August 31

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

Aug 31 - 8:31:1768 Pennsylvania Chronicle Postscript
Postscript to the Pennsylvania Chronicle (August 31, 1768).

“James Gordon Is removed from his store in Third-street.”

When he moved his shop from Third Street to Chestnut Street in the summer of 1768, James Gordon placed an advertisement in the Pennsylvania Chronicle to advise former and prospective customers where to acquire the array of goods he offered for sale. One insertion of his advertisement did not, however, appear in a standard issue distributed on Mondays, nor in a supplement that accompanied such an issue. Instead, Gordon’s advertisement and a handful of others appeared in a Postscript to the Pennsylvania Chronicle published on Wednesday, August 31. The Pennsylvania Chronicle was usually a counterpoint to the Pennsylvania Gazette and the Pennsylvania Journal, both distributed on Thursday, but subscribers and other readers gained access to this special issue just a day before the publication of the other two newspapers printed in Philadelphia.

William Goddard, the printer of the Pennsylvania Chronicle, explained the purpose of distributing the Postscript midway between issues instead of keeping to the usual schedule. “By the Earl of Halifax, arrived at New-York, from Falmouth, we have the following fresh Advices,” Goddard trumpeted, “which we now issue out in an extraordinary Half Sheet, as a Proof that we have as good Intelligence as our vigilant Neighbours, and are as willing to exert ourselves in the Service of the Public.” In other words, when it came to reporting the news from abroad the Pennsylvania Chronicle had the connections to keep its readers informed in a timely manner. That newspaper’s efforts rivaled those of its local competitors, both of which had been established for much longer. Indeed, by issuing the Postscript Goddard scooped the Gazette. The following day Hall and Sellers issued a Postscript to the Pennsylvania Gazette (in addition to the regular issue and the advertising supplement that usually accompanied it) that delivered the same news received “By the JULY PACKET, arrived at New-York from Falmouth.” That special edition also carried several advertisements.

Goddard issued the Postscript not only to keep readers informed but also to promote his newspaper. He hoped to increase circulation and, in turn, revenues from subscriptions and advertising. Compared to the Gazette and the Journal, the Chronicle carried fewer advertisements, but Goddard knew that he could attract more advertisers, like James Gordon, by increasing distribution. Prospective advertisers would be more willing to make that investment if the Chronicle increased its readership. Goddard’s note introducing the special edition was directed to advertisers as much as to readers.

Slavery Advertisements Published August 31, 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.

Aug 31 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 1
Georgia Gazette (August 31, 1768).

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Aug 31 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 2
Georgia Gazette (August 31, 1768).

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Aug 31 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 3
Georgia Gazette (August 31, 1768).

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Aug 31 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 4
Georgia Gazette (August 31, 1768).

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Aug 31 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 5
Georgia Gazette (August 31, 1768).

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Aug 31 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 6
Georgia Gazette (August 31, 1768).

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Aug 31 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 7
Georgia Gazette (August 31, 1768).

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Aug 31 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 8
Georgia Gazette (August 31, 1768).

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Aug 31 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 1
Postscript to the Pennsylvania Chronicle (August 31, 1768).

August 30

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

Aug 30 - 8:30:1768 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 30, 1768).

“REBECCA WRIGHT, SOLE-DEALER, MILLINER, from LONDON.”

Late in the summer of 1768, Rebecca Wright, a “MILLINER, from LONDON,” took to the pages of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal to announce that she intended to open her own shop on King Street in Charleston. She informed prospective customers that she pursued “the MILLINARY BUSINESS in all its branches, in the genteelest taste.” In just a few words, Wright commented on her abilities to pursue her trade and her attention to current fashions. In those regards the appeals in her advertisement paralleled some of the most common appeals deployed by artisans throughout the eighteenth century. Her notice, however, deviated from those placed by other artisans in once significant manner: the headline.

