Slavery Advertisements Published November 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.

Pennsylvania Gazette (November 25, 1772).

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Pennsylvania Journal (November 25, 1772).

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Pennsylvania Journal (November 25, 1772).

November 24

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

Essex Gazette (November 24, 1772).

“William Vans sells / Allspice by the Bag, / Raisins by the Cask, / Flour by the Barrel.”

William Vans wanted to make sure that prospective customers knew about the goods he offered for sale in the fall of 1772.  Like other merchants and shopkeepers in Salem, Massachusetts, he placed advertisements in the Essex Gazette.  Unlike his competitors, however, he did not limit himself to one advertisement at a time.  Instead, he published multiple advertisements simultaneously, encouraging greater name recognition as readers encountered his notices over and over while perusing the newspaper.

The November 24 edition of the Essex Gazette featured four columns of advertising (out of twelve columns in the entire issue).  Three advertisements inserted by Vans appeared in those four columns, one longer notice and two shorter ones.  He could have made arrangements with the printer to consolidate the advertisements into a single notice, but apparently considered it more effective to have readers repeatedly return to his name and descriptions of his merchandise as they browsed through other advertisements promoting similar goods.

Vans once again ran his GOODS cheaper the cheapest” advertisement, a catalog of his inventory that rivaled other advertisements in length.  It included a revision to the final line, moving “Looking-Glasses” to a separate line and printing the word in a larger font to draw attention.  That Vans modified his advertisement in that manner demonstrates that he could have inserted additional content if he wished.

Instead, he opted to publish two shorter advertisements.  One consisted of only fifteen words on four lines: “William Vans sells / Allspice by the Bag, / Raisins by the Cask, / Flour by the Barrel.”  Vans likely believed those quick pronouncements, that reiterative tattoo of goods and their containers, made his advertisement as effective as any of the more elaborate notices.  He seems to have carefully selected his words to create a cadence that would resonate with readers.  He took a more traditional approach in his other short advertisement, stating that he had a “few quarter Casks old Teneriffe WINE” for sale, as well as “ALLSPICE by the Bag or less Quantity.”  He removed the portion about allspice when he published the advertisement the following week, once again suggesting an ability to revise, extend, and consolidate advertisements if he wished to do so.

Other merchants and shopkeepers occasionally adopted a similar strategy, publishing multiple advertisements in a single issue as a means of drawing greater attention to their names and their goods.  Most purveyors of goods and services, however, tended to run only one advertisement at a time during the era of weekly newspapers prior to the American Revolution.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 24, 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 (November 24, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1772).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1772).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 24, 1772).

November 23

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

Boston-Gazette (November 23, 1772).

“A General Supply of the most modern BOOKS.”

Like many modern booksellers, James Foster Condy sold books and more at his store on Union Street in Boston in the early 1770s.  In a lengthy advertisement that ran in the November 23, 1772, edition of the Boston-Gazette, he highlighted several aspects of his business, promoting his merchandise, his prices, and his customer service.

Condy began with an announcement about a new publication, “A POEM, Entitled, the GRAVE. By Robert Blair.”  That volume also included “An ELEGY written in a Country Church-Yard. By Mr. Gray.”  In addition to listing the price, just one shilling, Condy appealed to colonizers who considered themselves refined consumers of literature, assuring them that the “Pamphlet will fully recommend itself, to the best Judges and Lovers of Poetry.”  The bookseller had a particular interest in this pamphlet, having made arrangements with a local printer to produce a new edition.

The portion of Condy’s advertisement that hawked the poems could have stood on its own as a separate notice, but the bookseller determined that it served as a good introduction to an overview of his wares.  In addition to the poetry, printed in Boston, he also stocked a “General Supply of the most modern BOOKS” imported from London.  Rather than list any titles, Condy highlighted various genres, including “Law, Physick, History, Divinity, and every Branch of polite Literature” as well as bibles and other devotional materials.  He even had “Books for the Amusement and Instruction of Children.”

