November 24

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

Nov 24 - 11:24:1768 Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (November 24, 1768).
“SUKEY HAMILTON, cook to the late Governor, with her youngest daughter.”

The name Sukey Hamilton, belonging to an enslaved woman of some repute, appeared among the advertisements in the November 24, 1768, editions of both Purdie and Dixon’s Virginia Gazette and William Rind’s Virginia Gazette. Despite variations in typography, identical copy appeared in the notices: “SUKEY HAMILTON, cook to the late Governor, with her youngest daughter, 7 years old, will be sold before Mr. Hay’s door on Thursday the 15th December next. Credit will be allowed for six months, bond and proper security being given.” Francis Fauquier, the lieutenant governor of the Virginia colony who had served as acting governor in the absence of the Earl of Loudon and Jeffrey Amherst for the past decade, had died at the beginning of March. Nine months later, representatives of his estate advertised the sale of his enslaved cook and one of her daughters to take place three weeks later.

Hamilton would bring her own qualifications to any household that purchased her. Prospective buyers likely recognized some cachet in acquiring the cook who formerly served the governor. Yet the notice offered more than just the skill and expertise that Hamilton would contribute to the kitchen. She was to be sold “with her youngest daughter. In Bound to the Fire: How Virginia’s Enslaved Cooks Helped Invent American Cuisine, Kelley Fanto Deetz that enslaved children were “valued with the cook” because they “helped in the kitchen and contributed to the production of meals.” Hamilton’s unnamed seven-year-old daughter likely performed tedious tasks, including picking stems and shucking corn. Over time, Hamilton likely taught her daughter to cook in an attempt to pass down her knowledge to the next generation. According to Deetz, the “practice of having their children working and living next to [enslaved cooks] … carried into the profits of slavery.”

Advertisements for enslaved men often touted their abilities as artisans or skilled laborers. In the same issue of Purdie and Dixon’s Virginia Gazette, for instance, another advertisement listed “two Negro men …, both of whom have been accustomed to attend a mill, and one of them is an extraordinary good cooper.” Many enslaved women, however, also possessed skills and expertise, even when their duties did not place them beyond the household. Their own abilities should not be overlooked merely because they undertook tasks traditionally considered women’s work. Preparing meals in an eighteenth-century kitchen, Deetz declares, “required skill, strength, and perseverance.”[1]

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[1] Kelley Fanto Deetz, Bound to the Fire: How Virginia’s Enslaved Cooks Helped Invent American Cuisine (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2017).

Slavery Advertisements Published November 24, 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.

During the week of November 18-24, 2018, the Slavery Adverts 250 Project is guest curated by Haley McCormick (2019), a History major at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

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

Nov 24 - Massachusetts Gazette Draper Slavery 1
Massachusetts Gazette [Draper] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Gazette (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Gazette (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 3
Pennsylvania Gazette (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Pennsylvania Gazette Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Pennsylvania Gazette Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - South-Carolina Gazette Extraordinary Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette Extraordinary (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 5
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 6
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 7
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 8
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 9
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 10
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 11
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 12
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 13
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 14
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 5
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 6
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 7
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 8
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 9
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 10
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 11
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 24, 1768).

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Nov 24 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 12
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 24, 1768).

November 23

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

Nov 23 - 11:23:1768 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (November 23, 1768).

“The stalls and stallages of the publick market of the town of Savannah.”

An advertisement in the November 23, 1768, edition of the Georgia Gazette bore the signature of “HUGH ROSS, C.M.” It was in his capacity as Clerk of the Market that he placed a notice addressing the operations of the stalls at Ellis Square, just a couple of blocks from the docks along the Savannah River. He gave “publick notice” to those who “have refused and neglected to pay their respective fees, rents, and arrears, due for the stalls and stallages” that they could expect legal action if they did not pay “before the first day of December next.” He also warned “sundry persons” who “for some time past have made a practice of lumbering” the Publick Wharf to removed their “staves, scantling, boards, shingles, &c.” to remove that lumber. Its accumulation had become a hindrance to “free and open recourse” to the market for the residents of Savannah.

According to Harold Davis, “the royal government created and regulated a public market” in the 1750s. Ross served as Clerk of the Market throughout most of its existence. That role included enforcing fair weights and measures in addition to collecting the fees owed by vendors who occupied the stalls. Davis notes that even though the “market theoretically was a place where all kinds of goods or provisions might be sold … in practice Georgians looked to it principally for vegetables, fruits, meats, poultry, and fish.” For residents of Savannah, it was “the most dependable place to buy fresh produce.”[1] The law allowed for anyone to buy or sell at the market, with the exception of free blacks and slaves. However, court records indicate that black vendors sometimes violated both that law and slave codes that made similar prohibitions.

