November 22

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

Pennsylvania Journal (November 22, 1770).

“LIBERTY.”

“To be sold … A Healthy active young NEGRO MAN.”

Liberty and enslavement were intertwined in the 1770s, a paradox that defines the founding of the United States as an independent nation.  As white colonists advocated for their own liberty and protested their figurative enslavement by king and Parliament, they continued to enslave Africans and African Americans.  Even those who did not purport to be masters of Black men and women participated in maintaining an infrastructure of exploitation.  The juxtaposition of liberty and enslavement regularly found expression in the pages of newspapers during the era of the American Revolution as news items and editorial letters rehearsed arguments made by patriots and advertisements encouraged consumers to factor political considerations into the choices they made in the marketplace while other news items documented fears of revolts by enslaved people and other advertisements offered Black men, women, and children for sale or announced rewards for capturing enslaved people who liberated themselves by running away from those who held them in bondage.

Such contradictory items always appeared within close proximity to one another, especially considering that newspapers of the era usually consisted of only four pages.  In some instances, the juxtaposition should have been nearly impossible for readers to miss.  Consider two advertisements that ran in the November 22, 1770, edition of the Pennsylvania Journal.  William Bradford and Thomas Bradford, the printers of the newspaper, inserted a short notice about “LIBERTY.  A POEM” available for sale at their printing office.  Immediately below that notice appeared John Bayard’s advertisement offering a “Healthy active young NEGRO MAN” and an enslaved woman for sale.  The word “LIBERTY” in the Bradfords’ very brief notice appeared in all capitals and such a large font that it could have served as a headline for the next advertisement, an exceptionally cruel and inaccurate headline.  Both advertisements represented revenues for the Bradfords, the first potential revenues of potential sales and the second actual revenues paid by Bayard to insert the advertisement.

Examining either advertisement in isolation results in a truncated history of the era of the era of the American Revolution.  The advertisement for “LIBERTY.  A POEM” must be considered in relation to the advertisement for a “Healthy young NEGRO MAN” and woman to tell a more complete story of the nation’s past, even when some critics charge that the inclusion of the latter is revisionist and ideologically motivated.  It is neither.  Instead, it is a responsible and accurate rendering of the past.  The Bradfords positioned these advertisements together on the page 250 years ago.  We cannot separate them today.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 22, 1770

GUEST CURATOR:  Evan Reichenthal

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 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 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.

Nov 22 1770 - Maryland Gazette Slavery 1
Maryland Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Maryland Gazette Slavery 2
Maryland Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Maryland Gazette Slavery 3
Maryland Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - New-York Journal Slavery 1
New-York Journal (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - New-York Journal Slavery 2
New-York Journal (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - New-York Journal Slavery 3
New-York Journal (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - New-York Journal Slavery 4
New-York Journal (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - New-York Journal Slavery 5
New-York Journal (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - New-York Journal Slavery 6
New-York Journal (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - New-York Journal Slavery 7
New-York Journal (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 3
Pennsylvania Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Pennsylvania Journal Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Journal (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Pennsylvania Journal Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Journal (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 6
South-Carolina Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 7
South-Carolina Gazette (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 22, 1770).

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Nov 22 1770 - Virginia Gazette Purdie & Dixon Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 22, 1770).

Welcome, Guest Curator Evan Reichenthal

Evan Reichenthal is a senior at Assumption University in Worcerster, Massachusetts. He is majoring in History with minors in Political Science and Law, Ethics, and Constitutional Studies. His home town is Princeton, Massachusetts. Before college, he served as an infantryman in the United States Marine Corps, fighting in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He was subsequently wounded conducting combat operations against the Taliban in the Helmand Province. Evan received a Purple Heart for his actions. Evan is a lifelong student of history, one of his passions. He conducted the research for his current 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 Evan Reichenthal.

November 21

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

New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 19, 1770).

“SCONCES.”

