July 31

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

Jul 31 - 7:25:1768 Boston-Gazette
Boston-Gazette (July 25, 1768).

“A large Assortment of … GOODS.”

Frederick William Geyer advertised regularly in several of Boston’s newspapers in the late 1760s. The shopkeeper deployed a variety of strategies to promote his wares, including appeals to price and consumer choice. Both appeared in a notice he placed in the July 25, 1768, edition of the Boston-Gazette. In it, he announced that he had just imported a “large Assortment of English, India and Scotch Peice [sic] GOODS.” Not only did he proclaim that he offered low prices, he also asserted that he was “determined to sell … as cheap as can be bought in Parts of America.”

Geyer devoted more effort – and space – to developing an appeal to consumer choice. In addition to introducing his merchandise as a “large Assortment,” he reiterated the word “assortment” several times to describe particular kinds of items he sold: “A large assortment of Irish linens,” “An assortment of superfine, middling and low pric’d Broad Cloths,” “An assortment of Ribbons,” “A large assortment of plain and painted Ebony Fans,” “a very pretty assortment of black and coloured paddlestick Fans,” “A pretty assortment of plain & flower’d Lawns,” “A large assortment of white Threads,” “a large and neat Assortment of Mettle Buttons immediately from the Makers,” and “a large Assortment of Glass Necklaces.” These descriptions appeared among an extensive list that included hundreds of items in his inventory, indicating to prospective customers that he carried wares to suit practically any taste or budget.

The space that Geyer’s advertisement occupied on the page also played a role in communicating that message to consumers. It more than filled an entire column on the front page of the July 25 issue, spilling over into a second column. A competitor, William Gale, advertised his own “General Assortment of ENGLISH and INDIA GOODS” in a notice that appeared on the same page, but it looked paltry printed next to Geyer’s advertisement. Indeed, Gale’s entire notice was similar in length to the portion of Geyer’s advertisement that required an additional column. They may have carried similar merchandise, but the space on the page consumed by Geyer’s notice suggested that customers would encounter so much more when they visited his shop on Union Street. Twice the length of any other advertisement in the same issue, Geyer’s notice dominated the page, part of a strategy of overwhelming his competitors by vividly presenting prospective customers with the many choices he made available to them.

July 30

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

Jul 30 - 7:30:1768 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (July 30, 1768).

“SCHEME of a LOTTERY … for amending the Great North Road.”

As the “SCHEME of a LOTTERY” advertised in the Providence Gazette during the summer of 1768 indicates, colonists sometimes resorted to lotteries to fund public works. In this case the lottery supported plans for “amending the Great North Road leading from Providence to Plainfield.” At a meeting in June, Rhode Island’s legislature approved the lottery and appointed directors to oversee it. In turn, the directors published an advertisement outlining the purpose and the “scheme” of the lottery.

That scheme called for the sale of two thousand tickets at two dollars each. With 630 “fortunate tickets” and 1370 “Blank,” the “cheerful Adventurers” who purchased tickets had nearly a one-in-three chance of winning a prize.   Fifteen prizes were substantial: five each at one hundred, fifty, and twenty-five dollars. The 615 remaining prizes doubled the investment of the original price, paying out four dollars. This meant that the directors sought to collect $4000 and disburse $3335 in prizes, leaving $665 for “amending said Road, and defraying the extraordinary Charge of said Lottery.”

In addition to the prospects of winning one of the prizes, the directors also emphasized the “Good of the Public” derived from the project. They explained that “putting said Road in good Repair, will not only benefit the Inhabitants living on the Borders, but perhaps the greatest Number of Travellers that may have the Occasion to travel from any of the Northern to the Southern Colonies.” The repairs apparently included adjusting the route of the road, shortening the trip between Providence and New London by fourteen miles and between Boston and Hartford by ten miles. The directors believed that they did not need to provide further explanation of the benefits of making travel within and among the colonies easier. They anticipated that “the Advantages resulting from good Roads, will contribute towards a speedy Sale of the Tickets.”