For most artisans, their name alone served as the headline for their advertisements. Their occupation or trade appeared as a secondary headline. Such was the case in other advertisements that ran in the same column as Wright’s notice. These included “JAMES OLIPHANT, JEWELLER, in Broad-street, next door to the Post-office,” “JOHN LORD, CARVER and GILDER,” and “THOMAS COLEMAN, UPHOLSTERER and PAPER-HANGER.” The headline for Wright’s advertisement had an additional element, identifying her as a “SOLE-DEALER” before listing her occupation as a secondary headline. What did this designation mean?

Laws replicating the English practice of coverture were in place throughout the colonies. Such laws negated the separate legal identity of married women. This certainly had ramifications for women in business. As the Elizabeth Murray Project explains, “Most legal arrangements, such as contracts, were considered to be the husband’s sole right and responsibility. … If [a wife] were able to enter into contracts on her own, she could ultimately be held liable in ways that might deprive a husband of services to which he had first claim.” Wives who ran their own businesses did so under the authority of their husbands, who were legally responsible for the debts incurred and other commercial activities of their entrepreneurial wives. Only Pennsylvania and South Carolina passed feme sole trader statutes that enabled married women to participate in the marketplace on their own behalf, separating their legal identity from husbands when it came to business.

Wright proclaimed that this was case with her millinery shop. The headline of her advertisement announced that she operated her business on her own, that she (not her husband) was ultimately responsible for making contracts, paying debts, suing for payment, and any other legal actions necessary for its operation. This advertisement – along with one placed by “FRANCES SWALLOW, SOLE DEALER,” on the same page – testifies to the commercial independence that some married women managed to achieve even in an age when coverture was the common practice.

Slavery Advertisements Published August 30, 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.

Aug 30 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 30, 1768).

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Aug 30 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 30, 1768).

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Aug 30 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 30, 1768).

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Aug 30 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 30, 1768).

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Aug 30 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 30, 1768).

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Aug 30 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 3
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 30, 1768).

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Aug 30 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 4
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 30, 1768).

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Aug 30 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 5
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 30, 1768).

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Aug 30 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 6
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (August 30, 1768).

August 29

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

Aug 29 - 8:29:1768 New-York Gazette Weekly Mercury
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (August 29, 1768).

“Many other Articles too tedious to mention.”

In a brief notice in the August 29, 1768, edition of the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, William Moor advertised “a great Number of School Books” as well as “A large Assortment of Bibles, Testaments, Psalm Books, Psalters and Primers, with a great Variety of other Books on Law, Physick, and Divinity.” In addition, he stocked “a large Assortment of Saddles, Carpets, and many other Articles too tedious to mention.”

That Moor designated some of his merchandise “too tedious to mention” rather than publishing an extensive list of goods (an alternate strategy adopted by several other retailers whose advertisements appeared on the same page) had the unintended effect of influencing the placement of his advertisement in that issue. Moor’s entire notice extended only eight lines, making it short enough that the compositor could divide it into columns of four lines each, both printed perpendicular to the rest of the content on the page.

Compositors sometimes deployed this strategy as a means of squeezing more items, especially paid advertisements, into current issues rather then delay publication until the following week. Even though a two-page supplement devoted entirely to advertising accompanied this particular issue, it did not offer space to insert all of the advertising. Not so much remained to justify adding an additional page to the supplement. Instead, the compositor looked to the margins.

The standard issue consisted of four pages, each with three columns. The compositor converted the outer margin, away from the fold, of the first, third, and fourth pages into advertising space by dividing short notices into multiple columns of no more than four lines each and then positioning them perpendicular to the columns that ran the length of the page. In addition to Moor’s advertisement on the fourth page, a sixteen-line advertisement for a runaway servant appeared on the first page, divided into four columns of four lines each and positioned along the outer margin to the right of the masthead and essay that comprised the rest of the page. A bankruptcy notice, eight lines divided into four columns, ran in the outer margin of the third page. A short estate notice divided into two columns ran alongside Moor’s advertisement on the fourth page.

