What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“The regular and speedy Delivery of their Papers.”
In the 1770s, the Providence Gazette served as the local newspaper for many readers in the northeastern region of Connecticut as well as northern Rhode Island. An advertisement that ran in the October 6, 1770, edition outlined the route that Joseph Rickard, a former postrider, took from Providence to several towns in Connecticut. Joseph Jewet and Elijah Nichols intended to assume Rickard’s responsibilities, informing the public, “particularly the Customers to the PROVIDENCE GAZETTE,” that they now carried letters and newspapers to Killingly, Pomfret, Woodstock, and Ashford.
In their attempt to build their clientele, Jewet and Nichols offered improvements over the service that Rickard provided. They pledged the “greatest Attention will be paid to the regular and speedy Delivery of the Papers” in order that “Customers may receive them earlier than usual.” The masthead of the Providence Gazette proclaimed that it contained “the freshest ADVICES, Foreign and Domestic.” That “speedy Delivery” enhanced the careful selection of contents and the speed that the printer took news to press, putting “the freshest Intelligence” in the hands of subscribers and other readers in northeastern Connecticut. Jewet and Nichols also indicated that they would “extend their weekly Ride to other Towns” if they encountered sufficient demand.
John Carter, the printer of the Providence Gazette, gave Jewet and Nichols’s advertisement a privileged place. It was the first advertisement that appeared in the October 6 edition, running immediately below the list of prices current in Providence. Readers more interested in news than advertising were more likely to peruse Jewet and Nichols’s notice as a result of where the printer chose to place it on the page. Carter had his own interest in the success of the postriders’ endeavor. Reliable and speedy delivery to northeastern Connecticut meant that he could maintain and possibly even expand the number of subscribers in that region. Success for Jewet and Nichols meant better prospects for Carter and the Providence Gazette.