The market became a significant landmark in Savannah. In its early years, a bell rang for five minutes at sunrise every day except Sunday to announce that the market was open for business. In 1764, the interval extended to fifteen minutes. Davis describes the market at Ellis Square as “sixty feet square with four little houses for truck at each corner. Stalls stretched from corner house to corner house.” One passage on each side allowed for entry into the enclosed square. A belfry at the center housed the bell. Ross’s notice would have conjured images of shopping at the market for readers of the Georgia Gazette, sights and sounds and perhaps even recollections of tastes and smells associated with the business conducted there.

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[1] Harold E. Davis, The Fledgling Province: Social and Culture Life in Colonial Georgia, 1733-1776 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1976), 69-70.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 23, 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.

During the week of November 18-24, 2018, the Slavery Adverts 250 Project is guest curated by Haley McCormick (2019), a History major at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

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

Nov 23 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 1
Georgia Gazette (November 23, 1768).

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Nov 23 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 2
Georgia Gazette (November 23, 1768).

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Nov 23 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 3
Georgia Gazette (November 23, 1768).

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Nov 23 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 4
Georgia Gazette (November 23, 1768).

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Nov 23 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 5
Georgia Gazette (November 23, 1768).

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Nov 23 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 6
Georgia Gazette (November 23, 1768).

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Nov 23 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 7
Georgia Gazette (November 23, 1768).

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Nov 23 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 8
Georgia Gazette (November 23, 1768).

 

November 22

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

Nov 22 - 11:22:1768 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 22, 1768).

“A negro fellow born in Jamaica, calls himself James Williams.”

An advertisement listing fugitive slaves who had been captured and “BROUGHT TO THE WORK-HOUSE” was a regular feature in newspapers published in South Carolina and Georgia in the late 1760s. The supplement that accompanied the November 22, 1768, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, for example, included an advertisement that described three such runaways: Belfast, a “new negro fellow” who “has the mark of a shot on his left thigh, which he said was done by his master,” Jenny, a “negro wench of the Angola country … of a yellow complexion, with very small breasts,” and James Williams, a “negro fellow born in Jamaica” who had been “branded on his right shoulder.” The notice indicated where each had been “taken up” before being delivered to the workhouse.

Other details hinted at more complete stories that each captured runaway could tell. That James Williams identified himself by both first and last name, for instance, was notable. He certainly had not adopted the surname of Thomas Wheeler of Kingston, the man who currently held him in bondage. What circumstances had prompted Williams to adopt that surname? What meaning did it hold for him? Which experiences had shaped his life and convinced him to seize an opportunity to make an escape? According to the notice, Williams had been “hired to one Davis, first Lieutenant of the Sterling-Castle,” but he ran away when the ship was at Cape Fear. In addition to the brand on his shoulder, he also had “the mark of a shot just below his left knee, which he says was done at the siege of the Havanna” near the end of the Seven Years War. The brief description of James Williams in the “BROUGHT TO THE WORK-HOUSE” notice was an incomplete narrative of his life, as was the case for both Belfast and Jenny.

These truncated narratives stood in stark contrast to the poem, “To LIBERTY,” printed immediately to the right. Charles Crouch, printer of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, presented one notion of liberty for his readers to consider as colonists grappled with their deteriorating relationship with Parliament. Probably quite inadvertently, Crouch provided a companion piece with the “BROUGHT TO THE WORK-HOUSE” notice. Most likely very few readers acknowledged the juxtaposition, in part because white narrators framed the experiences of runaway slaves. Given the opportunity to tell their own stories, Belfast, Jenny, and James Williams would have advanced their own understandings of liberty. Enslaved men, women, and children did not need poets or printers to teach them any lessons about what it meant to be free. Through the act of running away, they testified that they already understood.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 22, 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.

During the week of November 18-24, 2018, the Slavery Adverts 250 Project is guest curated by Haley McCormick (2019), a History major at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

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

Nov 22 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 22, 1768.)

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Nov 22 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 22, 1768.)

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Nov 22 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 22, 1768.)

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Nov 22 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 22, 1768.)

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Nov 22 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 22, 1768.)

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Nov 22 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 6
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 22, 1768.)

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Nov 22 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 7
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 22, 1768.)

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Nov 22 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 8
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 22, 1768.)

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Nov 22 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 9
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 22, 1768.)

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Nov 22 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 10
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 22, 1768.)

