April 5

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

Apr 5 - 4:5:1770 Pennsylvania Gazette
Pennsylvania Gazette (April 5, 1770).

“A real good INK.”

When it came to opposing the taxes inflicted on the American colonies by Parliament, every small act of resistance mattered.  That was the message that Benjamin Jackson delivered in a lengthy nota bene to his advertisement for “New invented PHILADELPHIA INK-POWDER” in the April 5, 1770, edition of the Pennsylvania Gazette.  Jackson participated in a movement to encourage “domestic manufactures,” goods produced in the colonies as alternatives to items imported from Britain.  This movement gained popularity at the same time as American merchants and traders signed nonimportation agreements in response to the duties placed on imported paper, glass, paint, and tea in the Townshend Acts, hoping to leverage their commercial power to achieve political goals.

“As all our American manufactures (tho’ ever so small),” Jackson proclaimed, “are attended with obvious good consequences to the British colonies in general” consumers had a duty to purchase his ink powder even “tho’ it is but a trifling manufacture.”  He suggested that small and repeated acts of resistance would amount to a bold collective statement.  Furthermore, “some of the chief ingredients of this excellent Ink-Powder, are the produce of this continent.”  Not only did Jackson manufacture his ink powder locally, he also acquired many of the materials he needed from domestic suppliers.  His enterprise had ripple effects that benefited producers and consumers alike.  Like many others who advertised domestic manufactures, Jackson also assured prospective customers that they need not sacrifice quality nor pay premiums for their political principles.  He asserted that he sold his ink powder “as cheap as the European can be imported, and will engage it superior to that in quality.”  In addition to substituting for goods no longer shipped across the Atlantic, domestic manufactures addressed a trade imbalance between Britain and the colonies that resulted in a scarcity of specie circulating in the colonies.  Jackson noted that buying his product would “help to keep and circulate money amongst us.”

Jackson made various arguments in favor of his ink powder, developing a sophisticated “Buy American” marketing campaign before the American Revolution.  Yet his efforts were not themselves innovative.  He joined a chorus or producers and retailers who increasingly encouraged American consumers to choose domestic manufactures in the late 1760s and early 1770s.

Slavery Advertisements Published April 5, 1770

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 5 1770 - Maryland Gazette Slavery 1
Maryland Gazette (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - Maryland Gazette Slavery 2
Maryland Gazette (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - Maryland Gazette Slavery 3
Maryland Gazette (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - Maryland Gazette Slavery 4
Maryland Gazette (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - New-York Journal Slavery 1
New-York Journal (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Gazette (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Gazette (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - Pennsylvania Journal Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Journal (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - Pennsylvania Journal Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Journal (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Supplement Slavery 3
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Supplement Slavery 4
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Supplement Slavery 5
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Supplement Slavery 6
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Supplement Slavery 7
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Supplement Slavery 8
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Supplement Slavery 9
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Supplement Slavery 10
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Supplement Slavery 11
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Supplement Slavery 12
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 5
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 6
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (April 5, 1770).

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Apr 5 1770 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (April 5, 1770).

April 4

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

Apr 4 - 4:4:1770 South-Carolina Gazette Supplement
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (April 4, 1770).

SHIP-CHANDLERY.”

William Price deployed typography to attract attention to his advertisement for “BEST Bridport CANVAS, and sundry other Articles” in the April 4, 1770, supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette.  A decorative border surrounded the headline for his advertisement, “SHIP-CHANDLERY,” making it one of only two advertisements in the supplement with that additional flourish.  The other announced “SALES by the Provost-Marshal,” an advertisement that was also a regular feature in the South-Carolina Gazette.  Its headline often appeared within a decorative border, which may have given Price the idea for enhancing his advertisement.  All of this suggests that Price made arrangements with the printer or compositor to spruce up his notice, though most advertisers merely supplied copy and left format to those who labored in the printing office.  Price may not have specified which printing ornaments should enclose his headline, but he most likely did offer some direction about the visual composition of his advertisement.

