September 15

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

Providence Gazette (September 15, 1770).

“The extraordinary Forwardness of the College Edifice.”

To make possible the move from Warren to its permanent home in Providence, Rhode Island College (now Brown University) constructed a new building in 1770.  The college launched a fundraising campaign in Rhode Island and other colonies, including South Carolina and Georgia.  Advertisements in the Providence Gazette kept the community apprised of progress on the building … and reminded “Subscribers,” those who had pledged funds or supplies for the cause, to fulfill their commitments.  In early June, for instance, a committee comprised of Stephen Hopkins, John Jenckes, and John Brown placed an advertisement calling on “ALL Persons who have undertaken to supply any of the Timber for the COLLEGE” to deliver it as soon as possible since work on the foundation was nearing completion.

A new advertisement appeared in the Providence Gazette in the middle of September.  It provided an update about the building, using it as an occasion to remind subscribers of their obligations.  On behalf of the “Corporation of the COLLEGE in this Colony,” the notice trumpeted “the extraordinary Forwardness of the College Edifice” that had taken shape over the summer months.  What had been merely a foundation a few months earlier now had “Timber for the fourth Floor” in place.  Such progress meant that the college had incurred expenses.  Accordingly, the advertisement called on “the several Subscribers [to] immediately pay their Subscriptions to the Treasurer of the Corporation, or the Committee for carrying on the Building.”

This notice was part of the continued fundraising efforts of Rhode Island College, but it also served as a news item that kept readers of the Providence Gazette updated about the progress of the building.  Those who resided in town might have been aware of the status of the building based on their own observations as they went about their daily business, but others who lived elsewhere did not witness the various stages of erecting the building.  Fundraising advertisements aimed at subscribers helped keep the entire community informed.

Slavery Advertisements Published September 15, 1770

GUEST CURATOR:  Garrett Cardoza

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 15 1770 - Providence Gazette Slavery 1
Providence Gazette (September 15, 1770).

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Sep 15 1770 - Providence Gazette Slavery 2
Providence Gazette (September 15, 1770).

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Sep 15 1770 - Providence Gazette Slavery 3
Providence Gazette (September 15, 1770).

September 14

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

New-Hampshire Gazette (September 14, 1770).

Cash given for POT-ASH … at which Place is sold various Sorts of ENGLISH GOODS.”

James McMasters did not have a single purpose for the advertisement he placed in the September 14, 1770, edition of the New-Hampshire Gazette.  Instead, he sought to accomplish multiple goals.  His advertisement commenced and concluded with short messages calling on readers to supply commodities that McMasters was interested in acquiring.  “Cash given for POT-ASH” read the headline.  A nota bene also promised “The highest Price for good FLAX SEED” at McMasters’s store.  Nestled between the headline calling for potash and the nota bene seeking flax seed, the middle portion of the advertisement offered goods for sale.  McMasters declared that he sold “various Sorts of ENGLISH GOODS” at his store on Wallingford’s Wharf.  He was especially interested in dealing with retailers who would buy in bulk, promising prices “at so low a Rate as may induce Shopkeepers and Country Traders to purchase.”  McMasters anticipated that others would distribute those goods to consumers in Portsmouth and throughout the colony.

Advertisements with multiple purposes frequently appeared in the New-Hampshire Gazette and other eighteenth-century newspapers.  Sometimes the various goals were more closely aligned than others.  Advertisers on occasion, for instance, inserted real estate notices that described buildings, land, and other amenities in great detail before concluding with a brief nota bene about consumer goods for sale or services offered.  In McMasters’s case, the entire advertisement focused on buying and selling.  By alternating between the two, his advertisement conjured images of items moving in and out of his store.  This gave the impression that the store was a busy site for commercial transactions while simultaneously testifying to McMasters’s skills as an entrepreneur who balanced the acquisition of commodities and sales of consumer goods.  McMasters could have placed more than one advertisement, each with its own purpose, but combining them together into one notice better represented the scope of his business interests and commercial savvy.

Slavery Advertisements Published September 14, 1770

GUEST CURATOR:  Garrett Cardoza

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 14 1770 - New-London Gazette Slavery 1
New-London Gazette (September 14, 1770).

September 13

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

Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (September 13, 1770).

“At the Black Boy and Butt in Cornhill.”

