September 8

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

Providence Gazette (September 8, 1770).

An Advertisement to be inserted three Weeks successively in the Providence Gazette, in the Newport Mercury, in one of the Boston, and in one of the New-York News-Papers.”

The misfortune of others generated advertising revenue for John Carter, printer of the Providence Gazette, and other newspaper printers in the 1770s.  Consider the September 8, 1770, edition of the Providence Gazette.  It featured six advertisements concerning insolvent debtors placed by Henry Ward, secretary of Rhode Island’s General Assembly.

Those notices reiterated formulaic language.  Each named a colonist and his place of residence, stating that he “preferred a Petition unto the General Assembly … representing that he is an insolvent Debtor, and praying that he may the receive the Benefit of an Act passed in June, 1756, intituled, ‘An Act for the Relief of insolvent Debtors.’”  According to the notice, the General Assembly deferred consideration of the petition until the next session, but also specified that “his creditors should be notified” via newspaper advertisements.  On behalf of the General Assembly, Ward invited those creditors to attend the next session and “there to shew Cause, if any they  have, why the said Petition should not be granted.”

Four of these notices called for such advertisements to appear in the Providence Gazette and the Newport Mercury, the two newspapers published in Rhode Island in 1770.  The two other notices each cast a wider net.  One added “one of the New-York News-Papers” and the other added “one of the Boston, and … one of the New-York News-Papers.”  All six called for the advertisements to run “three Weeks successively” in each newspaper.

Carter solicited advertisements for the Providence Gazette in the colophon at the bottom of the final page of every issue.  He may have been especially grateful for these notices in early September since he had few others to insert and he continued to run his own notice calling on “ALL Persons indebted to the Printer” to settle accounts or face legal action.  Assuming that he could depend on the General Assembly to pay for these advertisements in a timely manner, they might have been a windfall for Carter.

Slavery Advertisements Published September 1, 1770

GUEST CURATOR:  Chloe Amour

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 for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – 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 colonists 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. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. 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 slaveholders rather than the slaves 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.

Sep 1 1770 - Providence Gazette Slavery 1
Providence Gazette (September 1, 1770).

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Sep 1 1770 - Providence Gazette Slavery 2
Providence Gazette (September 1, 1770).

Slavery Advertisements Published July 28, 1770

GUEST CURATOR: Parker Sears

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 for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – 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 colonists 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. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. 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 slaveholders rather than the slaves themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

From compiling an archive of digitized eighteenth-century newspapers to identifying advertisements about enslaved men, women, and children in those newspapers to preparing images of each advertisement to posting this daily digest, Parker Sears served as guest curator for this entry. Working on this project fulfilled his senior capstone requirement for completing the major in History at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Jul 28 - Providence Gazette slavery 1
Providence Gazette (July 28, 1770)

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Jul 28 - Providence Gazette slavery 2
Providence Gazette (July 28, 1770)

July 11

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

Jul 11 - 7:11:1770 South-Carolina and American General Gazette
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (July 11, 1770).

“Any person inclinable to purchase the Whole, may have them on very reasonable Terms.”

John Tunno sold a variety of goods at his “Linen and Manchester Ware-House” on Broad Street in Charleston.  In an advertisement in the July 11, 1770, edition of the South-Carolina and American General Gazette, he advertised a “large and compleat Assortment of Linen-Drapery, Hosiery, Stuffs, and other Goods.”  Those items included “printed Linens and Cottons,” a Quantity of Check Handkerchiefs,” “beautiful Silk Stripes for Mens Waistcoats,” and “neat trimmed Womens Hats and Bonnets.”  He also stocked “sundry Articles that cannot, by reason of the Resolutions,” the nonimportation agreement adopted by merchants and others in South Carolina, “be now imported.”  Tunno emphasized consumer choice in his advertisement, repeatedly using words and phrases like “assortment,” “variety,” and “of all sorts” as well as listed numerous items for prospective customers’ consideration.  That he carried items that respectable merchants no longer imported further enhanced the array of choices.

In addition to promoting a wide selection of merchandise, Tunno offered bargains to those who bought in volume.  Bulk discounts framed his advertisement, appearing at both the beginning and conclusion.  In that regard, he addressed retailers rather than consumers.  Immediately before enumerating his wares, he stated that he adjusted prices “Lower to any Person buying a Quantity.”  He inserted a nota bene at the end, instructing prospective customers to take note that “Any person inclinable to purchase the Whole, may have them on very reasonable Terms.”  Tunno aimed to part with his entire inventory in a single transaction.  For shopkeepers, this was a turnkey opportunity for acquiring inventory.

Tunno deployed two of the most common marketing strategies in eighteenth-century newspaper advertisements.  He took a standard approach to consumer choice, proclaiming that he offered a variety of goods, demonstrating that was the case with a lengthy list, and promising even more.  He modified the usual approach taken to price; rather than stating that he charged low prices Tunno instead presented conditions for getting a bargain, giving buyers a greater sense of agency in shaping the terms of their transactions.  Tunno offered an opportunity for even better bargains, but only if customers chose to buy “a Quantity” or “the Whole.”  In both cases, inciting consumer imagination through invoking choices or prompting buyers to purchase in volume, Tunno resorted to strategies that encouraged readers to actively engage with his advertisement.

April 24

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

Apr 24 - 4:24:1770 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 24, 1770).

“A Printed Catalogue will be timely delivered.”

