January 26

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

New-York Journal (January 23, 1772).

“The newest and neatest manner, either in the French or English taste.”

When John Burcket, a “Stay and Riding Habit-maker,” arrived in New York, he placed an advertisement in the New-York Journal to offer his services to the “ladies of this city.”  Like many other artisans who migrated across the Atlantic, he informed prospective clients where he had previously lived and worked, hoping to bolster his reputation among those who had not yet had an opportunity to examine the garments that he made.

In Burcket’s case, he proclaimed that he “lately arrived from London and Paris,” but did not mention where he had been most recently or how long he spent in either city.  What mattered more to him (and what he hoped mattered more to the ladies that he hoped to entice to his shop) was that his connections to two such cosmopolitan cities gave him greater knowledge of the current tastes and styles in both of them.  Burcket proclaimed that made stays (or corsets) and riding habits “in the newest and neatest manner, either in the French or English taste.”  This signaled that he did more than merely produce the garments; he also served as a guide for his clients, keeping them up to date on the latest trends and giving them advice.

Burcket buttressed such appeals with other promises intended to draw prospective clients into his shop.  He pledged that they “may depend on being punctually served.”  In addition to such customer service, Burcket aimed to achieve “utmost satisfaction” among his clients, hoping that “meriting their esteem” would lead to word-of-mouth recommendations.  He was also conscious of the prices he set, stating that he made and sold stays and riding habits “as cheap as can be imported.”  His clients did not have to pay a premium for consultations with an artisan “lately arrived from London and Paris.”  Even as he incorporated several marketing strategies into his notice, he made his connections to those cities the centerpiece of his introduction to the ladies of New York.

January 25

GUEST CURATOR:  Mike Butkus

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

South-Carolina Gazette (January 25, 1772).

“RUN AWAY … A Negro Man, named SAUL … and a [Woman] named CHARLOTTE, with a Male Child.”

This advertisement is interesting because it shows us how slave owners viewed their slaves during the era of the American Revolution. The advertiser gave physical descriptions of Saul and Charlotte.  He also mentioned that Saul spoke “very proper English,” making a distinction between him and the many slaves criticized for not speaking “proper English.” The advertiser uses the term “wench” to describe Charlotte. That the dehumanization of female slaves specifically.

This advertisement also included details about Saul and Charlotte’s experiences.  They did not escape on their own.  They took their baby, “a Male Child … about eight Months old,” with them.  This may have been the determining factor for them to “RUN AWAY” from the advertiser. They probably did not want their baby to grow up to the same fate that they did.

The rewards for Saul, Charlotte, and their baby are also interesting.  The amount offered for Saul was ten pounds, while Charlotte and the child were together listed at ten pounds. It makes sense that Saul had a higher reward than Charlotte because he had a valuable skill.  He was a cooper, a barrel maker, and Charlotte was a seamstress.  Saul’s skill was probably more lucrative for the advertiser, even though she was “an extraordinary seamstress.”

According to Arlene Balkansky, “The vast majority of those who escaped or attempted to escape enslavement in America were never well-known.”  Instead, the “only record we have for many are fugitive slave ads,” like this one for Saul, Charlotte, and their baby.

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:  Carl Robert Keyes

Mike and his fellow guest curators in my Revolutionary America class had several responsibilities.  Each of them compiled a digital archive of newspapers from a particular week in 1772, examined those newspapers to identify advertisements that belong in the Slavery Adverts 250 Project, composed the tweets distributed via the project’s Twitter feed, and wrote an essay about what they learned about slavery in the era of the American Revolution from the work they did as guest curators.  In addition, each guest curator selected an advertisement to feature on the Adverts 250 Project.  Most chose advertisements for consumer goods and services, but I also approved advertisements about enslaved men, women, and children.

