April 27

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

Apr 27 - 4:27:1768 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (April 27, 1768).

“The proposal made in the letter published against me in your last.”

When last we saw Lachlan McGillivray and John Joachim Zubly the rivals had composed such extensive advertisements accusing each other of misconduct in their real estate enterprises and interactions with one another that James Johnston published a supplement to the Georgia Gazette that consisted entirely of their dispute. Zubly had concluded his lengthy retort by stating, “Nothing shall ever be wanting on my part to shew that with a me a law-suit was not a matter of choice, but painful necessity; and whatever you may think or say of me, or do against me, I shall be glad of every opportunity to approve myself your real wel[l] wisher, till then I bid you right heartily FAREWELL.”

Yet it was not time for farewell quite yet. Two weeks after the supplement carried all three advertisements so far published by the adversaries, McGillivray inserted yet another notice in the April 20, 1768, edition of the Georgia Gazette. He could not pass up responding to Zubly’s “very elaborate performance.” Indeed, Zubly’s most recent advertisement had extended more than a page (or one-quarter of the length of a standard issue of the newspaper that carried it). McGillivrary described Zubly’s “very elaborate performance” as “such a piece of scurrility, (truly worthy of the author)” that it “does not deserve an answer in the Gazette.” Yet McGillivray published a response that extended more than half a column, not for his own benefit but in order to defend the reputation of McGillivray’s associate (who had so far declined to inject himself into the argument unfolding among the advertisements in the Georgia Gazette). McGillivray concluded his newest public missive by echoing Zubly: “I will thank you for your kind wishes when I think them sincere. In my turn bid you farewell.”

Having previously “bid you right heartily FAREWELL” to McGillivray, Zubly chose not to engage him directly when he decided to publish yet another advertisement. He could not let the notice from April 20 pass unremarked, but he addressed his new response to “Mr. Printer” and made an appeal to readers of the Georgia Gazette to review the series of advertisements and judge for themselves that he was the aggrieved party who had been abused by McGillivray. He ended his advertisement by returning to the real estate dispute that had launched the entire exchange, issuing instructions that he “forbids all persons to trespass on or plant any of his lands, especially those on Augustin’s Creek.”

This exchange was a windfall for James Johnston, the printer of the Georgia Gazette. At the very least, it generated significant advertising revenue that supported the newspaper, but it may have yielded other benefits. Readers who had no stake in the real estate dispute may have been entertained, amused, or infuriated by the antics of McGillivray and Zubly as their dispute played out in a series of advertisements. As a result, readers may have anticipated new issues to find out what happened next. Non-subscribers may have made greater efforts to obtain copies of the new issues in hopes of encountering more advertisements that prolonged the feud. In the process, they would have been exposed to the remainder of the news and advertising, benefiting both the printer and the advertisers. McGillivray and Zubly produced their own serial in the middle of the eighteenth century.

Apr 27 - 4:20:1768 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (April 20, 1768).

April 6

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

Apr 6 - 4:6:1768 Georgia Gazette Supplement
Supplement to the Georgia Gazette (April 6, 1768).

“WHEN I saw myself attacked again by your advertisement …”

In the spring of 1768 John Joachim Zubly and Lachlan McGillivray litigated a dispute over real estate via a series of advertisements.  It began when an “advertisement was stuck up” by McGillivray and George Galphin “at divers places at Augusta and New-Windsor” in Georgia in early March.  Zubly responded by placing an advertisement in the March 16 edition of the Georgia Gazette.  The same advertisement ran in the following issue.  After that, the dispute escalated as Zubly and McGillivray published additional advertisements attacking each other.

Zubly’s advertisement ran for a third time in the March 30 edition, but by then McGillivray had composed a response of a similar length that ran on another page.  They were the longest advertisements in the issue, each occupying significantly more space than any of the other paid notices.  This windfall for the printer continued the following week when Zubly submitted a response to McGillivray’s response. Zubly meticulously addressed McGillivray’s counterattack, moving through his assertions charge by charge.  He did so in such detail that his new advertisement extended more than a page.

James Johnston, the printer of the Georgia Gazette, did not have sufficient space to publish this war of words in a regular issue.  Like most other colonial newspapers, a standard issue of the Georgia Gazette consisted of four pages printed on a broadside folded in half.  Johnston filled the April 6 edition with news and other advertisements.  He simultaneously distributed a two-page supplement that consisted entirely of the advertisements that so far comprised the Zubly-McGillivray dispute (with the exception of the broadsides that had been “stuck up at diverse places at Augusta and New-Windsor”).  The advertisements no longer ran on separate pages; instead, the printer gathered them together chronologically in order to present a coherent story for readers.

Throughout the colonies the number of supplements to weekly editions of newspapers increased in the first months of 1768.  Most of those supplements carried news about deteriorating relationships with Great Britain or selections from John Dickinson’s series of “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania” or they carried advertisements that did not fit in the regular issue because the news and “Letters” had crowded them out.  The supplement to the April 6 edition of the Georgia Gazettewas different.  It was not the ongoing dispute between the colonies and Parliament that prompted it but instead a personal dispute between two colonists who disagreed about a real estate transaction.  For Zubly and McGillivrary – and perhaps some readers of the Georgia Gazette– this drama was as compelling as the unfolding feud with Parliament.  Each considered it important enough to make a handsome investment in publishing it for all to see among the advertisements in the colony’s only newspaper.

Apr 6 - 4:6:1768 Page 1 Georgia Gazette Supplement
Supplement to the Georgia Gazette (April 6, 1768).

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Apr 6 - 4:6:1768 Page 2 Georgia Gazette Supplement
Supplement to the Georgia Gazette (April 6, 1768).

March 16

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

Mar 16 - 3:16:1768 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (March 16, 1768).

“WHEREAS the following advertisement was stuck up at divers places …”

John Joachim Zubly placed an advertisement concerning a dispute over real estate in the March 16, 1768, edition of the Georgia Gazette. In it, Zubly responded to a separate advertisement that George Galphin and Lachlan McGillivray “stuck up at divers places at Augusta and New-Windsor the beginning of this month.” Zubly opened his own advertisement with an extensive quotation from Galphin and McGillivray’s advertisement, providing readers with the context they needed to understand his rebuttal.

Although the Adverts 250 Project usually features advertisements for consumer goods and services rather than real estate, this notice merits inclusion because it provides a glimpse of another medium used for advertising in eighteenth-century America. Newspaper notices comprised the vast majority of advertising of the period, but advertisers also distributed broadsides, handbills, trade cards, billheads, magazine wrappers, catalogs, and a variety of other printed media for the purposes of disseminating information or attempting to incite demand for goods and services. Although Galphin and McGillivray’s advertisement concerned real estate, others “stuck up” advertisements that promoted the goods they sold in their shops. On occasion, the charges recorded in printers’ ledgers indicate that advertisers paid an additional fee for a boy from the shop to paste their advertisements around town, saving them the time and effort of distributing the advertisements themselves.

Based on Zubly’s description, the advertisement “stuck up at diverse places at Augusta and New-Windsor” was most likely a broadside, a sheet printed on only one side, the eighteenth-century equivalent of a poster (though the size of this particular item may have been closer to a handbill or flier). Zubly responded in print, intending that his advertisement in the Georgia Gazette would reach as many colonists as possible, but he may have also commissioned his own broadside to post in the same places that Galphin and McGillivray distributed theirs.

Even more ephemeral than newspapers, most eighteenth-century broadsides have likely been lost over time. Zubly’s advertisement, however, testifies to the rich landscape of advertising that colonists encountered in their daily lives beyond the pages of the newspapers.