Repairs would begin before the lottery took place, but only when “such a Number [of tickets] are sold as will give the Directors Assurance that the Lottery will be likely to fill.” The Providence Gazette would continue to play a role in informing both “Adventurers” and the general public about the lottery. The directors pledged to publish a notice once they scheduled the drawing so those with tickets “may have an Opportunity of being present.” In addition, the numbers of the winning tickets would be published in the Providence Gazette following the drawing.

The Great North Road served the public good. To keep it in good repair, the colonial legislature devised a lottery and appointed directors. Those directors then placed advertisements promoting both the lottery and the benefits of maintenance to the road. The public prints served the common good not only through the news and editorial items they disseminated but also through the information delivered through advertisements. This advertisement for a lottery, for instance, informed the public and presented them with an opportunity to participate in improving an important road that ran through the colony.

July 29

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

Jul 29 - 7:29:1768 New-Hampshire Gazette
New-Hampshire Gazette (July 29, 1768).

“RAGS taken in at the Printing Office, and good Sermons or other Pamphlets given as pay for them.”

Calls for rags regularly appeared in the pages of colonial newspapers, sometimes issued by printers and other times issued by proprietors of paper manufactories. Readers did not require any explanation that their used rags would be recycled into paper, perhaps even paper that would become issues of the very newspaper in which they encountered notices encouraging them to collect and contribute their rags.

Although they sometimes expected their fellow colonists to donate rags that had exceeded their usefulness, printers and papermakers often offered a variety of inducements to convince readers to send their rags. Sometimes they offered to pay cash. Other times they played on political sentiments, especially in the wake of the Stamp Act and the Townshend Act, noting that local production of paper decreased dependence on imported paper while simultaneously bolstering the local economy. The success of such endeavors depended not only on readers acting as consumers of that paper but also as providers of the necessary supplies.

In their brief advertisement in the July 29, 1768, edition of the New-Hampshire Gazette, printers Daniel Fowle and Robert Fowle took a different approach. They offered to barter: “RAGS taken in at the Printing Office, and good Sermons or other Pamphlets given as pay for them.” The Fowles did not elaborate on which sermons or other pamphlets they traded, but they likely considered this an opportunity to achieve two goals simultaneously. In the process of acquiring a commodity essential in producing paper they could also reduce their surplus stock of pamphlets that had not sold as well as they had hoped. Two weeks earlier Robert Fowle published a lengthy advertisement that listed dozens of books as well as “a very great variety of single Sermons and other Pamphlets.” If the printers could not convince colonists to purchase these wares then they might as well offer them in trade. Operating a printing office required such flexibility.

Slavery Advertisements Published July 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.

Jul 29 - New-Hampshire Gazette Slavery 1
New-Hampshire Gazette (July 29, 1768).

**********

Jul 29 - New-London Gazette Slavery 1
New-London Gazette (July 29, 1768).

**********

Jul 29 - South Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 1
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 29, 1768).

**********

Jul 29 - South Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 2
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 29, 1768).

**********

Jul 29 - South Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 3
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 29, 1768).

**********

Jul 29 - South Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 4
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 29, 1768).

**********

Jul 29 - South Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 5
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 29, 1768).

**********

Jul 29 - South Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 6
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 29, 1768).

**********

Jul 29 - South Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 7
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 29, 1768).

**********

Jul 29 - South Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 8
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 29, 1768).

**********

Jul 29 - South Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 9
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 29, 1768).

**********

Jul 29 - South Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 10
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 29, 1768).

**********

Jul 29 - South Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 11
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 29, 1768).

**********

Jul 29 - South Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 12
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 29, 1768).

July 28

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

Jul 28 - 7:28:1768 Boston Weekly News-Letter
Boston Weekly News-Letter (July 28, 1768).

