Slavery Advertisements Published November 25, 1767

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

Nov 25 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 1
Georgia Gazette (November 25, 1767).

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Nov 25 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 2
Georgia Gazette (November 25, 1767).

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Nov 25 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 3
Georgia Gazette (November 25, 1767).

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Nov 25 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 4
Georgia Gazette (November 25, 1767).

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Nov 25 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 5
Georgia Gazette (November 25, 1767).

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Nov 25 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 6
Georgia Gazette (November 25, 1767).

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Nov 25 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 7
Georgia Gazette (November 25, 1767).

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Nov 25 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 8
Georgia Gazette (November 25, 1767).

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Nov 25 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 9
Georgia Gazette (November 25, 1767).

November 24

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

Nov 24 - 11:24:1767 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1767).

“The fellow run away two months from the above date.”

This runaway slave advertisement includes a truncated family history of “a negro man slave named NED.” Although Peter Sanders, the slaveholder who placed the advertisement, did not indicate the origins of Ned’s parents, he did report that the fugitive had been born in South Carolina. Sanders also revealed that Ned had a wife and children, though he did not name them, give ages for any members of the family, or specify how many children. Along with several of his relatives, Ned previously belonged to Colonel William Waters, but he had been separated from them when the executor of Waters’s estate sold him at a public auction. While the white community mourned the death of Waters, the members of at least one enslaved family experienced the emotional trauma of having their fates determined by the division and settling of the estate, a process that treated them as property rather than people.

Yet Ned did not abide by the outcome of the auction that separated him from his family. Instead, he made repeated attempts to reunite with them. Sanders noted that Ned’s mother, wife, and children remained “at the plantation of said Waters at Goose-creek, or Wampee-Savannah,” which led him to believe that accomplices “harboured” him there. Ned’s new master suspected that black men and women, either family or friends, hid the runaway, but he did not dismiss the possibility that Ned, who was “well known at Stono, or at the plantations above mentioned,” had enlisted the aid of sympathetic white colonists. Racial lines did not necessarily overrule personal relationships in every situation. That being the case, Sanders offered a reward to any informers upon the conviction of anyone who assisted Ned: five pounds for a black accomplice and twenty pounds for a white person.

In the time since Sanders had purchased Ned, the enslaved man spent as much time on the run as laboring for his new master. Ned escaped in order to rejoin three generations of his family. Every advertisement for runaway slaves implicitly testifies to a thirst for freedom from bondage, but the advertisement for “a negro man slave named NED” also explicitly tells a powerful story about one of the many reasons why freedom was as important to enslaved men, women, and children as it was to white colonists.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 24, 1767

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

Nov 24 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1767).

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Nov 24 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1767).

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Nov 24 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1767).

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Nov 24 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1767).

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Nov 24 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1767).

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Nov 24 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 6
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1767).

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Nov 24 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 7
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1767).

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Nov 24 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 8
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1767).

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Nov 24 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 9
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1767).

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Nov 24 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 10
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1767).

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Nov 24 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 11
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1767).

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Nov 24 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 12
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1767).

November 23

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

Nov 23 - 11:23:1767 Boston Evening-Post
Boston Evening-Post (November 23, 1767).

“The Sons of Liberty now have an Opportunity of manifesting their Regard for the Encouragement of our Manufactures.”

Just as the Boston town meeting voted to encourage consumption of domestic goods rather than imports on the eve of the Townshend Act going into effect, Peter Etter and Sons placed an advertisement in the Boston-Gazette to promote their stockings and other garments “Manufactured in Braintree.” Two weeks after that advertisement first appeared, Etter and Sons also inserted it in the Boston Evening-Post.

The version in the Gazette remained unchanged, but the Evening-Post included a short addition at the end of the notice. A manicule drew attention to this note: “The Sons of Liberty now have an Opportunity of manifesting their Regard for the Encouragement of our Manufactures, by calling at the above Store, and buying some of the abovementioned Articles.” Just in case the “Manufactured in Braintree” headline was too subtle, Etter and Sons explicitly challenged colonists who considered themselves “Sons of Liberty” to demonstrate their commitment to the cause by purchasing their wares rather than the imported goods that retailers hawked in approximately a dozen other advertisements in the same issue.

Etter and Sons may have benefited from the fortuitous placement of their advertisement. Not only was it at the top of the first column on the third page, it also appeared immediately to the right of a related news item printed in the final column on the second page. It reported that “THE Inhabitants of this Metropolis still persevere in their resolution to discourage the use of foreign Superfluities as the only means of saving the Country from Impending ruin.” The town meeting had authorized non-importation and non-consumption agreements. To that end, subscription lists circulated; colonists publicly pledged to support the boycotts by “subscribing” or signing their names. According to the Evening-Post, many colonists styled themselves “Sons of Liberty” because “it appeared that great Part of the Freeholders had subscribed.” Other colonists still had a chance to join the movement by visiting the Town Clerk’s Office and signing their own names.

