April 30

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

Apr 30 - 4:30:1768 New-York Journal Supplement
Supplement to the New-York Journal (April 30, 1768).

“Each pot is sealed with his coat of arms, as in the margin of the directions, to prevent fraud.”

For quite some time John Baker, “SURGEON DENTIST,” had advertised his services to the better sorts and others and other residents of Boston in the newspapers published there, but in the spring of 1768 he migrated to New York and informed “the gentry” that “he will wait on receiving their commands.” He announced that he “cures the scurvy in the gums” and “makes artificial teeth,” just a few of the many aspects of dental hygiene and health he addressed in the lengthy notice he inserted in the New-York Journal.

In addition to those various services, the itinerant surgeon dentist also hawked a product that readers could purchase with or without undergoing any of the procedures he performed. A manicule drew attention to Baker’s “Dentrific … for preserving the teeth and gums.” Here Baker used an alternate spelling for “dentifrice,” a precursor to toothpaste described by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a powder or other preparation for rubbing or cleansing the teeth.” Baker provided “proper directions,” presumably a printed sheet or pamphlet, with each purchase.

He also realized the potential for counterfeits to circulate in a marketplace with little regulation of medicines. To that end, the inserted a nota bene to announce that “Each pot is sealed with his coat of arms, as in the margin of the directions, to prevent fraud.” Whether Baker actually anticipated spurious dentifrices attributed to him, this proclamation enhanced his marketing efforts. It implied that his dentifrice was so effective that others would indeed attempt to peddle substitutes that they passed off as authentic. It also allowed him to assert that he possessed his own coat of arms, which now doubled as a trademark to readily identify his product. Earlier in the advertisement he declared that he had provided his services “to the principal nobility, gentry, and others of Great-Britain, France, Ireland, and other principal Places in Europe.” Invoking his own coat of arms accentuated that claim, suggesting that his treatments were so effective that clients of means and influence had obtained his services and been satisfied with the results. As a newcomer to New York, Baker could not rely on a reputation built over time through extended interactions with local residents as a means of attracting new patients. Instead, he used his dentifrice, his coat of arms, and his own reports concerning his previous clients to achieve recognition and encourage prospective patients to engage his services in a new city.

April 29

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

Apr 29 - 4:29:1768 New-Hampshire Gazette
New-Hampshire Gazette (April 29, 1768).

“JUST PUBLISHED … LETTERS from a FARMER in PENNSYLVANIA.”

An advertisement for a pamphlet that collected together all twelve of John Dickinson’s “LETTERS from a FARMER in PENNSYLVANIA, to the INHABITANTS of the BRITISH COLONIES” ran for the second consecutive week in the April 29, 1768, edition of the New-Hampshire Gazette. Interested readers could purchase the pamphlet at the local printing office in Portsmouth or directly from Mein and Fleeming, the publishers, “at the LONDON BOOK STORE, North Side of King Street, BOSTON.”

The advertisement explained why readers should invest in the pamphlet: “Among the WRITERS in favour of the COLONIES, the FARMER shines unrivalled, for strength of Argument, Elegance of Diction, Knowledge in the Laws of Great Britain, and the true interest of the COLONIES.” Yet readers did not need to make decisions about purchasing the pamphlet solely on that recommendation. Daniel Fowle and Robert Fowle, the printers of the New-Hampshire Gazette, provided then with a preview of the pamphlet’s contents. “Letter XI” appeared in its entirety on the first and second pages of that edition. Similarly, “Letter X” occupied the first and final pages of the previous issue, the one in which the Fowles first published the advertisement for the pamphlet. Prospective buyers could read the Farmer’s arguments for themselves (as well as investigate the several notes he inserted to direct readers to the various sources he invoked). Examining one or two letters could convince some readers that they needed to acquire and study all of them in order to better understand the proper relationship between Parliament and the colonies at a time of general discontent with imperial policies.

Whether encountering an excerpt of another title at the end of a novel or the first chapter of a book available online, modern consumers are accustomed to publishers providing previews as a means of inciting interest in purchasing books. The Fowles adopted a similar strategy in the eighteenth century. They had been reprinting Dickinson’s “Letters” for many weeks, but as they reached the conclusion of the series the last several essays served dual purposes. In addition to disseminating news and editorial opinion, the final “Letters” also became advertisements for a publication stocked and sold by the printers of the newspaper that carried those essays.

Slavery Advertisements Published April 29, 1768

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonists encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by slaveholders rather than the slaves themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Apr 29 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 1
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 29, 1768).

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Apr 29 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 2
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 29, 1768).

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Apr 29 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 3
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 29, 1768).

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Apr 29 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 4
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 29, 1768).

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Apr 29 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 5
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 29, 1768).

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Apr 29 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 6
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 29, 1768).

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Apr 29 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 7
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 29, 1768).

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Apr 29 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 8
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 29, 1768).

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Apr 29 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 9
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 29, 1768).

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Apr 29 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 10
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 29, 1768).

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Apr 29 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 11
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 29, 1768).