In an advertisement in the September 13, 1770, edition of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter, Jonathan Williams informed readers that he sold “Choice Pesada, Malaga, Madeira, Tenerife or Vidonia, and other WINES.”  He also stocked “Good Barbadoes RUM” and “good empty Casks for Cyder.”  To aid prospective customers in finding his storehouse, Williams listed his location as “At the Black Boy and Butt in Cornhill.”  A sign depicting a Black child and a barrel adorned his place of business.

Black people, many of them enslaved, were present in Boston during the era of the American Revolution.  Living and working in the bustling port city, Black people were physically present.  Elsewhere in the same issue of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter, another advertisement offered a “likely Negro Woman, about 20 Years old” for sale.  The enslaver remained anonymous, as was often the case, instead directing interested parties to “Enquire at [Richard] Draper’s Printing Office.”  Another advertisement described a “NEGRO MAN, calls himself Jeffry,” who had been “Taken up” on suspicion of having escaped from his enslaver.  In addition to living and working in Boston, Black people also endeavored to liberate themselves, though they had been doing that long before the era of the American Revolution.

As Williams’s sign testifies, Black people were also present in the iconography on display in Boston, just as they were in other port cities In New England and other regions.  (See a short and unsurely incomplete list below.)  The “Black Boy and Butt” represented Williams’s commercial interests.  He transformed the Black body into a logo for his business, a further exploitation of the enslaved people responsible for producing many of the commodities he marketed.  The “Good Barbadoes RUM” he promoted came from a colony notorious for both the size of its enslaved population and the harsh conditions under which they involuntarily labored to produce sugarcane desired for sweetening tea and necessary for distilling rum.  Williams may not have been an enslaver himself, but his business depended on enslaved people twice over, first through production and then through the visual representation that distinguished his storehouse from other buildings on Cornhill Street.  Williams’s customers encountered a visible reminder that their consumption habits were enmeshed in networks of trade that integrated slavery as a vital component every time they visited his storehouse and saw the “Black Boy and Butt.”

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Sign of the Black Boy, Providence Gazette, April 15, 1769
Sign of the Black Boy and Butt, Providence Gazette, December 10, 1768
Sign of the Black Boy, Connecticut Courant, March 31, 1766

Slavery Advertisements Published September 13, 1770

GUEST CURATOR:  Garrett Cardoza

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 13 1770 - Maryland Gazette Slavery 1
Maryland Gazette (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Massachusets Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter Slavery 1
Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Massachusets Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter Slavery 2
Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Gazette (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Gazette (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Pennsylvania Journal Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Journal (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 5
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 6
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 7
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 8
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 9
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 10
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 11
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 12
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 13
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 5
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 6
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 7
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 8
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (September 13, 1770).

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Sep 13 1770 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 9
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (September 13, 1770).

Welcome, Guest Curator Garrett Cardoza

Garrett Cardoza is a senior pursuing a double major in History and Political Science at Assumption University. Originally from Somerset, Massachusetts, he is interested in political philosophy and the development of political theory over time. On campus, Garrett has served as a Senator and Committee Chair for the Student Government Association, an Orientation Leader and Student Program Executive, a sub-chair for the Campus Activities Board, ambassador for the Students Involved in Better Success Program, and member of the Model Senate Project sponsored by the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Center for Scholarship and Statesmanship.  He is currently the president of the Student Government Association.  He conducted the research for his contributions as guest curator for the Slavery Adverts 250 Project when he was enrolled in HIS 400 – Research Methods: Vast Early America in Spring 2020.

Welcome, guest curator Garrett Cardoza!

September 12

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

Pennsylvania Chronicle (September 10, 1770).

“Turtle, for large Companies, dressed to Perfection.”

When Edward Bardin opened the King’s Arms Tavern in New York in the summer of 1770, he did not confine his advertising to the newspapers published in that city.  Instead, he also placed a notice in the Pennsylvania Chronicle, advising “Gentlemen, Ladies and others” of the amenities available at his establishment.  He promised to entertain them “in the most complete and genteel Manner.”  To achieve that goal, he acquired “a good Stock of neat Wines and other Liquors, a professed Cook, and other proper Attendants.”  He also supplied “the public Papers” for his customers, likely including the New-York Journal, the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, and the New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy.  He may have also subscribed to newspapers printed in other cities and towns in the colonies and perhaps even London as well.  Bardin also offered “convenient Lodgings” for “Gentlemen who are Strangers,” including those who saw his advertisement in the Pennsylvania Chronicle and then traveled to New York.  The tavernkeeper aimed to impress, contending that he had everything “necessary to render” the King’s Arms “as complete a House of Business as any on the Continent in America.”