Doing so gave guest curators like Mike an opportunity to examine one advertisement in greater detail than was possible in the tweet about that advertisement.  Mike composed tweets for more than sixty advertisements, but each tweet was limited to 280 characters.  Each had to include the tagline that explained one of the purposes of the project (“Colonial newspapers contributed to the perpetuation of slavery”), an illustrative quotation, and a citation that listed the newspaper and date.  The length of the tagline and citations (especially for advertisements from newspapers with longer titles) required Mike and other guest curators to select the most salient details to include in the quotations, but that also meant that they could not include everything of significance.

In choosing this advertisement about Saul, Charlotte, and their child to feature on the Adverts 250 Project, Mike had an opportunity to examine their experiences in greater depth.  He noted some of the aspects of Saul and Charlotte’s experience that consistently appeared in advertisements about enslaved people who liberated themselves published in the eighteenth century.  Enslavers often commented on linguistic ability, as the advertiser did in noting that Saul spoke “very proper English.”  Advertisements about enslaved people also document that they possessed a variety of skills and pursued all sorts of occupations.  Saul and Charlotte, a cooper and a seamstress, were not unique; newspaper advertisements reveal that countless enslaved men and women pursued occupations far beyond agricultural labor.  Perhaps most importantly, these advertisements provide glimpses of how enslaved men and women thought about their experiences, though that certainly was not the intention of the enslavers who placed these notices.  As Mike notes, offering their child a life outside the confines of bondage may have convinced Saul and Charlotte to liberate themselves when they did.

Welcome, Guest Curator Mike Butkus

Michael Butkus is a senior at Assumption University in Worcester, Massachusetts.  He is majoring in Economics with a minor in History. He plays on the tennis team at Assumption. Prior to attending Assumption University, he attended South High School in Worcester, where he played football, basketball, and tennis. Mike enjoys sports, both playing them and watching professional sports.  He made his contributions to the Adverts 250 Project and the Slavery Adverts 250 Project while enrolled in HIS 359 Revolutionary America, 1763-1815, in Fall 2021.

Welcome, guest curator Mike Butkus!

Slavery Advertisements Published January 25, 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.

Continuation of the South-Carolina Gazette (January 25, 1772).

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Continuation of the South-Carolina Gazette (January 25, 1772).

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Continuation of the South-Carolina Gazette (January 25, 1772).

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Continuation of the South-Carolina Gazette (January 25, 1772).

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Continuation of the South-Carolina Gazette (January 25, 1772).

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Continuation of the South-Carolina Gazette (January 25, 1772).

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Continuation of the South-Carolina Gazette (January 25, 1772).

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Continuation of the South-Carolina Gazette (January 25, 1772).

January 24

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

Connecticut Journal (January 24, 1772).

“Garnet topaz amethyst and emeral’d ring stones.”

Abel Buell, a goldsmith in New Haven, placed advertisements in the Connecticut Journal to promote his business in the early 1770s.  He made brief appeals to quality and price, pledging that his wares were “all of the best sort” and that he sold them “very reasonably,” but he devoted much more space to listing his merchandise.  Advertisers throughout the colonies often did so, demonstrating the range of choices available to consumers.

Yet that was not the only purpose of publishing such lists.  Advertisers also sought to help prospective customers imagine the possibilities, hoping that would entice them to make more purchases.  Buell, for instance, could have simply stated that he had on hand a variety of jewelry certain to satisfy the tastes who visited his shop.  Instead, he listed “ROUND, square and oval cypher’d button cristals with cyphers, cypher’d and brilliant ear-ring tops and drops, round oval and square brilliant button stones, paste ear-ring tops and drops, cypher’d and brilliant paste for buttons, garnet topaz amethyst and emeral’d ring stones, mock garnets for rings and buttons, [and] garnet cristal and paste ring sparks,” along with other items.

