What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“Will be celebrated, the Anniversary of the REPEAL OF THE STAMP-ACT.”
A manicule called attention to an announcement about an upcoming event, a dinner commemorating the repeal of the Stamp Act, when the organizers advertised it in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury in March 1772. “ON Wednesday the 18th,” the notice proclaimed, “at the House of Mr. DE LA MONTAGNIE, will be celebrated, the Anniversary of the REPEAL OF THE STAMP-ACT, by those Gentlemen, and their Friends, who associated there last Year.” The gathering marked the sixth anniversary. Even before colonizers declared independence, they established traditions for commemorating some of the events that caused the American Revolution. In New York, they held annual dinners to celebrate colonial resistance that contributed to the repeal of the Stamp Act. In Boston, colonizers gathered annually for orations about the Bloody Massacre in King Street. In person and in print, colonizers participated in a culture of commemoration of the revolutionary era before the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord.
The advertisement in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury invited newcomers to join those who had previously celebrated. It alerted “Gentlemen … who associated there last Year” to return, but also encouraged “their Friends” to attend the dinner held on the sixth anniversary of the king giving royal assent on March 18 to a resolution to repeal the Stamp Act passed by Parliament on February 21, 1766. News of the repeal arrived in the colonies in May, inciting a round of celebrations at that time as well. The advertisement for the annual gathering “at the House of Mr. DE LA MONTAGNIE” reminded readers, even those who did not intend to attend, that the anniversary was approaching. It likely prompted many to recall the protests and the nonimportation agreements that colonizers organized in opposition to the Stamp Act as well as subsequent actions taken against the duties imposed on certain imported goods in the Townshend Acts. Merely announcing a dinner held to celebrate the repeal of the Stamp Act served as an abbreviated editorial about politics and recent events.