Bardin emphasized one additional amenity for prospective guests: “Turtle, for large Companies, dressed to perfection.”  Tavernkeepers occasionally mentioned that they provided turtle, shorthand for turtle feasts.  By the middle of the eighteenth century, turtle feasts became popular among the elite in London and the largest cities in the colonies.  In “An Historical and Zooarchaeological Approach to the Study of Turtle-based Foods in the City of Brotherly Love, ca. 1750-1850,” Teagan Schweitzer notes that the turtles for these feasts were often “large ocean-bound green sea turtles … in the range of 50 to 300 pounds” and “imported from the West Indies.”  Due to their size, they were served at banquets, just as Bardin suggested in his advertisement.  According to Schweitzer, “Hannah Glasse’s 1751 edition of The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy, the earliest English cookbook to include a recipe for turtle, aside from the soup there was a dish highlighting the calipash (the back shell), one for the calipee (the belly), a dish made from the offal (entrails), and one from the fins.”  Recipes for turtle appeared in several eighteenth-century cookbooks.  In The Experienced English House-keeper (1769), Elizabeth Raffald “gave instructions for preparing seven dishes from a turtle weighing a hundred pounds.”  For one final example, Schweitzer highlights a recipe for turtle in Amelia Simmons’s American Cookery (1796), the first American cookbook.  Simmons included only thirty-nine recipes in that cookbook.

In the second half of the eighteenth-century, the turtle feast became a popular pastime for genteel diners who gathered for banquets at taverns like the King’s Arms in New York.  Bardin mentioned “Turtle, for large Companies, dressed to perfection” in his advertisement as an additional mark of distinction for his tavern, an amenity as important as the “neat Wines,” “public Papers,” and “proper Attendants” that made his establishment rival any other in the colonies.

September 11

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

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 11, 1770).

“Merchants and Tradesmen may have their Books regulated by the Month.”

As summer turned to fall in 1770, Jacob Valk took to the pages of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal to advertise his services as a bookkeeper.  He informed readers that he “keeps an Office where Merchants and Tradesmen may have their Books regulated by the Month.”  He assisted with balancing and closing accounts as well as opening accounts “properly for those commencing any Kind of Business.”  Valk oversaw books kept for various purposes: “Partnerships Accounts, and Accounts of Ships, Planters, or Executors.”  In each case, clients could depend on having their ledgers “properly scrutinized, and accurately adjusted.”  They could also expect confidentiality.  Valk promised “Secrecy and Dispatch.”

Valk made a special appeal to prospective clients “apprehensive of a Failure or Litigation at Law.”  By hiring his services, they could avoid Embarrassment in their Affairs.”  Although he did not offer any guarantees, he suggested that anyone anxious about their bookkeeping abilities could gain a sense of security by relying on his guidance and oversight.  It was “more than probable,” he asserted, that his clients would “meet with a happy Prevention” of undesirable outcomes, but only if they acted in a timely manner.  Valk encouraged prospective clients to consult with him early rather than wait until it was too late for him to help.

Valk presented a combination of invitation and warning in his advertisement.  By responding to his notice, “Merchants and Tradesmen” lessened the chances that they would find themselves in the position of having to respond to another sort of notice that frequently appeared in the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal and other newspapers, those that called on colonists to settle accounts or face legal action.  In the same issue that carried Valk’s advertisement, Andrew Taylor placed just such a notice directed at “all Persons indebted to me.”  Those who owed Taylor money were on the verge of experiencing “Embarrassment in their Affairs” if they did not settle accounts quickly.  Valk offered an alternative to clients who hired his bookkeeping services.

Slavery Advertisements Published September 11, 1770

GUEST CURATOR:  Benjamin Bartlett

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 11 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 11, 1770).

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Sep 11 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 11, 1770).

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Sep 11 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 11, 1770).

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Sep 11 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 11, 1770).

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Sep 11 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 11, 1770).

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Sep 11 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 6
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 11, 1770).

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Sep 11 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 7
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 11, 1770).

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Sep 11 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 8
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 11, 1770).

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Sep 11 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 9
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 11, 1770).

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Sep 11 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 10
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 11, 1770).