April 28

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

Apr 28 - 4:28:1768 Pennsylvania Gazette
Pennsylvania Gazette (April 28, 1768).

“[The Particulars will be in our next.]”

Mary Symonds, a milliner who frequently advertised in Philadelphia’s newspapers, published a truncated advertisement in the April 28, 1768, edition of the Pennsylvania Gazette. In it, she announced that she sold “A VERY large and neat Assortment of MERCHANDIZE” at low prices. Unlike many eighteenth-century advertisements for imported goods, this one did not list the items for sale. Instead, it concluded with a note that announced, “[The Particulars will be in our next.]” Potential customers were invited to read the next issue to find out more about Symonds’s wares.

Although “our next” suggests an editorial note from the printer or compositor, perhaps for lack of space to insert the advertisement in its entirety, other evidence suggests that Symonds had not yet submitted the copy for a more extensive advertisement but instead wanted to attract as many customers as possible with an abbreviated version while whetting the appetites of other consumers who could not make it to her shop before publication of the next edition. Consider the advertisement Symonds ran in the Pennsylvania Chronicle three days earlier. It included identical copy, except for the note at the end. Instead, it said, “[The particulars will be in the next CHRONICLE.]” It seems unlikely that both newspapers would have been so short on space that they would have truncated the same advertisement. Symonds’s sister, Ann Pearson, also a milliner, included a similar note in her advertisement in the Chronicle: “[The particulars will be in our next.]” Both milliners likely stated that they would publish a more extensive advertisement the following week, but the printer selected the language.

Consider as well that both Symonds and Pearson advertised goods that had just been imported from London by Captain James Sparks on the Mary and Elizabeth. The shipping news in both the Chronicle and the Gazette indicated that vessel had arrived in port in the past week. The milliners may not have had an opportunity to unload or unpack their most recent shipment, but they did not want to wait an entire week to advertise their wares and potentially lose business to their competitors. Numerous merchants and shopkeepers ran advertisements about new inventory shipped via the Mary and Elizabeth, but few of them offered any “Particulars.” Isaac and Moses Bartram were among the few exceptions, listing dozens of items in their advertisement, but most others took the approaches of Mease and Miller (“A LARGE and neat assortment of European and East-India goods) or Hubley and Graff (”AN assortment of GOODS, suitable for the season”).

Symonds and Pearson attempted to claim their spots in the colonial marketplace alongside male competitors by adopting a similar strategy, yet they supplemented their advertisements with pledges to provide more information about their merchandise in the next edition. In so doing, they communicated a level of service and desire to address the needs of prospective customers not embodied in other advertisements. They did not merely rush their advertisements to press; they also anticipated that consumers would want more details and promised to deliver.

Summary of Slavery Advertisements Published April 22-28, 1768

These tables indicate how many advertisements for slaves appeared in colonial American newspapers during the week of April 22-28, 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 April 22-28, 1768:  By Date

Slavery Adverts Tables 1768 By Date Apr 22

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Slavery Advertisements Published April 22-28, 1768:  By Region

Slavery Adverts Tables 1768 By Region Apr 22

Slavery Advertisements Published April 28, 1768

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonists encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by slaveholders rather than the slaves themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Apr 28 - Massachusetts Gazette Slavery 1
Massachusetts Gazette (April 28, 1768).

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Apr 28 - New-York Journal Slavery 1
New-York Journal (April 28, 1768).

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Apr 28 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Gazette (April 28, 1768).

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Apr 28 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Gazette (April 28, 1768).

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Apr 28 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 3
Pennsylvania Gazette (April 28, 1768).

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Apr 28 - Pennsylvania Journal Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Journal (April 28, 1768).

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Apr 28 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (April 28, 1768).

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Apr 28 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (April 28, 1768).

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Apr 28 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (April 28, 1768).

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Apr 28 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (April 28, 1768).

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Apr 28 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 5
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (April 28, 1768).

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Apr 28 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (April 28, 1768).

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Apr 28 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (April 28, 1768).

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Apr 28 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (April 28, 1768).

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Apr 28 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (April 28, 1768).

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Apr 28 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 5
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (April 28, 1768).

April 27

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

Apr 27 - 4:27:1768 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (April 27, 1768).

“The proposal made in the letter published against me in your last.”

When last we saw Lachlan McGillivray and John Joachim Zubly the rivals had composed such extensive advertisements accusing each other of misconduct in their real estate enterprises and interactions with one another that James Johnston published a supplement to the Georgia Gazette that consisted entirely of their dispute. Zubly had concluded his lengthy retort by stating, “Nothing shall ever be wanting on my part to shew that with a me a law-suit was not a matter of choice, but painful necessity; and whatever you may think or say of me, or do against me, I shall be glad of every opportunity to approve myself your real wel[l] wisher, till then I bid you right heartily FAREWELL.”