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Nov 22 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 11
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 22, 1768.)

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Nov 22 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 12
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 22, 1768.)

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Nov 22 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 22, 1768.)

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Nov 22 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 3
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 22, 1768).

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Nov 22 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 22, 1768.)

November 21

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

Nov 21 - 11:21:1768 Connecticut Courant
Supplement to the Connecticut Courant (November 21, 1768).

“Catalogue of BOOKS, just imported from LONDON.”

For three weeks in November 1768 the partnership of Lathrop and Smith placed a full-page advertisement in the Connecticut Courant. It first appeared in the November 7 issue and again on November 14 and 21. Although Lathrop and Smith described themselves as “Apothecaries in Hartford,” they published a “Catalogue of BOOKS, just imported from LONDON” in their advertisement, listing approximately 250 titles available at their shop. To help prospective customers identify books of particular interest, they organized them by genre: Divinity, Law, Physick, School Books, History, and Miscellany.

While not unknown in the late colonial period, full-page advertisements were rare. They merited attention due to their size and the expense incurred by the advertisers. Given that the standard issue of most newspapers consisted of four pages created by printing on both sides of a broadsheet and folding it in half, full-page advertisements dominated any issue in which they appeared, accounting for one-quarter of the content. That was the case the first two times Lathrop and Smith published their book catalog in the Connecticut Courant. For its third and final insertion it comprised the second page of a half sheet supplement devoted entirely to advertisements. That supplement brought the number of pages distributed to subscribers up to six for the week. Lathrop and Smith’s advertisement still accounted for a significant proportion of content placed before readers. Its size may have prompted the printers to resort to a supplement in order to make room for other content.

In addition to filling all three columns, the first insertion also featured a nota bene printed in the right margin. “N.B. Said Lathrop & Smith, have for Sale as usual,” it advised, “A great Variety of little Cheap Books for Children.—A Variety of Tragedies, Comedies, Operas, &c.—Writing Paper, Dutch Quills, Scales & Dividers, A Universal Assortment of Medicines and Painters Colours.—Choice Bohea Tea, Chocolate, Coffee, Spices, Loafsugar, Indico, &c. &c. &c.” The nota bene may have also appeared in the subsequent insertions, but decisions about preservation and digitization of the original issues made at various points since they first circulated in colonial America may have hidden the nota bene from view.

Separate issues of the Connecticut Courant have been bound into a single volume. As a result, the original fold of the newspaper has been incorporated into the binding. This means that the inside margins are partially or completely obscured. Recall that the nota bene for Lathrop and Smith’s advertisement appeared in the right margin. That is the outside margin for odd-numbered pages, but the inside margin for even-numbered pages. The advertisement appeared on the third page when it was first published on November 7, making the nota bene quite visible, even in the volume of newspapers bound together. On November 14, however, it appeared on the fourth page. On November 21, it appeared on the second page of the supplement. In both instances the nota bene, if it remained part of the advertisement, became part of the inner margin, the portion of the page given over to binding issues together. It is impossible to tell from the photographs that have been digitized if the nota bene survived into subsequent insertions. Examination of the originals might reveal traces or confirm that it disappeared.

As the image for this advertisement makes clear, working with surrogate sources – whether microfilm or digitized images – sometimes has its limitations. Questions that cannot be answered from such sources might be addressed with more certainty when examining originals. If the nota bene was indeed discontinued after the first insertion, that raises interesting questions about the reasons. Did Lathrop and Smith request its removal? Or did the printers choose to eliminate it? What might this instance tell us about the consultation that took place between printers who produced newspapers and advertisers who paid to have their notices included in them?

Slavery Advertisements Published November 21, 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.

During the week of November 18-24, 2018, the Slavery Adverts 250 Project is guest curated by Haley McCormick (2019), a History major at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

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

Nov 21 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 1
Boston Evening-Post (November 21, 1768).

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Nov 21 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 2
Boston Evening-Post (November 21, 1768).

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Nov 21 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 1
Boston-Gazette (November 21, 1768).

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Nov 21 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 2
Boston-Gazette (November 21, 1768).

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Nov 21 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 3
Boston-Gazette (November 21, 1768).

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Nov 21 - New-York Gazette Weekly Mercury Slavery 1
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 21, 1768).

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Nov 21 - New-York Gazette Weekly Mercury Slavery 2
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 21, 1768).

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Nov 21 - New-York Gazette Weekly Mercury Slavery 3
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 21, 1768).

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Nov 21 - New-York Gazette Weekly Mercury Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 21, 1768).

