component of the public prints, published alongside advertisements for consumer goods and assorted legal notices. Many runaway advertisements focused solely on the experiences of particular runaways, but some also told stories about other members of colonial communities.

Grey Elliott inserted such an advertisement in the September 30, 1767, issue of the Georgia Gazette. In it, he reported that London, a “NEGROE FELLOW … well known in and about Savannah” ran away a month earlier. Elliott offered a reward, ten shillings, to whoever captured London and delivered him either to Elliott or “the Warden of the Work house in Savannah.” In addition, he detailed two other awards. Suspecting that London had assistance from accomplices, Elliott announced rewards for anyone “who shall discover him or her by whom the said negroe is harboured.” In other words, he was interested in learning where London was hiding out and who concealed him from his master and colonial authorities. The awards varied: “TWENTY SHILLINGS if a slave” (twice as much as the reward for capturing London) and “FIVE POUNDS … if a white person” (ten times as much as the reward for capturing the runaway). The wording makes it difficult to determine definitively if Elliott meant a slave informant would receive twenty shillings and a white one five pounds or of he meant that the rewards would depend on whether London received aid from a fellow slave or a white accomplice.

Either way, Elliott’s advertisement demonstrates that runaways did not always go it alone when they absconded from their masters. Instead, they benefited from assistance provided by other slaves and, perhaps, sometimes even sympathetic white colonists. Other runaway advertisements provided even more specific information, sometimes noting family relationships that might have drawn runaways to particular places or influenced others to provide aid and comfort. Running away was an act of resistance undertaken by many slaves, but it also had ripple effects. Those who provided assistance to runaways engaged in their own acts of resistance as member of a community allied against the power and authority of slaveholders.

Summary of Slavery Advertisements Published September 24-30, 1767

These tables indicate how many advertisements for slaves appeared in colonial American newspapers during the week of September 24-30, 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 September 24-30, 1767:  By Date

Slavery Adverts Tables 1767 By Date Sep 24

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Slavery Advertisements Published September 24-30, 1767:  By Region

Slavery Adverts Tables 1767 By Region Sep 24

Slavery Advertisements Published September 30, 1767

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

Sep 30 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 1
Georgia Gazette (September 30, 1767).

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Sep 30 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 2
Georgia Gazette (September 30, 1767).

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Sep 30 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 3
Georgia Gazette (September 30, 1767).

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Sep 30 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 4
Georgia Gazette (September 30, 1767).

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Sep 30 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 5
Georgia Gazette (September 30, 1767).

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Sep 30 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 6
Georgia Gazette (September 30, 1767).

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Sep 30 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 7
Georgia Gazette (September 30, 1767).

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Sep 30 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 8
Georgia Gazette (September 30, 1767).

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Sep 30 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 9
Georgia Gazette (September 30, 1767).

September 29

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

Sep 29 - 9:29:1767 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 29, 1767).

“They daily expect by the NANCY, Capt. JORDAN, from London, two very large and compleat assortments of goods.”

Like many merchants and shopkeepers throughout the colonies, Atkins and Weston indicated the source of their inventory in their newspaper advertisement. They informed readers of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal that that had “just imported from LONDON, per the Captains BALL, RAINIER, and ALEXANDER, a variety of Goods.” This was boilerplate, part of a formula for the first sentence of many advertisements, but it became a standard part of marketing in eighteenth-century America because it addressed several factors that motivated colonists to participate in a transatlantic consumer revolution.

In proclaiming that they “just imported from LONDON … a variety of Goods,” Atkins and Weston framed the remainder of their advertisement for potential customers. They promised consumer choice among the “variety of Goods” before listing many of them to demonstrate the point. They emphasized a sense of shared identity among residents of the empire’s largest and most cosmopolitan city and colonists in Charleston, South Carolina, and its hinterlands. (Note that the partners operated two shops, one in Charleston and the other in Stono.) Their customers participate in the same “empire of goods” distributed in England. They also asserted that their merchandise was timely, implying that it corresponded to current fashions. An ocean separated consumers in London and Charleston, but this did not have to prevent colonists from keeping up with current tastes and styles.

In addition, listing which captains (and, sometimes, which vessels) delivered the goods to the colonial port allowed for readers to confirm that the merchandise had indeed been acquired recently rather than sitting on shelves or in storage for an extended period. At least some readers would know when certain ships had arrived at port, but any reader could browse the shipping news, usually printed immediately before the advertisements, to learn when ships had entered and departed the harbor.

Atkins and Weston developed an enhancement to this standard introduction. Later in their advertisement they reported that “they daily expect by the NANCY, Capt. JORDAN, from London, two very large and compleat assortments of goods, … and regular importations in future.” Not only did they incite demand for their current inventory, they also encouraged potential customers to anticipate the new wares that would soon become available via the Nancy. Furthermore, promises of “regular importations in future” revealed their confidence in their supply chain while also conditioning readers to assume that Atkins and Weston frequently updated their merchandise even without being exposed to subsequent advertising.

