January 31

Who was the subject of an advertisement in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

New-Hampshire Gazette (January 31, 1772).

“TO BE SOLD A LIKELY Negro Woman.”

An advertisement in the January 31, 1772, edition of the New-Hampshire Gazette offered a “LIKELY Negro Woman” for sale.  Nothing about the advertisement distinguished it from similar advertisements published in newspapers from New England to Georgia in the era of the American Revolution.  Slavery was so ubiquitous, such a part of everyday life, throughout the colonies that such an advertisement did not look out of place to the readers of the New-Hampshire Gazetteany more than it would have for readers of the Maryland Gazette, the Virginia Gazette, the South-Carolina Gazette, or the Georgia Gazette.  Newspapers published in southern colonies certainly carried more advertisements about enslaved people, but they were not unique to that region.

The advertisement in the New-Hampshire Gazette provided few details about the “LIKELY Negro Woman.”  Instead, it directed interested parties to “Enquire of the Printers.”  Enslavers often adopted this approach in their advertisements, relying on printers to act as brokers in such transactions.  As a result, printers became implicated in the slave trade twice over, first through disseminating such advertisements and then through actively participating in sales of enslaved men, women, and children.  They did not need to be enslavers themselves to play an important role in perpetuating the slave trade.

Yet printers did more than facilitate sales.  They also published advertisements that described enslaved people who liberated themselves by escaping from their enslavers and offered rewards for their capture and return.  Such advertisements contributed to a culture of surveillance of Black people, encouraging readers to carefully scrutinize any Black person they encountered to determine if they matched the descriptions in the newspaper advertisements.

Each advertisement that printers published generated revenues that helped in making their newspapers viable enterprises.  Even as many printers critiqued the abuses perpetrated by Parliament and advocated for independence during the era of the American Revolution, they also published advertisements that perpetuated slavery.  Those advertisements underwrote the dissemination of news and editorials during the imperial crisis that culminated in the American Revolution.  Denied liberty for herself, the “LIKELY Negro Woman” advertised in the New-Hampshire Gazette played a part in the colonies achieving independence and establishing a new nation.

**********

For a more extensive chronicle of newspaper advertisements about enslaved people published during the era of the American Revolution, follow the Slavery Adverts 250 Project.

Slavery Advertisements Published January 31, 1772

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 about enslaved people – for sale as individuals or in groups, wanted to purchase or for hire for short periods, runaways who liberated themselves, and those who were subsequently captured and confined in jails and workhouses – 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 colonizers 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. Colonizers who did not purport to own enslaved people were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing enslaved men, women, and children or assisting in the capture of so-called “runaways” who sought to free themselves from bondage. 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 enslavers rather than enslaved people 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.

New-Hampshire Gazette (January 31, 1772).

January 30

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

Massachusetts Spy (January 30, 1772).

“The copartnership between HANNAH and HEPHZIBAH CARNES is mutually dissolved.”

For a time in the early 1770s, Hannah Carnes and Hephzibah Carnes operated a millinery shop together.  In December 1771, however, they “mutually dissolved” their partnership and set up their own businesses.  The former partners became competitors, both placing advertisements in the Boston-Gazette and the Massachusetts Spy.

Both women were conscious of the costs of advertising.  They placed their notices in only two of the five newspapers published in Boston at the time.  In addition, each of them listed some of the items available among the “large and compleat assortment of Millinery and piece Goods” in their shops, but also stated that their wares were “too numerous to particularize in an advertisement.”  Hannah went into greater detail in her advertisement, perhaps a necessity because Hephzibah remained in the shop “near the Town pump, in Cornhill,” and Hannah “removed to the shop opposite to Mr. Cranch Watch-Maker’s near the Mill Bridge.”  With Hephzibah having the advantage of a location already familiar to former customers, Hannah may have found it necessary to elaborate on the goods and services she offered as a means of catching the attention of “the Ladies” that she hoped would seek out her new shop.  Unlike Hephzibah, Hannah also mentioned that she sold “Bohea Tea” to entice prospective customers.