Yet it was not time for farewell quite yet. Two weeks after the supplement carried all three advertisements so far published by the adversaries, McGillivray inserted yet another notice in the April 20, 1768, edition of the Georgia Gazette. He could not pass up responding to Zubly’s “very elaborate performance.” Indeed, Zubly’s most recent advertisement had extended more than a page (or one-quarter of the length of a standard issue of the newspaper that carried it). McGillivrary described Zubly’s “very elaborate performance” as “such a piece of scurrility, (truly worthy of the author)” that it “does not deserve an answer in the Gazette.” Yet McGillivray published a response that extended more than half a column, not for his own benefit but in order to defend the reputation of McGillivray’s associate (who had so far declined to inject himself into the argument unfolding among the advertisements in the Georgia Gazette). McGillivray concluded his newest public missive by echoing Zubly: “I will thank you for your kind wishes when I think them sincere. In my turn bid you farewell.”

Having previously “bid you right heartily FAREWELL” to McGillivray, Zubly chose not to engage him directly when he decided to publish yet another advertisement. He could not let the notice from April 20 pass unremarked, but he addressed his new response to “Mr. Printer” and made an appeal to readers of the Georgia Gazette to review the series of advertisements and judge for themselves that he was the aggrieved party who had been abused by McGillivray. He ended his advertisement by returning to the real estate dispute that had launched the entire exchange, issuing instructions that he “forbids all persons to trespass on or plant any of his lands, especially those on Augustin’s Creek.”

This exchange was a windfall for James Johnston, the printer of the Georgia Gazette. At the very least, it generated significant advertising revenue that supported the newspaper, but it may have yielded other benefits. Readers who had no stake in the real estate dispute may have been entertained, amused, or infuriated by the antics of McGillivray and Zubly as their dispute played out in a series of advertisements. As a result, readers may have anticipated new issues to find out what happened next. Non-subscribers may have made greater efforts to obtain copies of the new issues in hopes of encountering more advertisements that prolonged the feud. In the process, they would have been exposed to the remainder of the news and advertising, benefiting both the printer and the advertisers. McGillivray and Zubly produced their own serial in the middle of the eighteenth century.

Apr 27 - 4:20:1768 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (April 20, 1768).

Slavery Advertisements Published April 27, 1768

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonists encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by slaveholders rather than the slaves themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Apr 27 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 1
Georgia Gazette (April 27, 1768).

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Apr 27 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 2
Georgia Gazette (April 27, 1768).

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Apr 27 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 3
Georgia Gazette (April 27, 1768).

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Apr 27 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 4
Georgia Gazette (April 27, 1768).

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Apr 27 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 5
Georgia Gazette (April 27, 1768).

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Apr 27 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 6
Georgia Gazette (April 27, 1768).

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Apr 27 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 7
Georgia Gazette (April 27, 1768).

April 26

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

Apr 26 - 4:26:1768 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 26, 1768).

“He entreats a Continuation of Messrs. DAVID and JOHN DEAS’s Customers.”

Andrew Lord launched a new enterprise in the spring of 1768, at least an enterprise that was new to him. He took to the pages of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journalto announce that he had “bought out Messrs. DAVID and JOHN DEAS, and taken the Stores and house lately occupied by them.”  He planned to sell all of the merchandise already on hand, pledging to part with it “very low.”  Prospective customers enjoyed bargain prices as the new proprietor attempted to clear out the existing inventory.

In addition to inviting new patrons to his store, Lord hoped to invoke loyalty among customers who already shopped there when it still belonged to the previous owners:  “He entreats a Continuation of Messrs. DAVID and JOHN DEAS’s Customers.”  This was not loyalty to the purveyors of goods but rather loyalty to the goods themselves.  Lord implied that since the Deas’s former customers appreciated the wares they had previously purchased that they would continue to be satisfied as they selected among the inventory he had obtained.  He much more explicitly, however, invited the Deas’s customers to give him a chance to demonstrate that he could serve them just as well as the former proprietors had done.  He stressed that “he expects a compleat Assortment of GOODS by the first Vessels from London and Bristol,” an assortment that he believed maintained the standards that customers had come to anticipate when making purchases in the store he now operated.

The existing clientele may have factored into Lord’s decision to acquire a shop and inventory owned by two of Charleston’s most prominent merchants and slave traders.  According to his advertisement, he certainly hoped that familiarity with the location and merchandise would convince previous patrons to continue making purchases at the same store, especially since he offered low prices and an extensive selection.  The proprietor had changed, but other aspects of the business remained the same.  Accordingly, there was no need to seek out other vendors, at least not without first giving Lord the opportunity to demonstrate that customers would not experience any disruption in the experience they had come to expect when shopping at that store.

Slavery Advertisements Published April 26, 1768

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonists encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by slaveholders rather than the slaves themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Apr 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 26, 1768).

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Apr 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 26, 1768).

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Apr 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 26, 1768).

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Apr 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 26, 1768).

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Apr 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 26, 1768).

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Apr 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 6
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 26, 1768).

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Apr 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 7
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 26, 1768).

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Apr 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 8
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 26, 1768).

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

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Apr 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 10
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 26, 1768).

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Apr 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 11
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 26, 1768).

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Apr 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 12
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 26, 1768).

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Apr 26 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 13
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 26, 1768).