Slavery Advertisements Published September 29, 1767

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

Sep 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 29, 1767).

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Sep 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 29, 1767).

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Sep 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 29, 1767).

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Sep 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 29, 1767).

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Sep 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 29, 1767).

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Sep 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 6
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 29, 1767).

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Sep 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 7
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 29, 1767).

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Sep 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 8
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 29, 1767).

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Sep 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 9
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 29, 1767).

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Sep 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 10
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 29, 1767).

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Sep 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 29, 1767).

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Sep 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 29, 1767).

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Sep 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 3
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 29, 1767).

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Sep 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 4
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 29, 1767).

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Sep 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 5
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 29, 1767).

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Sep 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 6
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 29, 1767).

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Sep 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 7
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 29, 1767).

September 28

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

Sep 28 - 9:28:1767 New-York Gazette
New-York Gazette (September 28, 1767).

“All kind of Hanging Paper, of the newest Patterns.”

Prior to the Revolution, many Americans decorated their homes with wallpaper (known in the eighteenth century as “Hanging Paper” or paper hangings) imported from Great Britain. That trade temporarily ceased during the war, but Americans resumed acquiring wallpaper (and many other consumer goods) from England almost as soon as the Treaty of Paris brought an end to hostilities in 1783. At that time, the new nation set its own trade policies and, no longer inhibited by restrictions put in place by Parliament, increased the flow of goods from other European nation-states. Some advertisers promoted French paper hangings as alternatives to any from Britain in the 1780s and 1790s.

Yet importers did not provide Americans sole access to wallpaper, either before or after the Revolution. Domestic manufacturers incorporated “Buy American” appeals into their marketing efforts in the final decades of the eighteenth century. Some even lobbied for tariffs on imported paper hangings in order to bend competition in the marketplace to their own advantage.[1]

Advertisements from the late colonial period reveal that production of wallpaper commenced in America prior to the Revolution. John Scully, for instance, made, sold, and installed “Hanging Paper” and “Borderings suitable to the Paper” in New York in the 1760s. Realizing that many prospective clients might consider imported wallpaper superior for a variety of reasons, he advanced multiple appeals to convince readers of the New-York Gazette to give him a chance. He stressed that he “MANUFACTURES all kind” of wallpaper, implying he offered the same range of choice as his competitors who imported from England. He underscored that his wares followed “the newest Patterns,” reassuring potential customers that they did not have to purchase wallpaper produced on the other side of the Atlantic in order to keep up with fashions set in the cosmopolitan center of the empire. Lest potential clients assume that American manufacturers could not produce wallpaper of the same quality as the English imports, Scully proudly stated that he had “served a regular Apprenticeship” in that business. Customers could depend on his skill.

John Scully realized that his livelihood depended on successfully competing with shopkeepers and paperhangers who sold and installed wallpaper imported from England. To do so, he made appeals to choice, fashion, and his own training to convince consumers to purchase from him.

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[1] For more on the marketing of paper hangings after the Revolution, see Carl Robert Keyes, “A Revolution in Advertising: ‘Buy American’ Campaigns in the Late Eighteenth Century,” in Creating Advertising Culture: Beginnings to the 1930s, vol. 1, We Are What We Sell: How Advertising Shapes American Life … And Always Has, ed. Danielle Sarver Coombs and Bob Batchelor (Praeger, 2014), 1-25.

Slavery Advertisements Published September 28, 1767

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

Sep 28 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 1
Boston-Gazette (September 28, 1767).

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Sep 28 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 2
Boston-Gazette (September 28, 1767).

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Sep 28 - New-York Gazette Slavery 1
New-York Gazette (September 28, 1767).

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Sep 28 - New-York Gazette Slavery 2
New-York Gazette (September 28, 1767).

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Sep 28 - New-York Mercury Slavery 1
New-York Mercury (September 28, 1767).

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Sep 28 - New-York Mercury Slavery 2
New-York Mercury (September 28, 1767).

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Sep 28 - New-York Mercury Slavery 3
New-York Mercury (September 28, 1767).

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Sep 28 - New-York Mercury Slavery 4
New-York Mercury (September 28, 1767).

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Sep 28 - New-York Mercury Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the New-York Mercury (September 28, 1767).

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Sep 28 - New-York Mercury Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the New-York Mercury (September 28, 1767).

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Sep 28 - New-York Mercury Supplement Slavery 3
Supplement to the New-York Mercury (September 28, 1767).

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Sep 28 - Newport Mercury Slavery 1
Newport Mercury (September 28, 1767).

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Sep 28 - Newport Mercury Slavery 2
Newport Mercury (September 28, 1767).

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Sep 28 - Newport Mercury Slavery 3
Newport Mercury (September 28, 1767).

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Sep 28 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Chronicle (September 28, 1767).