Summary of Slavery Advertisements Published January 21-27, 1768

These tables indicate how many advertisements for slaves appeared in colonial American newspapers during the week of January 21-27, 1768.

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 January 21-27, 1768:  By Date

Slavery Adverts Tables 1767 By Date Jan 21

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Slavery Advertisements Published January 21-27, 1768:  By Region

Slavery Adverts Tables 1767 By Region Jan 21

Slavery Advertisements Published January 27, 1768

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

Jan 27 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 1
Georgia Gazette (January 27, 1768).

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Jan 27 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 2
Georgia Gazette (January 27, 1768).

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Jan 27 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 3
Georgia Gazette (January 27, 1768).

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Jan 27 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 4
Georgia Gazette (January 27, 1768).

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Jan 27 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 5
Georgia Gazette (January 27, 1768).

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Jan 27 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 6
Georgia Gazette (January 27, 1768).

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Jan 27 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 7
Georgia Gazette (January 27, 1768).

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Jan 27 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 8
Georgia Gazette (January 27, 1768).

January 26

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

Jan 26 - 1:26:1768 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

“She was with child when she went away.”

Every advertisement about a runaway slave tells a story of resistance and the struggle to claim the same liberty enjoyed by the slaveholder who placed the advertisement. Yet these advertisements contain much more. They often reveal family histories or suggest bonds of affection among enslaved men, women, and children. As much as slaveholders may have wished to pretend otherwise, such stories embedded in advertisements intended to reclaim their property testified to the humanity of men, women, and children held in bondage.

Consider Sampson and Miley. The two ran away from the same plantation at the same time, quite likely departing together. Alexander Kerr described both of them in an advertisement. Sampson, approximately thirty, was missing two of his front teeth. Miley, a “slender made wench,” may have been even more recognizable by her “yellow complexion” and the “country marks on her face.” In addition, she was “with child” when she ran away. Her pregnancy would only become more apparent until she delivered the baby. After that, caring for an infant would continue to distinguish her from other black women.

What was Sampson and Miley’s relationship? He may have been the father of Miley’s child. Perhaps they made a decision that as parents they needed to escape together rather than allowing their child to be born into bondage. Perhaps Sampson and Miley had been in a relationship that their master refused to recognize. Miley’s child may have been the result of sexual assault by their master or an overseer, in which case Sampson could have aided her escape as a means of providing more protection for both mother and child than he previously had been capable of providing for Miley. Perhaps Sampson and Miley were friends, siblings, or otherwise related. They may have determined that they had better chances to make good on their escape if they assisted each other.

Despite all the details included in the descriptions of Sampson and Miley, Alexander Kerr did not specify their relationship to each other. It simply may not have mattered to him. After all, the stakes were much different for him than for the fugitives. Kerr demanded the return of his property, but the pregnant Miley and her companion sought freedom for themselves and a child on its way. Unwillingly, Kerr’s advertisement for runaway slaves revealed bonds of affection that would extend to another generation upon the birth of Miley’s child. Unintentionally, he gave voice in print to the sincerest desires of slaves that he otherwise attempted to keep silent.

Slavery Advertisements Published January 26, 1768

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

Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 6
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 7
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 8
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 9
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 10
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 11
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 12
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 13
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 14
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 15
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 16
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 17
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 3
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 4
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 5
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 6
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 7
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 8
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

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Jan 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 9
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 26, 1768).

January 25

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

Jan 25 - 1:25:1768 Boston Post-Boy
Boston Evening-Post (January 25, 1768).

“It is his Design to keep a full Assortment of the above Goods for his Customers untill they can be supplied on better Terms from our own manufacturing Towns.”

In January 1768 Gilbert Deblois stocked “A large Assortment of English and India GOODS” that had been “Imported in the last Ships from London & Bristol.” Even though his merchandise included “the most fashionable colour’d Broad Cloths,” “genteel figur’d Sattins,” and “newest fashion Ribbons,” an appeal emphasizing current tastes likely fell short with many local consumers. Even though his inventory included the “best Hair Plushes” and “best Manchester Checks,” an appeal to quality also likely failed to impress many local consumers. Even though he stocked an extensive array of goods, from “a large Collection of new fashion Stuffs” to “Baize of all widths and colors” to “a neat Assortment of plain and figur’d Silks,” an appeal to choice perhaps did not resonate with many local consumers.

Deblois deployed several of the most popular marketing strategies of the eighteenth century, but he was also savvy enough to realize that he needed to address the origins of the goods he attempted to sell to the residents of Boston and its hinterlands. He carried imported goods at the same time that colonists in Massachusetts and elsewhere had instituted non-importation agreements in response to both a continuing trade imbalance that benefited Britain and the imposition of new taxes on certain imported goods when the Townshend Act went into effect in late November 1767. In response, colonists resolved to encourage domestic production at every opportunity and purchase goods produced in North America whenever possible. Even if Deblois acquired his inventory prior to the non-importation pact going into effect at the beginning of the new year, his efforts to sell imported goods still violated the spirit, if not the letter, of the agreement. Deblois, a Loyalist who eventually evacuated Boston with the British in March 1776, attempted to chart a careful course in selling his goods in 1768. He sought to avoid alienating potential customers of any political leanings.

