What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago this week?
“He continues to teach … whatever is requisite to fit the young Students for Admission into any College or University.”
In the fall of 1773, J. Peter Tetard sought students for the boarding school he operated “near King’s Bridge,” about fifteen miles outside of New York. In an advertisement in the October 14 edition of the New-York Journal, he expressed his appreciation for “the encouragement” he received since opening the school over the summer, suggesting both that the enterprise earned the approval of prominent colonizers and that some parents already enrolled their children in the school. Yet he still had space for more students.
To entice parents to send their sons to his boarding school, Tetard made an appeal that continues to resonate today. His curriculum encompassed “whatever is requisite to fit the young Students for Admission into any College or University.” Tetard depicted matriculating at his academy as preparation that would lead to subsequent academic success. To that end, he taught “the French Language in the most expeditious Manner, together with some of the most useful Sciences.” Those included geography, ancient and modern history, logic, and “the learned Languages.” His pupils acquired the ability to engage in “the skilful reading of the Classics.” All of this set Tetard’s students on the path for further study at one of the colleges in the colonies or perhaps even a university in Europe, depending on their status and wealth.
Beyond the curriculum, Tetard emphasized his own role as instructor. He described himself as “Late Minister of the Reformed French Church” in New York. Most colonizers in New York remained deeply suspicious of both the French and Catholicism at the time, making it imperative that Tetard establish his commitment to Protestantism. For parents unfamiliar with his reputation, he stated that his “Character and Capacity are well-known” as a result of residing “with Credit in the City of New-York for upwards of fifteen Years.” Parents of prospective pupils who had concerns about Tetard’s faith or acumen as an instructor could make inquiries of friends and acquaintances who had lived in the city at the same time as the minister-turned-schoolmaster. Tetard pledged that “Gentlemen who will entrust him with the Education of their Children, may depend on their Expectations being properly answered,” in terms of academic instruction, moral formation, and spiritual guidance.
Tetard also commented briefly on the building that housed his boarding school, noting that it “is remarkable for its healthy Situation, commanding one of the finest Prospects” in the colony. In his advertisement, he introduced three elements that remain important in marketing education in the twenty-first century. Tetard emphasized the quality of the faculty, the benefits associated with the facilities, and the preparation necessary to succeed in subsequent endeavors.