That list served as Buell’s catalog.  Each entry introduced prospective customers to yet another item they might acquire. As readers perused the list, they likely imagined themselves wearing many of the items.  Buell intended for the list to cultivate desire for various buttons, earrings, stones, and other jewelry as consumers made quick decisions whether they might wear each item.  In many cases, they may not have given much thought to certain items until presented with the possibilities that Buell described.  Offering choices, such as “garnet topaz amethyst and emeral’d ring stones,” encouraged prospective customers to imagine which they desired the most, which might look best on them, or which complemented other items they already owned.  That likely brought consumers one step closer to making purchases.  Buell probably intended for his list to make the possibilities more vivid and more tangible to prospective customers who could be convinced to make purchases with a little bit of encouragement.

January 23

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

Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (January 23, 1772).

Most of these Papers will, probably, be irrecoverably lost in a few Years, unless preserved by Printing.”

On behalf of posterity, printers and consumers in Massachusetts worked to preserve documents that told the story of the colony.  In 1769, Thomas Fleet and John Fleet, the printers of the Boston Evening-Post, distributed subscription notices for “A COLLECTION of Original PAPERS, which are intended to support and elucidate the principal Facts related in the first Part of the HISTORY of MASSACHUSETTS BAY.”  The printers promoted that volume as an appendix to the first volume of Thomas Hutchinson’s History of the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay, published in 1764.

In 1772, the Fleets promoted a similar project, though an advertisement in the January 23 edition of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter declared that a “Gentleman in England, of distinguished character for many munificent deeds to the Publick,” envisioned “printing a second Volume of Collection of Papers relative to the History of Massachusetts-Bay.”  An ideal companion for the earlier work, the new book would be “about the same size … at the same price” as the earlier one.  Acquiring copies of this proposed volume required subscribing.  It would not go to press until “Subscribers sufficient to defrey the Expence shall appear.”  In addition, “None will be printed for Sale,” only those reserved in advance.  Subscribers could submit their names to local agents, most of them printers, in eleven cities and towns in New England, New York, and Pennsylvania.

The “Gentleman in England” who supposedly initiated this project with an initial of subscription of “Ten Guineas” (or ten pounds and ten shillings) claimed to be motivated by “the Preservation of these Papers for the Benefit of Posterity.”  Printing the papers served as one means of preserving them, creating so many copies that the contents would survive even if the original documents did not.  A note near the end of the advertisement warned that “most of these Papers will, probably, be irrecoverably lost in a few Years, unless preserved by Printing.”  That meant that prospective subscribers had an obligation to invest in this enterprise “from a regard to the Public as well as for the sake of their particular Entertainment.”  Consumers had an opportunity to participate in historic preservation, not through tending to original sources but instead by purchasing so many copies of the volumes that anthologized those sources to make them always accessible to subsequent generations.

Slavery Advertisements Published January 23, 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 23, 1772).

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Maryland Gazette (January 23, 1772).

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Maryland Gazette (January 23, 1772).

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Maryland Gazette (January 23, 1772).

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Maryland Gazette (January 23, 1772).

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New-York Journal (January 23, 1772).

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Pennsylvania Gazette (January 23, 1772).

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Pennsylvania Journal (January 23, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (January 23, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (January 23, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (January 23, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (January 23, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (January 23, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (January 23, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (January 23, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (January 23, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (January 23, 1772).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (January 23, 1772).

January 22

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

Pennsylvania Chronicle (January 20, 1772).

“All sorts of Chymical and Galenical Medicines (truly prepared).”

When Townsend Speakman opened an apothecary shop on Market Street in Philadelphia in the early 1770s, he took to the pages of the Pennsylvania Chronicle to offer his services.  In an advertisement in the January 20, 1772, edition, he introduced himself as a “Chymist and Druggist, LATE FROM LONDON.”  Like many others who migrated across the Atlantic, he asserted his credentials as a means of establishing his reputation among prospective clients.  Speakman declared that he “served a regular apprenticeship to the business.”  In addition, he “had several years further experience therein, in a house of the first reputation in LONDON.”