To that end, he offered reassurances to prospective customers, claiming that “it is his Design to keep a full Assortment of the above Goods for his Customers untill they can be supplied on better Terms from our own manufacturing Towns.” Deblois suggested that he wanted to support the boycotts as much as possible, but he also took a pragmatic approach. The colonies, he argued, were not quite ready to supply themselves with the array of goods they had grown accustomed to importing from London, Bristol, and other British cities. Until domestic manufactures could keep up with local demand, he provided an important service, but he also implied that he would stock merchandise “from our own manufacturing Towns” when it became available. In addition to absolving Deblois of deviating from the non-importation agreement, this strategy also gave potential customers permission to rationalize their decisions to continue acquiring imported goods from his shop. After all, they were all in it together, at least as much as they could be.

Did most consumers find this marketing strategy appealing or convincing? Whether they did or not, Deblois considered it necessary given the political implications of participating in commerce and consumer culture in January 1768. Despite his own political views, he catered as much as he could to prevailing sentiments in his efforts to move his merchandise.

Slavery Advertisements Published January 25, 1768

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

Jan 25 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 1
Boston-Gazette (January 25, 1768).

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Jan 25 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 2
Boston-Gazette (January 25, 1768).

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Jan 25 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 3
Boston-Gazette (January 25, 1768).

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Jan 25 - New-York Gazette Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 1
New-York Gazette: Or, the Weekly Post-Boy (January 25, 1768).

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Jan 25 - New-York Mercury Slavery 1
New-York Mercury (January 25, 1768).

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Jan 25 - New-York Mercury Slavery 2
New-York Mercury (January 25, 1768).

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Jan 25 - New-York Mercury Slavery 3
Supplement to the New-York Mercury (January 25, 1768).

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Jan 25 - New-York Mercury Slavery 4
Supplement to the New-York Mercury (January 25, 1768).

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Jan 25 - New-York Mercury Slavery 5
Supplement to the New-York Mercury (January 25, 1768).

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Jan 25 - New-York Mercury Slavery 6
Supplement to the New-York Mercury (January 25, 1768).

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Jan 25 - New-York Mercury Slavery 7
Supplement to the New-York Mercury (January 25, 1768).

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Jan 25 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 1
South Carolina Gazette (January 25, 1768).

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Jan 25 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 2
South Carolina Gazette (January 25, 1768).

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Jan 25 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 3
South Carolina Gazette (January 25, 1768).

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Jan 25 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 4
South Carolina Gazette (January 25, 1768).

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Jan 25 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 5
South Carolina Gazette (January 25, 1768).

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Jan 25 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 6
South Carolina Gazette (January 25, 1768).

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Jan 25 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 7
South Carolina Gazette (January 25, 1768).

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Jan 25 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 8
South Carolina Gazette (January 25, 1768).

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Jan 25 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 9
South Carolina Gazette (January 25, 1768).

January 24

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

Jan 24 - 1:21:1768 Pennsylvania Gazette
Pennsylvania Gazette (January 21, 1768).

“If any one lowers their price, I am determined to do so.”

Joseph Wood advertised a “large and neat assortment” of imported textiles in the January 21, 1768, edition of the Pennsylvania Gazette. Like many other merchants and shopkeepers throughout the colonies, he made an appeal to price, pledging to sell “as low as any imported into this province.” His competitors in Philadelphia and counterparts in other towns frequently deployed the same language, extending sweeping promises that they did indeed offer the lowest prices that customers would encounter. Wood, however, inserted an innovation intended to increase consumer trust in his claim: price matching. When it came to the same items of the same quality sold by others in the city, “if any one lowers their price, I am determined to do so too.” This flexibility demonstrated to readers that Wood recognized that prospective customers had many choices when it came to acquiring goods and that he was eager to make the necessary accommodations to attract their business in order to avoid losing them to competitors.

In addition to elaborating on some of the standardized language used by advertisers making appeals to price, Wood also enhanced the appeal to quality in his notice. He did not suggest that readers should take him at his word that the textiles he sold “are of the very best kind” or “the finest sort.” Instead, he acknowledged a practice adopted by some underhanded retailers, proclaiming that he did not similarly attempt to deceive his customers. His textiles had not been “high pressed and glazed to deceive the eye.” Their quality would “bear examination.” Inviting prospective customers to test his claims by examining these fabrics for themselves had the additional advantage of getting them through the door. Once they visited his shop at the corner of Market and Second Streets they would more fully appreciate the variety, price, and quality of his merchandise.