The border provided visual variation in a newspaper that consisted almost entirely of text.  Some advertisements included different fonts and font sizes to draw attention, as did Price’s notice, but consistencies among them suggest that compositors made such decisions, not advertisers.  Very few visual images appeared in eighteenth-century newspapers.  In the April 4 supplement, woodcuts accompanied only five of the thirty-five advertisements.  Three of those were real estate notices, two with woodcuts depicting a house and one with a woodcut showing a tree and a field.  An advertisement about a stray horse had a woodcut of a horse.  An advertisement describing an enslaved man who escaped featured a crude woodcut of a dark-skinned person that conflated characteristics associated with Africans and indigenous Americans.  All of those woodcuts belonged to the printer, as did woodcuts of ships at sea.  Price could have chosen one of those, but they were usually associated with vessels seeking freight and passengers, not ship chandlers looking to outfit ships before they departed from port.  He could have commissioned a woodcut depicting his merchandise, but he may not have considered that worth the expense, especially if he did not suspect that canvas or cordage would translate well via that medium.

The border that enclosed “SALES by the Provost-Marshal” and decorative type often used to separate “New Advertisements,” “Advertisements,” and, sometimes, news items from the content that appeared immediately above it suggested an alternative to prospective advertisers who wanted some sort of visual component in their notices.  As they perused the pages of the South-Carolina Gazette they encountered various means of creating a distinctive format for their advertisements even when they consisted almost entirely of text.  The pages of eighteenth-century newspapers may look fairly uniform to twenty-first-century eyes, but contemporary readers surely noticed the many variations in type, especially in the advertisements.

Slavery Advertisements Published April 4, 1770

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 4 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 1
Georgia Gazette (April 4, 1770).

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Apr 4 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 2
Georgia Gazette (April 4, 1770).

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Apr 4 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 3
Georgia Gazette (April 4, 1770).

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Apr 4 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 4
Georgia Gazette (April 4, 1770).

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Apr 4 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 5
Georgia Gazette (April 4, 1770).

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Apr 4 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 6
Georgia Gazette (April 4, 1770).

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Apr 4 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 7
Georgia Gazette (April 4, 1770).

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Apr 4 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 8
Georgia Gazette (April 4, 1770).

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Apr 4 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 9
Georgia Gazette (April 4, 1770).

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Apr 4 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 10
Georgia Gazette (April 4, 1770).

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Apr 4 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette Gazette (April 4, 1770).

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Apr 4 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette Gazette (April 4, 1770).

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Apr 4 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Supplement Slavery 3
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette Gazette (April 4, 1770).

April 3

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

Apr 3 - 4:3:1770 Essex Gazette
Essex Gazette (April 3, 1770).

“(None of which have been imported since the Year 1768.)”

When it came to infusing his advertisements for consumer goods with politics, Nathan Frazier was consistent while the nonimportation agreements were in effect in the late 1760s and early 1770s.  On September 26, 1769, he placed an advertisement in the Essex Gazette to inform prospective customers that he sold “a very good assortment of Fall and Winter GOODS, (a single article of which has not been imported since last year).”  He did not explicitly invoke the nonimportation agreement, but the significance would have been clear to readers.

Six months later, Frazier once again advertised in the Essex Gazette, proclaiming that he “HAS still lying on Hand, a great Variety of saleable Articles, suitable for all Seasons, more especially for that now approaching.”  He listed dozens of items available for purchase at his shop, demonstrating the range of consumer choice.  For that array of goods, he assured both prospective customers and the entire community that “none … have been imported since the Year 1768.”  Again, he did not make direct reference to the nonimportation agreements adopted by merchants in Boston and other towns throughout Massachusetts, but that was hardly necessary for readers to understand his point.

After all, news items that appeared elsewhere in the same issue underscored that colonists continued their boycott of goods imported from Britain to protest the duties levied on certain goods by the Townshend Acts.  On the page facing Frazier’s advertisement, for instance, an “Extract of a Letter from Bristol, Dec. 30,” reported, “The Ministry have assured some Persons in the American Trade, that so far as the King’s servants can promote the Repeal of the Duties on Tea, Paper, Glass and Paints, they will, so that the Spring Trade to the Colonies shall not be lost.”  The nonimportation agreements had not yet achieved their desired effect, but this extract inspired hope that if the colonists remained firm that they would eventually prevail.  Moreover, their success might come quickly in order to avoid disrupting the “Spring Trade.”