With so many Bostonians signing the subscription rolls, Etter and Sons should have benefited from a vastly expanded market for their clothing “Manufactured in Braintree.” It was one thing to pledge not to purchase imported goods, however, and quite another to follow through on that promise. Etter and Sons challenged those who professed to be “Sons of Liberty” to demonstrate their resolve by actually purchasing garments from local producers.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 23, 1767

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

Nov 23 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 1
Boston Evening-Post (November 23, 1767).

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Nov 23 - Boston Post-Boy Slavery 1
Boston Post-Boy (November 23, 1767).

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Nov 23 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 1
Boston-Gazette (November 23, 1767).

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Nov 23 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 2
Boston-Gazette (November 23, 1767).

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Nov 23 - New-York Gazette Slavery 1
New-York Gazette (November 23, 1767).

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Nov 23 - New-York Gazette Slavery 2
New-York Gazette (November 23, 1767).

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Nov 23 - New-York Mercury Slavery 1
New-York Mercury (November 23, 1767).

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Nov 23 - New-York Mercury Slavery 2
New-York Mercury (November 23, 1767).

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Nov 23 - New-York Mercury Slavery 3
New-York Mercury (November 23, 1767).

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Nov 23 - New-York Mercury Slavery 4
New-York Mercury (November 23, 1767).

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Nov 23 - New-York Mercury Slavery 5
New-York Mercury (November 23, 1767).

November 22

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

Nov 22 - 11:20:1767 New-Hampshire Gazette
New-Hampshire Gazette (November 20, 1767).

“Prevent the Money’s going out of the Province to the Detriment of every Individual.”

Advertisements for almanacs usually began appearing, sporadically, in colonial newspapers in September, allowing readers plenty of time to acquire their own copy before the new year commenced. As January approached, the variety of titles and the number of advertisements increased. By the end of November, just about every newspaper throughout the colonies included at least one advertisement for almanacs each week. Many printers testified to the accuracy of the calculations in the almanacs they published and sold. Some promoted them by listing an extensive table of contents, informing prospective customers of the entertaining anecdotes and valuable reference material.

Daniel Fowle and Robert Fowle, printers of the New-Hampshire Gazette, took a rather unique approach when they marketed “AMES’s Almanack For the Year 1768.” They did acknowledge that “particular Care will be taken to have it correct,” but most of their advertisement focused on the advantages of purchasing their imprint rather than the same title printed in Boston. They first asserted that they provided an important public service that merited reciprocation from readers (not all of whom would have been subscribers) of the New-Hampshire Gazette. The Fowles took on “very great Expence” in publishing the colony’s only newspaper and informing “their Customers [of] every Occurrence Foreign and Domestick, that they thought worthy of public Notice.” They suggested that this should predispose readers to purchase their almanacs rather than any printed by their competitors.

If that were not enough to convince readers, the Fowles made another practical argument, one founded on the collective economic welfare of the colony’s inhabitants. When readers purchased almanacs from printers in Boston, they did so “to the Detriment of every Individual at this scarce Season for Cash.” The Fowles cautioned against “the Money’s going out of the Province” that way, warning that readers could prevent that situation. The printers balanced their civic service in publishing the newspaper with the civic duty of readers to also act on behalf of their community’s shared interests. The Fowles assumed that readers planned to purchase almanacs; they developed marketing aimed to funnel existing demand to their product.

November 21

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

Nov 21 - 11:21:1767 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (November 21, 1767).

“At as low a Rate as he ever yet sold, and as cheap as can be bought at any Store in New-England, by Retail.”

Throughout the eighteenth century shopkeepers and merchants consistently made appeals to price as they attempted to incite demand for their wares. Almost every advertisement for consumer goods and services in the November 21, 1767, edition of the Providence Gazette, for instance, made some sort of reference to low prices. While some advertisers resorted to formulaic language, others devised increasingly innovative and elaborate ways of promoting bargain prices to potential customers. These appeals ranged from simple to bold.

Joseph and William Russell characterized their prices as “very cheap.” Similarly, Jonathan Russell offered an array of imported merchandise “at the very cheapest rate,” allowing the typography to provide additional emphasis. In terms of standardized language, advertisers frequently used both “cheap” and “reasonable” to describe their prices. Archibald Stewart and Robert Taylor promised to sell their goods “at the most reasonable rates.” Edward Thurber pledged to “sell on the most reasonable Terms” at his shop at the Sign of the Brazen Lion. Jabez Bowen, Jr., used the same phrase, one encountered in newspaper advertisements throughout the colonies.

Rather than merely claim that they set low prices, some advertisers favorably compared their prices to what consumers could expect to pay elsewhere. Samuel Nightingale, Jr., asserted that he “will sell as cheap as any Person in Town.” Nathaniel Greene made a similar claim, stating the he was “determined to sell [his goods] as low as any are sold in this Town.” Not to be outdone, Samuel Black and James Brown proclaimed that they “will sell as cheap as are sold in New-England by Retail.” Samuel Young also raised the stakes, trumpeting that he sold his merchandise “at as low a Rate as he ever yet sold, and as cheap as can be bought at any Store in New-England, by Retail.” While not quite as verbose, Benjamin Thurber and Daniel Cahoon professed “to sell … as cheap as any Person in this Town, or elsewhere.” Potential customers did not need to look to Boston or New York for better deals!