Their notices happened to appear one after the other on three occasions in the Massachusetts Spy, likely the result of happenstance rather than design on the part of the milliners.  Hannah launched her advertising campaign first, placing a notice in the Boston-Gazette on December 23, 1771.  It ran in that newspaper for five consecutive weeks.  Hephzibah also placed advertisements in the Boston-Gazette, starting on December 30, but only for three weeks.  On only one occasion, January 13, did their advertisements appear together.  Once again, Hannah may have invested in more advertising in order to direct customers to her new location.  Both women ran advertisements in the Massachusetts Spy on January 2, 9,16, and 30.  In that newspaper, their notices appeared together in all but the January 16 edition.  These variations suggest that compositors made decisions about the placement of the advertisements when they set the type for each issue.  Hannah and Hephzibah may not have appreciated their advertisements appearing in such close proximity, but advertisers exercised little control over where their notices appeared in eighteenth-century newspapers.

Slavery Advertisements Published January 30, 1772

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 about enslaved people – for sale as individuals or in groups, wanted to purchase or for hire for short periods, runaways who liberated themselves, and those who were subsequently captured and confined in jails and workhouses – 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 colonizers 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. Colonizers who did not purport to own enslaved people were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing enslaved men, women, and children or assisting in the capture of so-called “runaways” who sought to free themselves from bondage. 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 enslavers rather than enslaved people 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.

Maryland Gazette (January 30, 1772).

**********

Maryland Gazette (January 30, 1772).

**********

Maryland Gazette (January 30, 1772).

**********

Maryland Gazette (January 30, 1772).

**********

Maryland Gazette (January 30, 1772).

**********

Massachusetts Spy (January 30, 1772).

**********

New-York Journal (January 30, 1772).

**********

Pennsylvania Gazette (January 30, 1772).

**********

Pennsylvania Gazette (January 30, 1772).

**********

Pennsylvania Gazette (January 30, 1772).

**********

Pennsylvania Journal (January 30, 1772).

**********

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (January 30, 1772).

**********

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (January 30, 1772).

**********

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (January 30, 1772).

**********

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (January 30, 1772).

**********

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (January 30, 1772).

**********

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (January 30, 1772).

**********

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (January 30, 1772).

**********

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (January 30, 1772).

**********

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (January 30, 1772).

**********

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (January 30, 1772).

**********

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (January 30, 1772).

January 29

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

New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (January 27, 1772).

“The Magazines from January, 1771, to October, inclusive,” Rivington stated, “are likewise come to Hand.”

James Rivington and other American booksellers sold some books printed in the colonies, but imported most of their inventory.  In January 1772, Rivington ran an advertisement in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury to advise prospective that he had recently imported “Lilly’s Modern Entries, a new and correct Edition; Hawkins’s Pleas of the Crown, a new and improved Edition; Wood’s Conveyancer, a new Edition; … [and] a great Variety of other Books in Law, Physick, Divinity, Mathematicks.”  Rivington noted that “the Particulars will be given in a few Days,” signaling to readers that he intended to insert a lengthier advertisement that listed even more titles or perhaps even distribute a book catalog printed separately.

A manicule drew attention to a final note.  “The Magazines from January, 1771, to October, inclusive,” Rivington stated, “are likewise come to Hand.”  American printers published even fewer magazines than books prior to the American Revolution.  They attempted less than fifteen titles before 1775.  Most of those magazines folded in a year or less, though a couple did run for two or three years.  Some printers distributed subscription notices to incite interest, but ultimately had difficulty attracting sufficient subscribers (or advertisers) to make publishing their magazines viable ventures.

When American readers perused magazines prior to declaring independence, they read imported publications printed in London.  Given the time necessary to transport those magazines across the Atlantic, that meant that colonizers read magazines several months after they were published.  That being the case, Rivington’s advertisement for magazines published a year earlier in January 1771 did not offer outdated material.  In fact, the October editions were about as current as any magazines that American consumers purchased.  In addition, Rivington also understood what some customers did with magazines when they acquired them.  Magazines were not just for reading; they were also for display. Some readers collected a “volume” of magazines, usually editions spanning six months or a year, and had them bound together to resemble books.  Advertising magazines “from January, 1771, to October, inclusive,” let customers interested in collecting and displaying a complete run of a magazine that Rivington could supply them with all the issues they needed.  While it may seem strange to modern readers that Rivington advertised magazines published a year earlier, doing so made good sense in 1772 because it resonated with how consumers read and otherwise engaged with those monthly publications.

Happy Birthday, Mathew Carey!