The bookseller also carried an assortment of stationery and writing supplies.  That portion of his advertisement occupied almost as much space as the portion about the poetry and more than the portion about other books.  Condy listed everything from “Writing Paper of every Sort” and “Account Books of every Size and Quality” to “various Sorts of Penknives” and “Quills,” to “Glass Ink Potts” and “red and black Sealing Wax.”  In yet another section of the advertisement, he called attention to other kinds of merchandise, some of it related to the books and stationery he sold.  Condy stocked “reading Glasses” and “Glasses for near-sighted Persons” as well as “Diagonal Machines for viewing of Prints” and “a Convex Glass for drawing Landscapes.”

The bookseller concluded with a pitch that extended beyond his merchandise.  He proclaimed that he offered the lowest prices that consumers would encounter not only in the city but anywhere in the colonies, asserting that “All those Persons who please to purchase at said Store, may depend on buying as cheap as at any Store in BOSTON or AMERICA.”  He was so confident in that claim that he declared its veracity “without Exception.”  In addition, his customers would be “used” or treated “in such a Manner as will leave no Room for Complaint, but give entire Satisfaction.”  In other words, Condy considered customer service an important aspect of his business.

With all of the books, stationery, writing supplies, glasses, and other merchandise, the inventory at Condy’s bookstore looked much the same to consumers in eighteenth-century America as modern bookstores appear to customers who browse an array of goods.  Condy did not rely on a single revenue stream.  Instead, he marketed and sold a variety of wares, using price and customer service to further entice prospective clients.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 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.

Boston Evening-Post (November 23, 1772).

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Boston-Gazette (November 23, 1772).

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Newport Mercury (November 23, 1772).

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Newport Mercury (November 23, 1772).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 23, 1772).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 23, 1772).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 23, 1772).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 23, 1772).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 23, 1772).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 23, 1772).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 23, 1772).

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Pennsylvania Packet (November 23, 1772).

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Pennsylvania Packet (November 23, 1772).

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Supplement to the Pennsylvania Packet (November 23, 1772).

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Supplement to the Pennsylvania Packet (November 23, 1772).

November 22

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

Maryland Gazette (November 19, 1772).

“They are well acquainted with the newest Fashions.”

When they settled in Annapolis, Jane Nelson and Anne Nelson took out an advertisement in the Maryland Gazette to introduce themselves to the community and encourage “Ladies … to favour them with their Commands” or orders for “all Kind of Milliners and Mantua-makers Work.”  As newcomers to the colony, they could not rely on their reputations to market their services.  Instead, they emphasized their connections to London, the cosmopolitan center of the empire, and their knowledge of current styles there.

In the deadline for their advertisement, the Nelsons proclaimed that they “Just arrived from LONDON.”  Artisans, tailors, milliners, and others often trumpeted that they were “from London” in their advertisements, sometimes long after they crossed the Atlantic.  The Nelsons made it clear that they only recently made that journey.  Accordingly, prospective clients could trust that they were indeed “well acquainted with the newest Fashions” and capable of making hats, cloaks, and other garments “in the most elegant and fashionable manner.”  Having recently come from London, the Nelsons could also provide guidance about “Ladies fashionable dress and undress Caps” and other items.

The Nelsons also aimed to convince prospective clients that they offered exemplary customer service.  They asserted that “Ladies … may depend on having their Work neatly done, and with the utmost Dispatch.”  If given a chance, the Nelsons assured those ladies that “they will not be disappointed in their Endeavours to please, as it shall be their constant Study and greatest Ambition.”  In addition to serving clients who visited them in Annapolis, the Nelsons also took “Orders from the Country,” pledging to punctually complete them.

These “Milliners and Mantua-makers” deployed a two-pronged approach to marketing their services upon arriving in Annapolis.  They promoted their connections to London, underscoring their familiarity with the latest tastes there, while simultaneously vowing to meet and exceed the expectations of their clients in terms of customer service.  The Nelsons hoped that combination of appeals would entice the ladies of Annapolis to engage their services.

November 21

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

Providence Gazette (November 21, 1772).

“At the Sign of the Greyhound.”

Nathaniel Wheaton sold a “new Assortment of English and India GOODS, of almost every Kind,” as well as “West-India Goods” at his shop on Williams Street in Providence.  In an advertisement that ran in the Providence Gazette for several weeks in November 1772, he thanked his current customers and invited new ones to examine his merchandise, pledging that all of “their Favours will be gratefully acknowledged.”