A news item that began on the facing page and concluded on the same page as Frazier’s advertisement also commented on the nonimportation agreements:  “It will perhaps be surprizing to the People of the neighbouring Provinces to be told, that there is not above one Seller of Tea in the Town of Boston who has not signed an Agreement not to dispose of any more of that Article, until the late Revenue Acts are repealed.”  Other news items also commented on tensions with Britain, though not the nonimportation agreements specifically.  A “LIST of Toasts drank at Newport … on the Commemoration of the Repeal of the Stamp-Act” asserted “the Principles of Civil and Religious Liberty” and remembered the “massacred martyrs to British and American Liberty” at the recent Boston Massacre.

That was the context in which Frazier inserted his advertisement for consumer goods in the Essex Gazette in the spring of 1770.  He did not need to comment at length on the politics of the day.  Instead, a brief note that he had not imported goods “since the Year 1768” told readers what they needed to know about the political significance of purchasing merchandise from his shop.

Slavery Advertisements Published April 3, 1770

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 3 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 3, 1770).

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Apr 3 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 3, 1770).

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Apr 3 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 3, 1770).

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Apr 3 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 3, 1770).

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Apr 3 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 3, 1770).

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Apr 3 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 6
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 3, 1770).

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Apr 3 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 7
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 3, 1770).

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Apr 3 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 8
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 3, 1770).

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Apr 3 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 9
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 3, 1770).

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Apr 3 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 10
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 3, 1770).

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Apr 3 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 11
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 3, 1770).

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Apr 3 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 12
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 3, 1770).

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Apr 3 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 13
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 3, 1770).

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Apr 3 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 14
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 3, 1770).

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Apr 3 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 15
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 3, 1770).

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Apr 3 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 16
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 3, 1770).

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Apr 3 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 3, 1770).

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Apr 3 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 3, 1770).

April 2

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

Apr 2 - 4:2:1770 Boston-Gazette
Boston-Gazette (April 2, 1770).

“An Original Print, representing the late horrid Massacre in King Street.”

Although Paul Revere’s engraving is more famous, Henry Pelham also produced a print depicting the Boston Massacre shortly after the event took place.  He marketed his engraving, The Fruits of Arbitrary Power, in the April 2, 1770, editions of the Boston Evening-Post and the Boston-Gazette, a week after Revere promoted his Bloody Massacre in those same newspapers.  The Boston Massacre occurred on March 5, so both men moved quickly to make a visual representation of the event available for public consumption.  Revere offered his print for sale just three weeks after soldiers from the 29th Regiment shot into a crowd, wounding several colonists.  Some died of their wounds on the spot; others died soon after.  By the time Revere and Pelham marketed their prints, five colonists had died.

Many consumers may have thought that Pelham’s Fruits of Arbitrary Power closely resembled Revere’s Bloody Massacre, but the opposite was actually the case.  Pelham shared his drawing with Revere, then expressed dismay that his fellow engraver moved forward with his own print based on the drawing and beat Pelham to market by a week.  Their advertisements also resembled each other, neither of them particularly flashy considering the products they presented to consumers.  Pelham’s advertisement simply stated, “To be Sold by EDES and GILL and T. and J. FLEET, (Price Eight Pence) The Fruits of Arbitrary Power, an Original Print, representing the late horrid Massacre in King Street, taken from the Spot.”  (The version in the Boston Evening-Post switched the order of the printers who sold the print.  Each partnership gave itself top billing.). In stating that Fruits of Arbitrary Power was “an Original Print,” Pelham took a swipe at Revere and attempted to set the record straight.

Perhaps neither Revere nor Pelham considered it necessary to devise flashy advertisements for their competing prints.  After all, the Boston Massacre occurred only weeks earlier.  It received extensive newspaper coverage, including descriptions of the funeral procession honoring the victims.  Coverage continued as Boston prepared for a trial of Captain Thomas Preston and soldiers from the 29th Regiment.  Beyond the several newspapers printed in the busy port, the Boston Massacre was surely the talk of the town.  Neither the engravers who produced the prints nor the printers who sold them needed to explain their significance beyond noting that they depicted the “horrid Massacre” and offering brief commentary.  The title of Pelham’s engraving, The Fruits of Arbitrary Power, summed up the political calculus of the event.  He apparently considered that sufficient to convince consumers that they needed to acquire his memento of the Boston Massacre.  Consumption played a vital role in commemoration.

Slavery Advertisements Published April 2, 1770

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 2 1770 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 1
Boston Evening-Post (April 2, 1770).

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Apr 2 1770 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 2
Boston Evening-Post (April 2, 1770).