That accrued additional benefits for his prospective clients beyond the expertise and experience the “Chymist and Druggist” gained during his apprenticeship and subsequent employment.  His connections to an apothecary shop “of the first reputation” meant that he could “procur[e] articles of the best quality” for the “most reasonable rates” for his customers.  He vowed to pass along the savings, promising to “sell on as low terms as any in this city.”  Speakman also emphasized quality elsewhere in his advertisement.  He assured readers that he sold “all sorts of Chymical and Galenical Medicines (truly prepared).”  That phrase suggested both his skill in compounding medications and the authenticity of the ingredients he used.  To underscore the point, Speakman pledged that “Family receipts [or remedies], and physical prescriptions, are carefully and correctly compounded.”  Furthermore, he carried “the best of Drugs [and] Patent Medicines.”

As a newcomer unknown to the prospective clients that he wished to engage, Speakman sought to convince readers that he merited their trust in preparing and providing medicines.  He emphasized both his formal training through an apprenticeship as well as his additional experience working in an apothecary shop “of the first reputation” in London.  He brought his expertise to Philadelphia, vowing to supply clients with “truly prepared” medicines of the best quality.  The apothecary achieved success in the Quaker City.  In the late 1780s, he supplemented his newspaper advertisements with an engraved billhead for writing receipts for customers.

Billhead, Townsend Speakman, 1789. Courtesy Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

January 21

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

Continuation of the South-Carolina Gazette (January 21, 1772).

“New Advertisements.”

Peter Timothy, the printer of the South-Carolina Gazette, and Charles Crouch, the printer of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, both had too much content to fit in the four pages of the standard issues of their newspapers on January 21, 1772.  Crouch distributed a four-page Supplement printed on a smaller sheet, while Timothy doubled the amount of content that he distributed with a Continuation printed on the same size sheet as the standard issue.

Except for the first two columns on the first page, that Continuation consisted entirely of advertising.  In newspapers printed throughout the colonies, it was often the case that printers used supplements for advertising when they ran out of space in their standard issues.  To aid readers in navigating the publication, Timothy inserted a heading for “New Advertisements” in the Continuation.  The first advertisements under that heading, however, also ran on the third page of the standard issue.  They had not previously appeared in the South-Carolina Gazette, so in that sense they were indeed “New Advertisements.”

Why were some advertisements published twice in the South-Carolina Gazette and its Continuation on a single day?  John Marley advertised a house and lot for sale.  Justina St. Leger advised consumers that she stocked an assortment of “MILLINARY GOODS” imported from London.  Katherine Lind and William Burrows, executors for Thomas Lind, asked readers to settle accounts.  All three repeated advertisements were short, so the printer may simply have deployed them as filler to complete the page.  In that case, Timothy may very well have inserted those notices in the Continuationgratis, charging the advertisers only for publishing them in the standard issue.

A heading for “New Advertisements” also appeared in the standard issue.  Few colonial printers used such headings, but Timothy did so regularly.  Perhaps he thought the heading incited interest among readers and prompted them to examine the advertisements more closely.  In turn, that benefited Timothy’s own customers who paid to have their notices run in the South-Carolina Gazette.  The printer also had a heading for “Timothy’s Marine List,” a distinctive means of identifying the shipping news from the customs house.  Even if some advertisements sometimes ran for a second time under the header for “New Advertisements,” Timothy’s use of headers to mark sections for advertising and the shipping news helped to give his newspaper its own look that made it easy to recognize and distinguish from other newspapers.

Slavery Advertisements Published January 21, 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.

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 21, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette (January 21, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette (January 21, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette (January 21, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette (January 21, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette (January 21, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette (January 21, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette (January 21, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette (January 21, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette (January 21, 1772).

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Continuation to the South-Carolina Gazette (January 21, 1772).

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Continuation to the South-Carolina Gazette (January 21, 1772).

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Continuation to the South-Carolina Gazette (January 21, 1772).

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Continuation to the South-Carolina Gazette (January 21, 1772).

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Continuation to the South-Carolina Gazette (January 21, 1772).