Though Benjamin Franklin is often considered the patron saint of American advertising in the popular press, I believe that his efforts pale in comparison to the contributions made by Mathew Carey (1760-1839) in the final decades of the eighteenth century. Franklin is rightly credited with experimenting with the appearance of newspaper advertising, mixing font styles and sizes in the advertisements that helped to make him a prosperous printer, but Mathew Carey introduced and popularized an even broader assortment of advertising innovations, ranging from inventive appeals that targeted potential consumers to a variety of new media to networks for effectively distributing advertising materials. In the process, his efforts played an important role in the development of American capitalism by enlarging markets for the materials sold by printers, booksellers, and publishers as well as a host of other goods marketed by merchants, shopkeepers, and artisans who eventually adopted many of Carey’s innovative advertising methods. Mathew Carey will probably never displace Benjamin Franklin as the founder of American advertising in the popular imagination, but scholars of early American history and culture should recognize his role as the most important leader in eighteenth-century advertising among the many other activities and accomplishments of his long career in business and public life.

mathew_carey_by_john_neagle_1825
Mathew Carey (January 28, 1760 – September 16, 1839). Portrait by John Neagle, 1825. Library Company of Philadelphia.

Carey’s efforts as an advertiser were enmeshed within transatlantic networks of print and commerce. Though he did not invent the advertising wrapper printed on blue paper that accompanied magazines in the eighteenth century, he effectively utilized this medium to an extent not previously seen in America, Ireland, or the English provinces outside of London. The wrappers distributed with his American Museum (1787-1792) comprised the most extensive collection of advertising associated with any magazine published in North America in the eighteenth century, both in terms of the numbers of advertisements and the diversity of occupations represented in those advertisements. In Carey’s hands, the American Museum became a vehicle for distributing advertising media: inserts that included trade cards, subscription notices, testimonials, and book catalogues in addition to the wrappers themselves.

Located at the hub of a network of printers and booksellers, Carey advocated the use of a variety of advertising materials, some for consumption by the general public and others for use exclusively within the book trade. Subscription notices and book catalogues, for instance, could stimulate demand among potential customers, but exchange catalogues were intended for printers and booksellers to manage their inventory and enlarge their markets by trading surplus copies of books, pamphlets, and other printed goods. Working with members of this network also facilitated placing advertisements for new publications in the most popular newspapers published in distant towns and cities.

Carey also participated in the development of advertising appeals designed to stimulate demand among consumers in eighteenth-century America. He targeted specific readers by stressing the refinement associated with some of his publications, while simultaneously speaking to general audiences by emphasizing the patriotism and virtue associated with purchasing either books about American history, especially the events of the Revolution and the ratification of the Constitution, or books published in America. In his advertising, Carey invoked a patriotic politics of consumption that suggested that the success of the republican experiment depended not only on virtuous activity in the realm of politics but also on the decisions consumers made in the marketplace.

For my money, Carey is indeed the father of American advertising.  Happy 262nd birthday, Mathew Carey!

January 28

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

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 28, 1772).

“Those who are animated by the Wish of seeing Native Fabrications flourish in AMERICA.”

Robert Bell worked to create an American literary marketplace in the second half of the eighteenth century.  The flamboyant bookseller, publisher, and auctioneer commenced his efforts before the American Revolution, sponsoring the publication of American editions of popular titles that other booksellers imported.  His strategy included extensive advertising campaigns in newspapers published throughout the colonies.  He established a network of local agents, many of them printers, who inserted subscription notices in newspapers, accepted advance orders, and sold the books after they went to press.

Those subscription notices often featured identical copy from newspaper to newspaper.  For instance, Bell attempted to drum up interest in William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England in 1772.  Advertisements that appeared in the Providence Gazette, the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, and other newspapers all included a headline that proclaimed, “LITERATURE.”  Bell and his agents tailored the advertisements for local audiences, addressing the “Gentlemen of Rhode-Island” in the Providence Gazette and the “Gentlemen of SOUTH-CAROLINA” in the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal.  In each instance, though, they encouraged prospective subscribers to think of themselves as a much larger community of readers by extending the salutation to include “all of those who are animated by the Wish of seeing Native Fabrications flourish in AMERICA.”