Gideon Young inserted perhaps the most novel appeal to price, assuring readers “of having the full Worth of their Money,” but he followed that with formulaic language about “the very lowest rates.” Regardless of how they described their prices, retailers regularly noted them as a means of enticing prospective customers to visit their shops. Their advertisements were not mere announcements about goods for sale that relied on incipient consumer demand; instead, eighteenth-century shopkeepers promised bargains as a means of marketing their merchandise to customers who sometimes needed to be convinced to make purchases.

November 20

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

Nov 20 - 11:20:1767 South-Carolina and American General Gazette
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1767).

“He keeps neither negroes nor apprentices, but hires white journeymen.”

Donald Harper, a tailor, made a rather unique appeal to prospective customers in an advertisement in the November 20, 1767, edition of the South-Carolina and American General Gazette. Unlike most of his competitors, he mentioned the assistants who worked for him, acknowledging that he was not solely responsible for all the garments produced in his shop. In the process, he underscored that “he keeps neither negroes nor apprentices, but hires white journeymen.”

What was Harper attempting to communicate to potential clients? From the distance of a quarter millennium, the racial aspect of this appeal may seem most prominent. It might be tempting to assume that since being fitted for clothing could be a rather intimate experience that required close personal contact that Harper suspected some customers would prefer not to interact with enslaved assistants. Yet other newspaper advertisements, as well as all kinds of other sources from the period, indicate that colonists had little objection to sharing spaces, even close quarters, with enslaved men, women, and children, provided that contact was temporary and that everyone behaved according to the expectations of prevailing social and racial hierarchies. The same issue of the South-Carolina and American General Gazette, for instance, included advertisements for enslaved domestic servants, including seamstresses, cooks, and other “house wenches.” In serving white colonists, slaves became invisible and unremarkable, which would have made Harper’s marketing strategy out of place had his intention been exclusively to promote a workshop free of enslaved workers.

The advertisement might better be understood by noting that Harper relied on the labor of “neither negroes nor apprentices.” Instead, he “hires white journeymen,” an aspect of his business that he connected to clients “being served to their satisfaction” because the journeymen did their work “with the greatest dispatch and in the genteelest manner.” Seen through the eyes of eighteenth-century readers, Harper made an appeal to quality. He did not resort to untrained or barely trained workers, whether enslaved or apprenticed, but instead hired artisans who had demonstrated some level of skill and competence in order to achieve journeyman status. As a result, customers could depend on a certain level of quality when they chose to acquire garments from Harper’s workshop.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 20, 1767

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

Nov 20 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 1
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1767).

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Nov 20 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 2
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1767).

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Nov 20 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 3
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1767).

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Nov 20 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 4
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1767).

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Nov 20 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 5
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1767).

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Nov 20 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 6
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1767).

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Nov 20 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 7
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1767).

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Nov 20 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 8
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1767).

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Nov 20 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 9
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1767).

November 19

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

Nov 19 - 11:19:1767 New-York Journal Supplement
Supplement to the New-York Journal (November 19, 1767).

“New fancied Goods too tedious to mention.”

Upon importing a “Large Assortment of MILLENARY,” M. Philips turned to the pages of the New-York Journal to advertise her wares. Unlike many other shopkeepers, she did not attempt to incite demand by indicating particular items in her inventory. In the two advertisements immediately above, for instance, Garrat Noel and James Nixon both listed dozens of items they peddled. Compared to Philips, both made a more significant investment in marketing. The newspaper’s colophon indicated that “Advertisements of a moderate Length are inserted for Five shilling, four Weeks, and One Shilling for each Week after.” Printer John Holt did not specify what qualified as moderate length, but he almost certainly charged Noel and Nixon more for their notices. Nixon’s advertisement occupied twice as much space as Philips’s relatively brief advertisement. Noel’s was five times as long. Featuring two columns of merchandise, it also involved much more complicated typography (though the advertising rates in the colophon do not indicate any additional fees for such services).

Even though Philips did not attempt to entice potential customers with an extensive list of the items on her shelves, she aimed to convince them that they would encounter an array of choices in her shop. First she stated that she had imported a “Large Assortment.” Then she described her inventory as a “great Variety.” It was such a “great Variety” that the particulars were “too tedious to mention” in an advertisement. In making that claim, Philips resorted to a strategy sometimes deployed by other merchants and shopkeepers, though some placed the phrase at the end of a list as a means of assuring readers that they had not exhaustively enumerated their wares. Prospective customers could still encounter some surprises in their shops.

Philips may have also benefited from the proximity of her advertisement to Noel’s. At the top of the column, Noel announced that he had imported goods from London via Captain Lawrence and the New-York. Philips also reported that she had “just imported” her millenary supplies and fancy goods “in the Ship New-York, Captain Lawrence, from London.” As a result, some readers may have associated the types of goods listed by Noel with the “newest and genteelest” merchandise in Philips’s shop. Noel’s advertisement primed readers to think of particular items. Philips then allowed them to conjure images of those and other “fancied Goods” at her store on Smith Street.