To help readers find his shop, Wheaton noted that “the Sign of the Greyhound” marked his location.  A woodcut depicting a greyhound, sitting on its haunches and its town hanging out, adorned the advertisement.  The image may have replicated the shop sign.  Even if Wheaton had not been that precise, he still resorted to some sort of depiction of a greyhound to encourage consumers to associate that emblem with his shop.  Like other eighteenth-century newspaper advertisers who published images that correlated to their shop signs, Wheaton devised a marketing strategy that could be considered a precursor to branding his business.  The woodcut encouraged readers to associate the greyhound with Wheaton’s shop, especially when considered in combination with the sign displayed on Williams Street.

The image also directed attention to Wheaton’s advertisement.  Except for the image of a lion and a unicorn flanking a crown and shield in the masthead, the greyhound was the only image in the November 21 edition of the Providence Gazette.  Readers could not have missed it!  Wheaton incurred additional expense to achieve that.  He paid for the woodcut and he paid for the space it occupied.  Newspaper advertisers paid for the amount of space required to publish their notices, not by the number of words, so both larger fonts and images increased the costs of running advertisements.  Wheaton devoted as much space to the image of the greyhound as he did to advertising copy, doubling the price of his notice compared to what he would have paid if he published solely text.  He likely considered the additional expense a good investment to distinguish his advertisement from those of his competitors.  After all, it was not the first time he incorporated the image into his newspaper advertisements.

An imperfection in the copy of the November 21 edition available in the database of digitized images of eighteenth-century newspapers mars the image of the greyhound in Wheaton’s advertisement. This image shows the woodcut without flaws. (Providence Gazette, November 14, 1772).

Slavery Advertisements Published November 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.

Pennsylvania Chronicle (November 21, 1772).

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Providence Gazette (November 21, 1772).

November 20

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

New-London Gazette (November 20, 1772).

“A curious Assortment of new-fashion’d GOODS.”

One advertisement dominated the final page of the November 20, 1772, edition of the New-London Gazette.  Ebenezer Backus, Jr., ran a notice that filled more than three-quarters of the page, inviting customers to attend a sale of a “curious Assortment of new-fashion’d GOODS” at his store in Norwich.  Although other items appeared at the top of the page, the size of Backus’s advertisement in general combined with the size of font for the word “GOODS” in the middle of the page in particular, drew attention away from everything else.  Readers may have eventually noticed the “POETS CORNER,” a weekly feature on the final page, but the prominence of Backus’s advertisement likely meant they overlooked Thomas Hartshorn’s notice calling on those indebted to him to settle accounts, at least initially.

Backus’s notice may have circulated solely in this format, but that may not have been the case.  He could have also made arrangements with Timothy Green, the printer of the New-London Gazette, to produce additional copies to distribute as broadsides or handbills.  That seems to have been a practice among printers and entrepreneurs in the early 1770s.  Smith and Coit likely did so with a broadside book catalog that also ran in the August 4, 1772, edition of the Connecticut Courant.  Similarly, John Boyles may have adopted the same strategy with subscription proposals for Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws in the October 19, 1772, edition of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy.

The inclusion of a colophon suggests that Green printed separate broadsides or handbills for Backus to post around town or give to prospective customers.  Green did not always publish a colophon in the New-London Gazette.  When he did, it sometimes read, “NEW-LONDON: Printed by T. Green,” and other times simply stated, “Printed by T. Green.”  In contrast, the colophon centered at the bottom of the final page of the November 20 edition gave both the place of publication and the printer’s full name, “NEW-LONDON: Printed by TIMOTHY GREEN.”  Printers often placed their colophon on broadsides and handbills they printed for others, giving announcements or advertisements intended for other purposes a secondary purpose as marketing materials promoting the services offered by printers.  The presence of the colophon on the final page of the New-London Gazette does not definitively demonstrate that a broadside or handbill circulated separately, but it does support the possibility that colonizers encountered more advertising in a variety of formats than those preserved in the collections of research libraries and historical societies might suggest.

New-London Gazette (November 20, 1772).

Slavery Advertisements Published November 20, 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.

Connecticut Journal (November 20, 1772).