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Nov 21 - New-York Gazette Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 1
New-York Gazette: Or, the Weekly Post-Boy (November 21, 1768).

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Nov 21 - New-York Gazette Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 2
New-York Gazette: Or, the Weekly Post-Boy (November 21, 1768).

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Nov 21 - Newport Mercury Slavery 1
Newport Mercury (November 21, 1768).

November 20

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

Nov 20 - 11:17:1768 Pennsylvania Journal
Pennsylvania Journal (November 17, 1768).

“Will be presented, a Comedy called the JEALOUS WIFE.”

Resorting to creative typography, the compositor for the Pennsylvania Journal managed to squeeze two additional advertisements into the November 17, 1768, edition by running them in the outer margins of the second and third pages. Running the length of the page, one proclaimed, “To be sold by WILLIAM and THOMAS BRADFORD—–BOHEA TEA by the Chest; PEPPER in Bales; CONGO TEA in Canisters; FRONTINIACK in Bottles; And a few Firkins of LARD.” The other advised readers that “BY AUTHORITY. By the American Company, at the Theatre in Southwark, TOMORROW, being FRIDAY, will be presented, a Comedy called the JEALOUS WIFE. To which will be added, By Desire, a PANTOMIME ENTERTAINMENT.”

The placement of these advertisements likely increased their visibility by prompting curious readers to investigate what sort of content merited being printed in the margins. Rather than being easier to overlook because they did not appear in the regular columns with the rest of the content, these advertisements may have benefited from the novelty of their position on the page. The advertisement for grocery items sold by the Bradfords ran along a column of other advertisements, perhaps immediately suggesting that it was yet another commercial notice, but the advertisement for the performance at the theater in Southwark appeared on a page devoted exclusively to news. Some readers may have engaged with the advertisement to confirm whether it offered a continuation or clarification of any of the stories from Europe and elsewhere in the colonies printed on that page.

The length of these advertisements facilitated their placement in the margins, but another factor likely played a part in selecting the Bradfords’ notice for such treatment. The Bradfords were not merchants or shopkeepers. They were the printers of the Pennsylvania Journal. Reserving their advertisement for the margins did not indicate that its inclusion was an afterthought. Instead, it may have been a deliberate strategy to differentiate it from others in the issue. As printers, they exercised certain privileges when it came to the format of their newspaper. That enhanced their ability to participate in commercial activities beyond job printing and publishing the Pennsylvania Journal.

November 19

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

Nov 19 - 11:19:1768 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (November 19, 1768).

“To be Sold at the GOLDEN EAGLE.”

An advertisement that ran several times in the Providence Gazette in the fall of 1768 informed readers quite simply of “TAR, PITCH and TURPENTINE, to be Sold at the GOLDEN EAGLE.” The notice did not provide additional information about the location of the shop or the proprietor. In another advertisement inserted simultaneously, Joseph Russell and William Russell hawked a variety of hardware goods they carried “at their Store and Shop, the Sign of the Golden Eagle, near the Court-House, Providence.”

Other entrepreneurs who advertised in the Providence Gazette provided directions to aid prospective customers in finding their places of business. E. Thompson and Company stocked a variety of merchandise “At their STORE, near the Great Bridge.” Samuel Chaice also relied solely on a prominent landmark when he advised readers of the inventory “At his Store, just below the Great Bridge, in Providence.” Others deployed a combination of landmarks and shop signs. James Arnold and Company, for instance, promoted an assortment of goods available “At their STORE, the Sign of the GOLDEN FOX, near the Great Bridge.” Clark and Nightingale invited customers to visit them “At their Store, the Sign of the Fish and Frying-Pan, opposite Oliver Arnold’s, Esquire.” The colophon doubled as an advertisement for job printing done “by JOHN CARTER, at his PRINTING-OFFICE, the Sign of Shakespears Head.”

Those advertisements that included shop signs also developed a brand that identified the proprietors, though not necessarily their merchandise. The shop signs became sufficient identification for their enterprises, as was the case with the Russells’ advertisement that did not list their names but instead simply noted readers could purchase tar, pitch, and turpentine “at the GOLDEN EAGLE.” The Russells were among the most prominent merchants in Providence. They were also the most prolific advertisers in the Providence Gazette in the late 1760s. As a result, they did not need to provide their names or further directions in some of their advertisements. They trusted that the public was already familiar with the sign of the “GOLDEN EAGLE,” so familiar as to render any additional information superfluous. Their frequent advertisements aided in associating the image of the “GOLDEN EAGLE” with their business and their commercial identity.