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Apr 2 1770 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 1
Boston-Gazette (April 2, 1770).

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Apr 2 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 1
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 2, 1770).

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Apr 2 1770 - New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 1
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (April 2, 1770).

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Apr 2 1770 - New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 2
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (April 2, 1770).

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Apr 2 1770 - New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 3
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (April 2, 1770).

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Apr 2 1770 - New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 4
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (April 2, 1770).

April 1

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

Apr 1 - 3:29:1770 South-Carolina Gazette
South-Carolina Gazette (March 29, 1770).

“ASSORTMENT of GOODS, Agreeable to the RESOLUTIONS.”

The partnership of Smith and Atkinson informed consumers in and around Boston that they stocked “A small Assortment of English Goods, (imported before the late Agreements of the Merchants)” in an advertisement in the March 29, 1770, edition of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter.  On the same day, James McCall took to the pages of the South-Carolina Gazette to announce that he carried an “ASSORTMENT of GOODS” imported in the Sea Venturefrom Bristol “Agreeable to the RESOLUTIONS.”  This marketing strategy was less common in the newspapers published in Charleston than in Boston, but not unknown.

In both cities, purveyors of goods believed that asserting that they acquired their goods according to the terms of nonimportation agreements adopted in protest of import duties Parliament imposed on paper, glass, lead, paint, and tea would incite demand.  They offered colonists the opportunity to continue participating in the consumer revolution without violating the political principles that inspired the “RESOLUTIONS” or the “late Agreements.”  Yet their newspaper notices did more than reassure prospective customers.  McCall intended to safeguard his own reputation, as did Smith and Atkinson.  They wanted all readers and, by extension, the entire community to know that they abided by the nonimportation agreements.  Making such declarations not only amounted to good business sense but also aided in maintaining their status and relationships.

In Charleston and Boston, both advertisers and prospective customers spoke a common language of consumption that was inflected with politics.  T.H. Breen makes in this argument in The Marketplace of Revolution:  How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence.  At the nexus of consumer culture and print culture, newspaper advertisements for consumer goods and services played an important role in developing and propagating the language of consumption.  This yielded what Benedict Anderson termed imagined communities – communities of readers and communities of consumers – that made colonists in faraway places like Boston and Charleston feel as though they shared a common identity.

March 31

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

Mar 31 - 3:31:1770 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (March 31, 1770).

We have neither Time nor Room for any Extracts.”

Several advertisements ran at the bottom of the final column on the third page of the March 31, 1770, edition of the Providence Gazette, concluding with a notice from the printer:  “A New-York Paper, which came to Hand before the Publication of this Day’s Gazette, contains addresses of both Houses of Parliament to the King, and some London Articles to the 13th of January; but we have neither Time nor Room for any Extracts.”  This notice reveals quite a bit about the production and dissemination of the news in eighteenth-century America.

First, it alludes to the widespread practice of reprinting articles, letters, and editorials from one newspaper to another.  John Carter, the printer of the Providence Gazette, indicated that he planned to publish “Extracts” from the other newspaper, but often printers copied important or interesting items in their entirety.  Sometimes they credited their sources; other times they did not.  Either way, printers often tended to edit or compile news from other publications instead of producing new content.

Carter’s notice also testifies to the production of newspapers as material objects, not just amalgamations of ideas.  Each weekly edition of the Providence Gazette took the form of a four-page issue, the standard for colonial newspapers prior to the American Revolution.  Each copy consisted of a single broadsheet with two pages printed on each side and then folded in half to produce a four-page newspaper.  This usually meant that the first and last pages were printed first and then the second and third pages later.  The position of Carter’s notice as the last item in the last column on the third page suggests that it was the final item added by the compositor before taking the issue to press.  Carter asserted that he did not have “Room for any Extracts,” indicating that the front page had been printed and the type already set for the remaining pages.  In stating that he also did not have time to insert extracts, the printer explained why he could not make substitutions for some of the material on the second and third pages as well as why he did not produce a supplement to accompany the issue.

Finally, Carter’s notice served as an advertisement for the newspaper itself.  The printer previewed the contents for the following week, enticing readers to return to read extracts or possibly even the entire “addresses of both Houses of Parliament to the King” as well as articles drawn from the London press by way of a “New-York Paper.”  In general, Carter’s notice evokes images of a busy printing office at the Sign of Shakespeare’s Head in Providence.