Slavery Advertisements Published August 8, 1769

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 8 - Essex Gazette Slavery 1
Essex Gazette (August 8, 1769).

One thought on “Slavery Advertisements Published August 8, 1769

  1. Thomas Jacques may have taken out the advertisement for his father, Richard, or himself. The West Parish minister, a Harvard graduate, had been paralyzed in 1764. In the years following, he had trouble obtaining financial support from his congregation. Later advertisements suggest that Titus lost part of his big toe to frost and here he is described as fleeing without shoes. But owners sometimes threatened to remove a digit to better identify a runaway or for punishment. Another advertisements from Gloucester describe a man missing the smallest finger of his left hand. Titus’ stuttering gives some indication of his suffering.

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