The partnership of Abeel and Byvanck regularly advertised in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury in 1770.  While it is difficult to determine the effectiveness of their marketing efforts, the fact that they repeatedly placed new advertisements advising consumers about the merchandise they offered for sale suggests that they considered advertising a good investment.  Like other merchants and shopkeepers, they often listed items currently in stock, though sometimes they instead merely emphasized that shoppers had many choices among a “general Assortment” or “very large ASSORTMENT.”

Most purveyors of consumer goods tended to place a single advertisement to promote all of them.  Such advertisements often attracted attention due to the amount of space they occupied on the page.  Abeel and Byvanck, on the other hand, experimented with placing multiple advertisements in a single issue.  Rather than the length of their notices drawing the eye, instead it was the repetition intended to attract attention.  Abeel and Byvank’s enterprise became more memorable as a result of repeatedly encountering their advertisements.

New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 19, 1770).

Readers of the November 19, 1770, edition of the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury spotted advertisements placed by Abeel and Byvank on the first and last pages.  An advertisement for ironmongery ran on the first page followed by another for looking glasses on the final page.  In addition to placing multiple advertisements, the partners also relied on headlines in oversized fonts drawing the eyes of prospective customers.  The word “SCONCES” in the notice about looking glasses appeared in a font larger than any other on the page.  Similarly, the word “NAILS” used a font that dwarfed any other on the first page except for the title of the newspaper in the masthead.  In each instance, the large font helped to create white space that further distinguished Abeel and Byvanck’s advertisements from news items and other advertisements on pages that consisted of dense paragraphs of text.

Viewed through twenty-first-century eyes, Abeel and Byvanck’s advertisements do not appear particularly sophisticated.  Considered in the context of eighteenth-century advertising practices, however, their notices possessed elements that made them notable.  Placing multiple advertisements in a single issue helped to establish name recognition, enhancing their reputation as purveyors of goods through repetition.  Savvy choices about font size increased the likelihood that readers would spot their advertisements and take note that Abeel and Byvanck actively participated in the marketplace, especially as it was represented on the printed page.

November 20

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

South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1770).

“DOUBLE BEER, fine ALE, TABLE and SMALL BEER.”

Robert Wells, the printer of the South-Carolina and American General Gazette, had too much news and advertising to include all of it in a standard four-page issue on November 20, 1770.  Like other printers who found themselves in that position, he distributed a supplement with the surplus content.  Both news and advertising appeared in the standard issue, but the supplement consisted entirely of advertisements.

Taking into account the number of advertisements that did not make it into the standard issue, Wells used a smaller sheet for the supplement.  That decision led to an unusual format for the supplement.  Each page of the standard issue featured four columns, but each page of the supplement had only three columns.  Two of those ran from top to bottom of the page, as usual, but Wells printed the final column perpendicular to the others.

Why such an awkward format?  It saved time while also maximizing the amount of content Wells could squeeze onto the page.  Most of the advertisements ran in previous issues.  The type had already been set.  Wells wished to use it again rather than investing time in resetting type to fit a page of a different size.  The smaller sheet allowed him to insert two columns of the usual width.  With the remaining space, he rotated the advertisements and formed columns that ran perpendicular to the others.  Wells managed to fit three of these perpendicular columns, but that left a small space at the bottom of the page.

Rather than waste that remaining space by leaving it blank, Wells finally opted to set type for a narrower column.  On one side of the page this permitted him to include two more short advertisements, one for beer and ale and the other for candles.  On the other side he inserted a notice from the Charleston Library Society calling on members to return books.  Engaging with these advertisements required active reading and further manipulation of the page by subscribers.

Wells was simultaneously ingenious and frugal in designing the format for the advertising supplement that accompanied the November 20 edition of the South-Carolina and American General Gazette.  His competitor, Charles Crouch, found himself in a similar position when it came to supplements for the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, choosing to eliminate white space between columns in order to make the content fit the page without having to reset the type.  Publishing advertisements generated important revenues for newspaper printers, but they were not so lucrative to prevent printers from carefully managing the additional expenses of producing advertising supplements.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 20, 1770

GUEST CURATOR:  Kevin Nguyen

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 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 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.