In advance of an auction of a “A Collection of BOOKS,” Nicholas Langford placed an advertisement in the April 24, 1770, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal.  He provided a preview of some of the items for sale, including “Johnson’s Dictionary” in two volumes and thirty-two volumes of the London Magazinefrom the Beginning.”  Langford could have inserted a more extensive account of the “Collection of “BOOKS.”  Instead, he declared that “A Printed Catalogue will be timely delivered.”  He used his newspaper advertisement to promote another form of marketing ephemera that prospective customers could consult and find useful prior to and during the auction.

Indeed, book catalogs and auction catalogs (and catalogs for book auctions) were ephemeral.  Little or no evidence exists concerning the production and distribution of many catalogs except for mentions of them in newspaper advertisements.  Some may never have existed except in those advertisements; bibliographers and historians of print culture suspect that advertisers like Langford sometimes promised catalogs that never went to press.  While some catalogs mentioned in newspaper notices may very well have turned out to be bibliographic ghosts, enough eighteenth-century catalogs have survived to demonstrate that medium did circulate in early America.

It would not have served Langford well to allude to a catalog that would not be “timely delivered” or even delivered at all.  As an entrepreneur seeking to attract as many bidders to his auction as possible, it served his interests to distribute the catalog.  In addition, it would have damaged his reputation if prospective buyers sent for a catalog and he had to confess that he had not managed to follow through on the intention that he had announced to the public in a newspaper advertisement.  Even if something prevented Langford or others from publishing some of the catalogs mentioned in newspaper advertisements, that they were referenced at all suggests that they were a form of marketing media that colonists expected to encounter.

Slavery Advertisements Published January 23, 1770

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 for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – 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 colonists 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. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. 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 slaveholders rather than the slaves 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.

Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 6
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 7
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 8
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 9
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 10
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 11
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 12
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 13
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

Slavery Advertisements Published January 12, 1770

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 for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – 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 colonists 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. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. 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 slaveholders rather than the slaves 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.

Jan 12 1770 - New-London Gazette Slavery 1
New-London Gazette (January 12, 1770).

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Jan 12 1770 - New-London Gazette Slavery 2
New-London Gazette (January 12, 1770).

December 23

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

Dec 23 - 12:23:1769 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (December 23, 1769).

“His Store in East-Greenwich.”

On December 23, 1769, Richard Matthewson published a newspaper advertisement promoting the “Neat Assortment of English and West-India Goods” he sold at his store near the courthouse in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. On the same day, James Mitchell Varnum also published a newspaper advertisement, that one informing the public that he “hath lately opened an Office … in the Character of Attorney at Law” in the town of East Greenwich. Both advertisements ran in the Providence Gazette. They demonstrate the widespread circulation of colonial newspapers.

For Matthewson and Varnum, the Providence Gazette, printed twenty miles distant from East Greenwich, was their local newspaper. In 1769, only two newspapers were printed in Rhode Island, the Newport Mercury by Solomon Southwick and the Providence Gazette by John Carter. Each served as clearinghouses for advertisements from beyond the busy ports where the printing offices were located. Matthewson expected that customers in East Greenwich and the surrounding villages would read the Providence Gazette and encounter his notice. Otherwise he would not have placed it. Similarly, Varnum anticipated that investing in an advertisement in the Providence Gazette would generate clients for his law office.

An explosion of printing occurred after the American Revolution. Printers established newspapers in smaller towns throughout the new United States in the final decades of the eighteenth century and even more as the nineteenth century progressed. In the period before the American Revolution, however, colonists had access to far fewer newspapers. Several newspapers emanated from the largest port cities, but they often served an entire colony or an even larger region. Some colonies had only one newspaper, such as the Georgia Gazette published in Savannah and the New-Hampshire Gazette published in Portsmouth. Their mastheads bore the name of the colony rather than the town where they were published. Only in New England were some newspapers named for cities and towns, suggesting a greater concentration of print in that region. (Newspaper published in New York served the entire colony, not just the bustling port.) Even when named for a town, however, newspapers like the Providence Gazette circulated throughout an entire colony and beyond. That made the Providence Gazette the local newspaper and appropriate place to advertise for Matthewson, Varnum, and others who lived in other parts of the colony.

Slavery Advertisements Published August 9, 1769

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 for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – 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 colonists 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. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. 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 slaveholders rather than the slaves 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.

Aug 9 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 1
Georgia Gazette (August 9, 1769).

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Aug 9 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 2
Georgia Gazette (August 9, 1769).

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Aug 9 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 3
Georgia Gazette (August 9, 1769).

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Aug 9 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 4
Georgia Gazette (August 9, 1769).

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Aug 9 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 5
Georgia Gazette (August 9, 1769).

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Aug 9 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 6
Georgia Gazette (August 9, 1769).

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Aug 9 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 7
Georgia Gazette (August 9, 1769).

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Aug 9 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 8
Georgia Gazette (August 9, 1769).

Slavery Advertisements Published April 10, 1769

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 for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – 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 colonists 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. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. 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 slaveholders rather than the slaves themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

Bryant Halpin is serving as guest curator for the week of April 7-13, 2019.  He compiled these advertisements that appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Supplement to the Boston Evening-Post (April 10, 1769).

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Boston-Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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Connecticut Courant (April 10, 1769).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 10, 1769).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 10, 1769).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 10, 1769).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 10, 1769).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 10, 1769).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 10, 1769).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 10, 1769).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 10, 1769).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 10, 1769).

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New-York Gazette: Or, the Weekly Post-Boy (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).