Welcome, Guest Curator Mary Bohane

Mary Bohane is a senior majoring in History at Assumption College. She is also minoring in Philosophy. She most enjoys studying the Cold War and the subsequent fall of the Soviet Union. She previously curated the Slavery Adverts 250 Project during the week of March 25-31.  She will be presenting on her work on the Adverts 250 Project at Assumption College’s 24th annual Undergraduate Symposium.

Welcome, Mary Bohane!

Slavery Advertisements Published April 20, 1768

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.

Apr 20 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 1
Georgia Gazette (April 20, 1768).

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Apr 20 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 2
Georgia Gazette (April 20, 1768).

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Apr 20 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 3
Georgia Gazette (April 20, 1768).

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Apr 20 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 4
Georgia Gazette (April 20, 1768).

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Apr 20 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 5
Georgia Gazette (April 20, 1768).

April 19

GUEST CURATOR:  Anna MacLean

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

Apr 19 - 4:19:1768 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 19, 1768).

TO BE SOLD … A PARCEL of valuable SLAVES.”

In this advertisement from the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Edward Oats announced that he intended to sell “A PARCEL of valuable SLAVES.” The slaves originally belonged to the estate of Mary Frost. This advertisement shocked me with how this group of enslaved men and women were characterized as merchandise to be purchased. In addition, the details associated with the process astounded me. Edward Oats wrote that “Twelve months credit will be given, paying interest, and giving approved security, the property not to be altered till the conditions are complied with.” This set of terms and conditions sounds comparable to buying furniture or appliances in the twenty-first century.

Furthermore, I was intrigued with the advertisement because the author chose to incorporate the many skills held by individuals among this group of slaves. They included “sawyers, mowers, a very good caulker, a tanner, a compleat tight cooper, a sawyer, squarer and rough carpenter.” In the midst of my research I observed that slaves tended to be sold in parcels, or large groups, in the southern colonies more frequently than in the northern colonies. Often, the skills and talents of slaves were highlighted by newspaper advertisements as a method of attracting buyers, especially plantation owners. According to Daniel C. Littlefield in “The Varieties of Slave Labor,” eighteenth-century plantation owners “tried to maintain self-sufficiency based on the varied skills of their slaves.” Although the vast majority of African slaves were purchased specifically for agricultural work, enslaved peoples also found themselves performing a number of skilled functions to guarantee overall efficiency on plantations.

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:  Carl Robert Keyes

Although Edward Oats and the readers of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal had no way of knowing it, within a decade April 19 would become one of the most important days in American history. Seven years after the publication of this advertisement armed hostilities broke out between colonists and Britain at Concord and Lexington in Massachusetts, initiating a new phase in the imperial crisis and eventually resulting in the Declaration of Independence and a war that lasted the better part of a decade.

Americans continue to commemorate April 19 today.  In Massachusetts it is known as Patriots’ Day, a state holiday observed on the Monday that falls closest to April 19.  The Boston Marathon takes place on Patriots’ Day.  This year residents of Massachusetts received an extension on filing their taxes until Tuesday, April 17 because the traditional tax day, April 15, fell on a Sunday, followed by Patriots’ Day on Monday. Beyond Massachusetts, Americans have been celebrating the 243rd anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride and the battles at Concord and Lexington, though historians have turned to social media and other public history platforms to offer more complete and nuanced portraits of events than Henry Wadsworth Longfellow etched in popular memory in the poem he composed about the “midnight message of Paul Revere” in 1860.

In the midst of these commemorations of liberty and resistance to British oppression, Anna has chosen an advertisement that reminds us that freedom had varied meanings to different people in early America.  Edward Oats had seen the Stamp Act enacted and repealed, only to be replaced by the Declaratory Act and the Townshend Act.  If he read the newspaper in which he advertised “A PARCEL of valuable SLAVES,” he had been exposed to news from throughout the colonies about efforts to resist Parliament by consuming goods produced in the colonies rather than imported from England.  He would have also encountered the series of “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania” outlining the limits of Parliament’s authority.

Even as white Americans grappled with these political issues, they bought and sold enslaved men, women, and children, often acknowledging the skills they possessed yet obstinately refusing to acknowledge their humanity.  These “SLAVES” and “wenches,” however, had their own ideas about liberty.  As other advertisements in newspapers throughout the colonies indicate, many slaves seized their freedom by running away from the masters who held them in bondage.  As we once again celebrate the milestones of April 19, this advertisement for “A PARCEL of valuable SLAVES” reminds us to take a broad view of the revolutionary era in order to tell a more complete story of the American past.

Slavery Advertisements Published April 19, 1768

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.

Apr 19 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 19, 1768).

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Apr 19 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 19, 1768).

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Apr 19 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 19, 1768).

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Apr 19 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 19, 1768).

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Apr 19 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 19, 1768).

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Apr 19 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 6
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 19, 1768).

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Apr 19 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 7
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 19, 1768).

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Apr 19 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 8
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 19, 1768).

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Apr 19 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 9
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 19, 1768).

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Apr 19 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 10
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 19, 1768).

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Apr 19 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 11
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 19, 1768).

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Apr 19 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 19, 1768).

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Apr 19 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 19, 1768).

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Apr 19 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 3
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 19, 1768).

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Apr 19 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 4
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 19, 1768).

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Apr 19 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 5
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 19, 1768).

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Apr 19 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Supplement Slavery 6
Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 19, 1768).

April 18

GUEST CURATOR:  Anna MacLean

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

Apr 18 - 4:18:1768 New-York Gazette Weekly Post-Boy
New-York Gazette: Or, the Weekly Post-Boy (April 18, 1768).

“TO BE SOLD … BEST HYSON TEA.”