Nov 20 1770 - Essex Gazette Slavery 1
Essex Gazette (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 1
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 2
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 3
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 4
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 5
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 6
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 7
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1770).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 8
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 9
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 10
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 11
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 6
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 7
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 3
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 4
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 5
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 20, 1770).

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Nov 20 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 6
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 20, 1770).

November 19

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

Boston Evening-Post (November 19, 1770).

“Ames’s ALMANACK is now in the Press, and will be published in a few Days.”

Was it news or advertising or both?  Thomas Fleet and John Fleet, printers of the Boston Evening-Post, noted that “Ames’s ALMANACK is now in the Press, and will be published in a few Days” in the November 19, 1770, edition.  This note was one of several items collected together as news from Boston.  The various items from the city amounted to more than a column, but a short section included brief reports about local deaths, ships in port, and Ames’s almanac.  The Fleets informed readers of the death of Elizabeth Langdon, widow of Deacon Josiah Langdon, and advised that the funeral and procession would take place the next day “if the Weather be fair.”  The printers also made note of the death of Mary Collson, the wife of leather dresser Adam Collson and daughter of Solomon Kneeland.  They reported that the “Glasgow Man of War arrived her from the same Place” and the “Mermaid Man of War was to Winter at Halifax.”  The Fleets concluded this list of brief updates with the note about Ames’s almanac, adorning it with a manicule to enhance its visibility.

That was the end of the news in that edition of the Boston Evening-Post.  Paid notices comprised the remainder of the contents.  The Fleets did not present the notice about the almanac as a freestanding advertisement, but they did treat is as a transition from news items they selected for publication and advertisements submitted by merchants, shopkeepers, artisans, auctioneers, and others.  The strategic placement may have allowed them to capture the attention of readers who perused the issue for news without intending to examine the advertisements, position it as a final news items before the advertisements commenced.  This served their own interests as entrepreneurs.  Several variations of the popular Ames’s Astronomical Diary or Almanack for the Year of Our Lord Christ 1771 hit the market in the fall of 1770, but this was probably the version with an imprint that stated it was “Printed and Sold by the Printers and Booksellers” of Boston.  Within the next several weeks, Richard Draper would advertise it in the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter, Edes and Gill would advertise it in the Boston-Gazette, and the Fleets would advertise it in the Boston-Evening Post.  At that time, the Fleets devised a freestanding advertisement that ran among other advertisements rather than placing a notice within or adjacent to the news.

In advance of the almanac’s publication, the Fleets alerted prospective customers that an edition of Ames’s almanac would soon be available for sale at their printing office.  They used their access to the press to craft an announcement that appeared to be news even as it promoted a product that the printers had an interest in supplying to the public.  The placement of the notice as a transition between news and advertising was strategic.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 19, 1770

GUEST CURATOR:  Kevin Nguyen

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 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 purport to own enslaved people were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of 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.

Nov 19 1770 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 1
Boston-Gazette (November 19, 1770).

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Nov 19 1770 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 2
Boston-Gazette (November 19, 1770).

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Nov 19 1770 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 3
Boston-Gazette (November 19, 1770).

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Nov 19 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 1
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 19, 1770).

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Nov 19 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 2
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 19, 1770).

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Nov 19 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 3
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 19, 1770).

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Nov 19 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 4
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 19, 1770).

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Nov 19 1770 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Chronicle (November 19, 1770).

November 18

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

South-Carolina Gazette (November 15, 1770).

“ABSENTED herself … a tall stout NEGRO … named LUCY.”

Many of the advertisements in the November 15, 1770, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette offered enslaved men, women, and children for sale, but several others countered those stories of exploitation with stories of liberation.  That was not how Mordecai Myers, John Beale, or James Roulain saw it when they described the Black people known to them as Lucy, Sue, and Agrippa who had “ABSENTED” themselves or “RUN AWAY,” as their advertisements proclaimed in capital letters to catch the attention of readers.  Yet Lucy, Sue, Agrippa, and countless other enslaved people knew that they had not “RUN AWAY.”  Instead, they liberated themselves from the enslavers who held them in bondage.

