What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“The above Goods were imported before the Merchants Agreement.”
John Nazro sold a variety of goods at his shop in Boston. In an advertisement in the June 25, 1770, edition of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy, he listed dozens of items, mostly textiles and accessories to adorn garments. He concluded the notice with a nota bene directing prospective customers and the entire community to take note that it “may be depended upon” that “the above Goods were imported before the Merchants Agreement.” In so doing, Nazro acknowledged that the nonimportation agreement was still in effect, at least in Boston.
Word of the repeal of the Townshend duties on imported goods, with the exception of tea, had arrived in the colonies in May. Almost immediately, merchants in New York abandoned their nonimportation agreement, eager to resume trade. The agreements in Boston and Philadelphia, however, continued throughout the summer; some merchants in those cities hoped to continue to use economic leverage to exert influence over British imperial policy. They unsuccessfully attempted to convince their peers to extend the nonimportation agreement. In September, Philadelphia followed New York. By the end of October, merchants in Boston also voted to resume trade with Britain, even as some still wished to arrange a meeting with their counterparts in other cities.
As debates about resuming trade took place in Boston, Nazro proclaimed that he abided by the nonimportation agreement. Some readers of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy might have interpreted that a form of encouragement for continuing the agreement. At the very least, Nazro sought to demonstrate to the community that even in those uncertain times he followed the pact that had been adopted and not yet formally dissolved. He took his cue from the community of merchants in his city, not the actions of Parliament in repealing most of the Townshend duties or the merchants in New York who so quickly returned to business as usual. Nazro suggested that customers could feel confident making purchases at his shop because neither he nor they deviated from the nonimportation agreement still in place in Boston.