Moor likely had no choice concerning the unusual placement of his advertisement in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury. All the same, the compositor’s efforts to find more space for paid notices may have served Moor’s interests by producing the unconventional format since readers may have been especially curious to see what sorts of items had been consigned to the margins. Rather than becoming marginal, the advertisements in the margins may have evoked additional notice.

Slavery Advertisements Published August 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.

Aug 29 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 1
Boston Evening-Post (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - Boston Post-Boy Slavery 1
Boston Post-Boy (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - Boston Post-Boy Slavery 2
Boston Post-Boy (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - Boston Post-Boy Slavery 3
Boston Post-Boy (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 1
Boston-Gazette (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 2
Boston-Gazette (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - Massachusetts Gazette Slavery 1
Massachusetts Gazette [Green and Russell] (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - New-York Gazette Weekly Mercury Slavery 1
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - New-York Gazette Weekly Mercury Slavery 2
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - New-York Gazette Weekly Mercury Slavery 3
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - New-York Gazette Weekly Mercury Slavery 4
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - New-York Gazette Weekly Mercury Slavery 5
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - New-York Gazette Weekly Mercury Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - New-York Gazette Weekly Mercury Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - New-York Gazette Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 1
New-York Gazette: Or, the Weekly Post-Boy (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - Newport Mercury Slavery 1
Newport Mercury (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - Newport Mercury Slavery 2
Newport Mercury (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - Newport Mercury Slavery 3
Newport Mercury (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Chronicle (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Chronicle (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 3
Pennsylvania Chronicle (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 6
South-Carolina Gazette (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 7
South-Carolina Gazette (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 8
South-Carolina Gazette (August 29, 1768).

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Aug 29 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 9
South-Carolina Gazette (August 29, 1768).

August 28

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

Aug 28 - 8:25:1768 Pennsylvania Gazette
Pennsylvania Gazette (August 25, 1768).

“Those Gentlemen who incline to take Copies, will leave their Names with THOMAS FOXCROFT.”

Alexander Purdie and John Dixon, the printers of the Virginia Gazette, regularly inserted notices in their own newspaper, yet they also understood the colonial book trade well enough that they did not limit their advertisements to their own publication, especially not when attempting to incite interest in a major new project from their press. During the summer of 1768 Purdie and Dixon set about publishing “A COMPLETE Revisal of all the VIRGINIA ACTS OF ASSEMBLY now in Force and Use.”

To aid in generating sufficient revenues to make this book a viable venture, Purdie and Dixon inserted a short subscription notice in the Pennsylvania Gazette, counting on learned men in the largest port city in the colonies to purchase copies for their libraries. They likely also calculated that the extensive distribution of the Pennsylvania Gazette would set their announcement before the eyes of many more potential customers throughout the mid-Atlantic revion and beyond. The placement of their subscription notice – among the many other advertisements in the August 25 issue rather than as an announcement adjacent to the news items – suggests that the printers or their local agent paid for its insertion; its appearance was not an in-kind courtesy by the printers of the Pennsylvania Gazette.

That being the case, Purdie and Dixon’s subscription notice occupied significantly less space than they could have allotted for themselves in their own publication. They briefly outlined the publication scheme, including the material aspects of the book: “a large Folio Volume, of about 600 Pages, neatly bound in Calf, and lettered, printed upon a new Type, and fine Paper.” In addition, they also indicated the cost: “the Price to Subscribers Forty Shillings Virginia Currency.” The publishers then invited “those Gentlemen who incline to take Copies” to contact their local agent in Philadelphia, “THOMAS FOXCROFT, at the Post-Office.” At some later time Foxcroft would send a list of subscribers to Purdie and Dixon at their printing office in Williamsburg.

Like many other printers and publishers in eighteenth-century America, Purdie and Dixon did not rely solely on local markets to support their major initiatives, not even when the publication under consideration seemed of interest primarily to residents of their own colony. Purdie and Dixon realized that lawyers, legislators, and a variety of other consumers would be interested in a new edition of the laws currently enacted in the Virginia colony. A small investment in advertising to them could significantly improve the prospects of a successful venture for the book.