Bell aimed to cultivate a community of American consumers, readers, and supporters of goods produced in the colonies, offering colonizers American editions of Blackstone’s Commentaries and other works “Printed on American Paper.”  Given the rate that printers reprinted items from one newspaper to another, readers already participated in communities of readers that extended from New England to Georgia, but Bell’s advertisements extended the experience beyond the news and into the advertisements.  He invited colonizers to further codify a unified community of geographically-dispersed readers and consumers who shared common interests when it came to both “LITERATURE” and “the Advancement” of domestic manufactures.  To do so, they needed to purchase his publications.

Slavery Advertisements Published January 28, 1772

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 about enslaved people – for sale as individuals or in groups, wanted to purchase or for hire for short periods, runaways who liberated themselves, and those who were subsequently captured and confined in jails and workhouses – 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 colonizers 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. Colonizers who did not purport to own enslaved people were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing enslaved men, women, and children or assisting in the capture of so-called “runaways” who sought to free themselves from bondage. 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 enslavers rather than enslaved people 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.

Essex Gazette (January 28, 1772).

**********

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 28, 1772).

**********

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 28, 1772).

**********

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 28, 1772).

**********

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 28, 1772).

**********

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 28, 1772).

**********

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 28, 1772).

**********

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 28, 1772).

January 27

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

Pennsylvania Packet (January 27, 1772).

“GEORGE BARTRAM’s WOOLLEN DRAPERY AND HOSIERY WAREHOUSE, At the Sign of the GOLDEN FLEECE’s HEAD.”

Much of the content of George Bartram’s advertisement in the January 27, 1772, edition of the Pennsylvania Packetresembled what appeared in notices placed by other merchants and shopkeepers.  Bartram informed prospective customers that he “Just imported … A very large Assortment” of textiles “from BRITAIN and IRELAND.”  He then listed a variety of fabrics to demonstrate the choices available to consumers.

In addition to providing an overview of his merchandise, Bartram deployed other means of making his business memorable.  For instance, he marked it with a sign that featured a distinctive device, advising prospective customers to visit “the Sign of the GOLDEN FLEECE’S HEAD” on Second Street.  Some colonial entrepreneurs used similar signs, but many did not.  Among the other advertisers in the January 27 edition of the Pennsylvania Packet, John Carnan, a jeweler, ran a shop “AT THE GOLDEN LION,” but Joseph Carson, Francis Hopkinson, William Miller, Alexander Power, John Sparhawk, Mary Symonds, and James Wallace did not mention signs that marked their locations.  Bartram further enhanced his advertisement with an image of a golden fleece’s head that may have replicated his shop sign.  Most advertisers who called attention to their signs did not make the additional investment in woodcuts.  Bartram apparently made the investment only once.  He ran an advertisement with the same copy, but no image, in the Pennsylvania Chronicle on the same day.

Bartram also gave his business a name, another marketing strategy adopted by relatively few advertisers in the eighteenth century.  Some merchants, shopkeepers, and artisans used their shop signs as the names for their businesses, but most advertisers did not give their businesses any sort of name.  Printers and booksellers were the most likely to name their businesses.  Although he did not have a sign with a distinctive device, Sparhawk called his shop the “LONDON BOOK-STORE” in his advertisement.  John Dunlap, printer of the Pennsylvania Packet, advertised books available at the “NEWEST PRINTING-OFFICE.”  Among advertisers from other occupations, Bartram distinguished his shop from others by calling it “GEORGE BARTRAM’s WOOLLEN DRAPERY AND HOSIERY WAREHOUSE, At the Sign of the GOLDEN FLEECE’s HEAD.”  He incorporated his own name, a sign, an image depicting that sign, and a name for his business into his advertisement, distinguishing it from others and making his endeavor more memorable.

Slavery Advertisements Published January 27, 1772

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 about enslaved people – for sale as individuals or in groups, wanted to purchase or for hire for short periods, runaways who liberated themselves, and those who were subsequently captured and confined in jails and workhouses – 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 colonizers 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. Colonizers who did not purport to own enslaved people were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing enslaved men, women, and children or assisting in the capture of so-called “runaways” who sought to free themselves from bondage. 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 enslavers rather than enslaved people 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.

Boston-Gazette (January 27, 1772).

**********

Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy (January 27, 1772).

**********

New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (January 27, 1772).

**********

Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (January 27, 1772).

**********

Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (January 27, 1772).

**********

Pennsylvania Chronicle (January 27, 1772).

**********

Pennsylvania Packet (January 27, 1772).