Slavery Advertisements Published January 22, 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.

Jan 22 1770 - Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy Slavery 1
Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy (January 22, 1770).

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Jan 22 1770 - Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy Slavery 2
Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy (January 22, 1770).

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Jan 22 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 1
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (January 22, 1770).

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Jan 22 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 2
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (January 22, 1770).

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Jan 22 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 3
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (January 22, 1770).

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Jan 22 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 4
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (January 22, 1770).

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Jan 22 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 5
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (January 22, 1770).

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Jan 22 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 6
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (January 22, 1770).

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Jan 22 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 7
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (January 22, 1770).

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Jan 22 1770 - New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 1
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (January 22, 1770).

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Jan 22 1770 - New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 2
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (January 22, 1770).

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Jan 22 1770 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Chronicle (January 22, 1770).

One thought on “Slavery Advertisements Published January 22, 1770

  1. There may have been more people sold at public auction than the advertisements indicate. For example, one Boston advertisement for a a public auction of well-known Gloucester man’s estate does not mention that there are people for sale. However within the estate probate, the list of auction prices paid for possessions at the Gloucester tavern include four enslaved people. Their names and the prices received are buried in a section of the auction results. Did arrangements for a private sale fall through? Did readers understand the imperative not to alarm literate or well-connected enslaved people of an impending sale?

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