An advertisement in the April 18, 1768, issue of the New-York Gazette: Or, the Weekly Post-Boy announced “BEST HYSON TEA” in addition to “Mustard, Raisins, Currants, Figs, Chocolate, with other Kinds of Grocery.” I felt compelled to select this advertisement because it sounds absurd to conceptualize a time when America didn’t “run on Dunkin’” coffee (a testament to marketing in modern America). However, by similar means, tea drinkers in colonial America looked forward to the caffeine buzz found in their kettles and teacups.

Hyson tea, characterized by Oliver Pluff & Co. as having a long twisted appearance, was a favorite among American colonists. According to the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum, during the first half of the eighteenth-century tea was a costly luxury that only a small percentage of the colonies’ population could afford. By the middle of the century, tea was in high demand throughout the colonies and costs decreased making it an everyday beverage for the vast majority. Over time, the American colonies had evolved into a province of tea drinkers.

Yet drinking tea was far more than a hobby in colonial America but rather an “instrument of sociability,” according to the review of Rodris Roth’s “Tea Drinking in 18th-Century America” on Colonial Quills. An invitation to drink tea was an invitation to a social event, perhaps a small, informal gathering or maybe an elegant dinner party.

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:  Carl Robert Keyes

In addition to the “other Kinds of Grocery” that he sold at his shop on Beaver Street in New York, Isaac Noble also advertised “all Kinds of French Liquors” and listed eight varieties.  Since Anna chose to examine one of Noble’s wares that remains popular today (even if it has not retained the cultural currency it enjoyed in eighteenth-century America), I decided to take a closer look at some of these other beverages that colonial Americans drank but that might be less familiar to consumers today.

The Oxford English Dictionarydescribes “Parfaite Amour” as “a sweet liqueur of Dutch origin, flavoured with lemon, cloves, cinnamon, and coriander, and coloured red or purple.”  In addition to the taste, colonists may have been entertained by the color!  Several other items on Noble’s list appear to have been liqueurs as well, including “Anise,” “Essence of Tea,” “Essence of Coffee,” and “Oil of Hazle Nuts.”  While it may be fairly easy to imagine the flavor and composition of each of those “French Liquors,” the “Oil of Venus” presents more of a challenge.  One Household Encyclopedia published in the middle of the nineteenth century includes recipes for both Oil of Jupiter and Oil of Venus.  It describes Oil of Venus as brandy infused with caraway, anise, mace, and orange rinds and mixed with sugar.  Published nearly a century after Noble’s advertisement appeared in the New-York Gazette: Or, the Weekly Post-Boy, that recipe may not have been the same as the “Oil of Venus” colonists drank, but the mixture of spices does appear consistent with methods for distilling the “Parfaite Amour” listed immediately before it.  The nature of the “Free Mason’s Cordial” remains more elusive, but it turns out that the “Usquebaugh” was not as exotic as the name might suggest. The Oxford English Dictionary indicates “usquebaugh” is an Irish and Scottis Gaelic word for whisky.  Like tea, usquebaugh/whisky remains a popular beverage today, even if the average person does not consume either in the same quantities as colonists did in the eighteenth century.

The various “Kinds of French Liquors” advertised by Noble may not seem readily identifiable to twenty-first-century consumers, at least not by the names used to describe them in the eighteenth century, but several continue to be sold and consumed today. As a result of advances in marketing practices, some are now better known by specific brand names rather than the general descriptions deployed in the colonial era.

Welcome, Guest Curator Anna MacLean

Anna MacLean is a senior majoring in History and minoring in Elementary Education at Assumption College. She was inducted into Phi Alpha Theta, the History Honor Society, at the conclusion of her junior year. Anna was particularly inspired by her high school history teacher who sparked her interest in the field. Her favorite historical topics include Latin American history and several different eras of American history, including the Roaring Twenties and the Cold War. Beyond her studies, Anna enjoys spending her free time training in Olympic weightlifting. She served as curator of the Slavery Adverts 250 Project during the week of April 8-14, 2018.

Welcome, Anna MacLean!

Slavery Advertisements Published April 18, 1768

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.

Apr 18 - Boston Chronicle Slavery 1
Boston Chronicle (April 18, 1768).

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Apr 18 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 1
Boston Evening-Post (April 18, 1768).

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Apr 18 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 2
Boston Evening-Post (April 18, 1768).

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Apr 18 - Boston Post-Boy Slavery 1
Boston Post-Boy (April 18, 1768).

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Apr 18 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 1
Boston-Gazette (April 18, 1768).

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Apr 18 - New-York Gazette Weekly Mercury Slavery 1
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 18, 1768).

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Apr 18 - New-York Gazette Weekly Mercury Slavery 2
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 18, 1768).

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Apr 18 - New-York Gazette Weekly Mercury Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 18, 1768).

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Apr 18 - New-York Gazette Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 1
New-York Gazette or the Weekly Post-Boy (April 18, 1768).

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Apr 18 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Chronicle (April 18, 1768).

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Apr 18 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 1
South Carolina Gazette (April 18, 1768).

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Apr 18 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 2
South Carolina Gazette (April 18, 1768).

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Apr 18 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 3
South Carolina Gazette (April 18, 1768).

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Apr 18 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 4
South Carolina Gazette (April 18, 1768).

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Apr 18 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 5
South Carolina Gazette (April 18, 1768).

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Apr 18 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 6
South Carolina Gazette (April 18, 1768).

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Apr 18 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 7
South Carolina Gazette (April 18, 1768).

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Apr 18 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 8
South Carolina Gazette (April 18, 1768).

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Apr 18 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 9
South Carolina Gazette (April 18, 1768).

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Apr 18 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 10
South Carolina Gazette (April 18, 1768).

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Apr 18 - South Carolina Gazette Slavery 11
South Carolina Gazette (April 18, 1768).