What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“ADVERTISEMENTS of some Consequence to the Parties, are brought in so late, that the immediate Insertion of them in the GAZETTE, would delay the Publication thereof.”
Thomas Powell and Company aimed to provide the best possible service for advertisers who chose the South-Carolina Gazette, such as disseminating their notices to the public as quickly as possible. That included publishing supplements when necessary. With a few exceptions, most American newspapers published before the Revolution consisted of a single weekly issue. Powell, Hughes, and Company circulated a new edition of the South-Carolina Gazette on Thursdays in 1772. Less than two weeks after the death of Edward Hughes, Powell and Company distributed a South-Carolina Gazette Extraordinary on Monday, August 10.
A notice at the top of the first column on the first page explained the purpose of the supplement. “[I]t frequently happens,” Powell and Company declared, “that ADVERTISEMENTS of some Consequence to the Parties, are brought in so late, that the immediate Insertion of them in the GAZETTE would delay the Publication thereof beyond the stated Day.” In addition, “others are omitted to make Room for fresh Intelligence” or news just arrived in the printing office. Powell and Company recognized that they had a duty to both subscribers and advertisers, prompting them to “NOW assure the Public, that in EITHER of the above Cases … they will issue a GAZETTE EXTRAORDINARY, as soon after their stated Day as possible.” Publishing supplements minimized delays for both news and paid notices, allowing Powell and Company to fulfill “their Duty, to contribute … to the ENTERTAINMENT, as well as EMOLUMENT, of that Public which so generously supports them.”
The four-page supplement contained both advertising and news, divided nearly evenly between the two. The advertisements included five that offered rewards for the capture and return of enslaved men and women who liberated themselves as well as several others promoting consumer goods and services. Powell and Company inserted a heading for “New Advertisements” on all three pages that carried paid notices, though not all advertisements in the supplement appeared for the first time. Despite these efforts, Powell and Company suggested that more advertising and news flooded into their printing office than would fit in the supplement. That may have been a strategy to underscore the viability of the newspaper following the death of one of the partners. A brief notice at the bottom of final column on the third page, the last item the compositor would have locked into place for the entire supplement, advised that “Several NEW ADVERTISEMENTS, &c. now omitted, shall be inserted in Thursday’s Gazette.” According to their notice on the first page, Powell and Company hoped “to merit a CONTINUANCE” of the support they already received. Hughes no longer participated in publishing the newspaper, yet, the notice suggested, subscribers, advertisers, and the general public could depend on the South-Carolina Gazette being in good hands with Powell.