“THERE is now opened … an Intelligence Office.”

In the summer of 1768 B. Leigh announced that he had opened “an Intelligence Office” at the Green Dragon Tavern in Boston. Rather than selling goods, Leigh traded in all sorts of information concerning local commerce. He offered to match “any Merchant, Masters of Vessels or others” with buyers for “any sort of Merchandize Goods, Vessels, Lands, Negroes or Servants.” Similarly, for those with “Vessels to Charter” or “Houses, Lands, Shops, Rooms or Lodgings” to rent, Leigh assisted in identifying potential tenants. He also introduced clients interested in borrowing and lending money. His services in that regard included drawing up agreements for both parties to sign. Although Leigh trucked in information, he assured prospective clients of his discretion when it came to borrowing and lending money. Finally, the “Intelligencer” provided employment services, introducing master artisans seeking assistance in their workshops to journeymen who needed jobs. Two shillings was the going rate for information at Leigh’s “Intelligence Office.”

Leigh traded many types of information that often appeared in advertisements. Colonists regularly advertised consumer goods, real estate, and servants and slaves for sale. They advertised vessels to charter and property to rent. Employment advertisements appeared frequently in the pages of colonial newspapers. Less often, colonists advertised that they sought to borrow or lend money, often doing so anonymously with instructions to “enquire of the printer.” Leigh demonstrated sound judgment in promising “the secret kept” when he facilitated such transactions.

Yet the “Intelligencer” did more than merely replicate the advertising pages of Boston’s newspapers. Advertisements of all sorts achieved their purpose only when the right audience read and acted on them. Leigh’s services left less to chance. He actively worked to match clients with particular needs with other clients who had complementary needs. In that regard, the “Intelligence Office” went a step beyond the printing office. Printers disseminated information widely. They also responded to direct inquiries that resulted from “enquire of the printer” advertisements. They did not, however, sift and collate the information that passed through their shops and flowed off their presses to target directly those most interested in specific opportunities offered in advertisements. Leigh offered an improvement over advertising, one that potentially left less to chance. Still, it depended on two parties with corresponding needs simultaneously seeking his services. Intelligence offices more efficiently managed the flow of information, but advertising made information more widely available. Both methods had advantages and shortcomings in the world of colonial commerce.

Summary of Slavery Advertisements Published July 22-28, 1768

These tables indicate how many advertisements for slaves appeared in colonial American newspapers during the week of July 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).

**********

Slavery Advertisements Published July 22-28, 1768:  By Date

Slavery Adverts Tables 1768 By Date Jul 22

**********

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

Slavery Adverts Tables 1768 By Region Jul 22

Slavery Advertisements Published July 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.

Jul 28 - Boston Weekly News-Letter Slavery 1
Boston Weekly News-Letter (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Boston Weekly News-Letter Slavery 2
Boston Weekly News-Letter (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Boston Weekly News-Letter Slavery 3
Boston Weekly News-Letter (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Massachusetts Gazette Draper Slavery 1
Massachusetts Gazette [Draper] (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Massachusetts Gazette Draper Slavery 2
Massachusetts Gazette [Draper] (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - New-York Journal Slavery 1
New-York Journal (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - New-York Journal Slavery 2
New-York Journal (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - New-York Journal Slavery 3
New-York Journal (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Gazette (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Pennsylvania Gazette Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Pennsylvania Gazette Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Pennsylvania Gazette Supplement Slavery 3
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Pennsylvania Journal Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Journal (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Pennsylvania Journal Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Journal (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Pennsylvania Journal Slavery 3
Pennsylvania Journal (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Pennsylvania Journal Slavery 4
Pennsylvania Journal (July 28, 1768).

**********

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

**********

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

**********

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

**********

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

**********

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

**********

Jul 28 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 6
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 7
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 8
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 9
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 5
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 6
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 7
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (July 28, 1768).

**********

Jul 28 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 8
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (July 28, 1768).