Yet claiming freedom was not as easy as putting distance between themselves and those who treated them as commodities.  Myers, Beale, and Roulain placed advertisements in a newspaper that circulated in Charleston, throughout South Carolina, and beyond.  They provided descriptions of Lucy, Sue, and Agrippa.  They offered rewards for capturing and returning them as well as rewards for information that led to the conviction of anyone, white or Black, who helped or “harboured” Lucy, Sue, and Agrippa.  Beale and Roulain warned “Masters of Vessels” not to transport these fugitives seeking freedom to other colonies.

Myers, Beale, and Roulain suggested some of the strategies that Lucy, Sue, and Agrippa deployed to make good on their escape from bondage.  Myers noted that Lucy wore “a Callico Petticoat and Jacket,” but suspected that she would change her clothing to elude detection since he “took other Cloaths with her.”  Beale suspected that Sue had the assistance of an enslaved man, Mingo, since the two had been spotted together in Charleston.  For his part, Roulain could not conceive of Agrippa desiring liberty for himself.  He asserted that “some malicious Person” persuaded the enslaved man to depart since Agrippa “always behaved himself extremely well” over the course of eighteenth years laboring on Roulain’s schooner.

These enslavers and many others throughout the colonies who placed such advertisements attempted to enlist others in a culture of surveillance that helped to maintain slavery.  They presented descriptions with the intention that readers, whether or not they were enslavers, would scrutinize Black people they encountered, carefully assessing their bodies, clothing, and comportment.  They offered rewards as a means of enticing assistance in capturing enslaved people who liberated themselves and returning them to bondage while simultaneously threatening legal action against anyone who exhibited the courage, compassion, or character to aid enslaved men and women who seized their own liberty.  The press that so often promoted liberty for white colonists in the era of the American Revolution was also an important tool in curtailing liberty for enslaved Africans and African Americans.

November 17

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

Providence Gazette (November 17, 1770).

“A Collection of HYMNS for social Worship … By that eminent and illustrious Servant of Christ, the late Rev. GEORGE WHITEFIELD.”

In the weeks after George Whitefield’s death in Newburyport, Massachusetts, on September 30, 1770, printers, booksellers, and others supplied the grieving public with commemorative items that honored the memory of one of the most influential ministers associated with the religious revivals now known as the Great Awakening.  The commodification of Whitefield’s death was widespread.  Advertisements for broadsides and books appeared in newspapers from New England to South Carolina.  As colonists joined together in mourning the minister, they also joined together to participate in a culture of consumption inspired by his death.

Garrat Noel, a bookseller in New York, advertised titles by Whitefield already in his inventory.  John Carter, the printer of the Providence Gazette, on the other hand, saw an opportunity to turn a profit by reprinting Whitefield’s popular Collection of Hymns for Social Worship.  He inserted a subscription notice in the November 17 edition of the Providence Gazette, calling on prospective buyers to indicate their interest by “subscribing” for their own copies.  Subscription notices helped printers assess demand for proposed publications.  As Carter explained in his advertisement, “As soon as a Sufficiency of Subscriptions are obtained barely to defray the Charge of Printing, the Work will be prepared for the Press.”  If he did not attract enough subscribers then he would not lose money on the enterprise.  As a means of confirming their commitment, Carter asked subscribers to pay half “at subscribing” and the other half upon delivery.

Carter made several marketing appeals to entice subscribers to reserve their copies.  They should acquire it, he argued, as a means of religious edification.  “This valuable Work,” the printer stated, “forms of itself a Body of Divinity, and ought to be in the Hands of every Christian.”  Furthermore, it was a bargain.  The previous twelve editions printed in London sold for twice as much as Carter charged for his American edition.  If that was not reason enough, then prospective subscribers needed to take into account the politics of making this purchase.  Carter asserted that the hymnal would be printed on “good Paper, of the Manufacture of America,” rather than imported paper that had been subject to duties under the Townshend Acts until only very recently.  Subscribers could demonstrate their righteousness in honoring the memory of Whitefield while simultaneously encouraging domestic production that served as an alternative to relying on imported goods.