Wood combined a list-style advertisement that previewed his “very good assortment of cloths” with a nota bene that incorporated innovations on popular appeals that often relied on formulaic language. He sacrificed space that he might otherwise have devoted to further detailing his inventory in favor of clarifying the usual appeals to address the concerns of skeptical consumers.

January 23

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

Jan 23 - 1:23:1768 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (January 23, 1768).

“Three very compleat Stage-Boats, for the Carriage of GOODS and PASSENGERS.”

In the late 1760s, Thomas Lindsey and Benjamin Lindsey frequently advertised their ferry service or “STAGE-BOATS from Providence to Newport” in the Providence Gazette, sometimes directly competing with advertisements inserted by Joshua Hacker. That competition may have inspired the Lindseys to provide additional services and market them in their notices aimed at potential customers. In November 1767, Hacker had upstaged them when he published a list of prices and promoted several services he provided gratis, including storage of goods at his warehouse until they were ready for shipment. The Lindseys’ advertisement that ran at the same time much more briefly promised “excellent Accommodations for Passengers.”

In their subsequent advertisement, however, the Lindseys elaborated on the sort of experience travelers could expect on their “very compleat Stage-Boats.” As a convenience for their passengers, they “supply their Boats with Provisions and Liquors of all Kinds” to make the journey more enjoyable. Furthermore, they also pledged that “Passengers will be treated in the most genteel Manner.” In addition, the Lindseys augmented their schedule, sailing between Providence and Newport “every Day” instead of “twice a Week” as they had done just a couple of months earlier. In that regard, they now matched Hacker’s itinerary, making their schedule just as convenient for prospective clients. For customers who wished to ship commodities, they now offered “a convenient Store for the Reception of Goods, with Conveniences for weighing the same, at Arnold’s Wharff.” Again, their services matched those Hacker previously outlined in his advertisement.

The differences between the Lindseys’ advertisements published in November 1767 and January 1768 suggest that they determined that they needed to augment their services if they wanted to compete with Hacker. Yet improving their services was not sufficient: they also needed to market them in the public prints lest Hacker become the preferred carrier of passengers and goods between the two ports by default. They did not want potential clients to gain the impression Hacker offered superior services based on the more extensive advertising campaign he previously launched. The Lindseys may have considered their expanded services and expanded advertisement necessary to maintain and improve their position in the marketplace, especially if they felt they previously had been at a deficit that resulted from Hacker besting their advertisements with his own.

January 22

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

Jan 22 - 1:22:1768 New-London Gazette
New-London Gazette (January 22, 1768).

“CLEAN LINEN RAGS.”

Christopher Leffingwell used his advertisement in the January 22, 1768, edition of the New-London Gazette to promote the “Quantity of coarse and fine Writing, Printing and Wrapping PAPER” he manufactured, but he simultaneously issued a call for readers to supply him with the rags he needed to produce more paper. Purchasing and producing paper amounted to more than mere commerce. These were political acts in the wake of the Townshend Act imposing new duties on imported paper the previous November.

Leffingwell made that apparent. He described handing over rags to local paper manufacturers as “an entire Saving to the COUNTRY.” He opined that “every Friend and Lover” of America should deliberately and vigorously participate in such an endeavor. They should “readily save every Scrap,” including the smallest rags, that came into their possession with the intention of turning them over to him to be made into paper that would reduce the colony’s dependence on imported paper being taxed by Parliament. Leffingwell paid for the rags he received, acknowledging that “the Price given for them, may to some seem very small.” That attitude, he cautioned, did not recognize the greater purpose. By working together to bolster the production of paper in Connecticut, colonists contributed to “the whole Saving” that became “very considerable.” As Lessingwell “paid in Cash” for rags collected by his neighbors and, in turn, they purchased the paper he manufactured from those rags, they collectively advanced the local economy. They made their colony less dependent on goods imported from Britain while also avoiding sending local cash across the Atlantic as payment of the new taxes from the Townshend Act. Lessingwell’s decision to buy up as many rags as possible, laying out “£. 100 lawful Money” so far, had resulted in saving the same amount which “otherwise might have been entirely lost.” In return for his assistance to the economic welfare of the colony, he requested that readers reward him by continuing to supply him with rags as well as purchasing the paper those rags produced. Leffingwell provided a means for colonists of all backgrounds to engage in resistance to Parliament.

“If the People will furnish me with a sufficient Stock of fine white Rags (which they may easily do) it will enable me to supply them with as good Paper as is imported from Abroad, and as cheap,” Leffingwell proclaimed. Everyone benefited from this scenario. Paper and rags, production and consumption, all took on political significance as Leffingwell challenged colonists to consider the meanings attached to some of the most mundane items they encountered in their daily lives.