What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“To Ride as Carrier … in order to carry News Papers.”
The first two advertisements in the August 17, 1770, edition of the New-Hampshire Gazette concerned the operations of the newspaper. Quite likely, the printers exercised their control of the press to give those notices a privileged place. The first advertisement, repeated from the previous issue, acknowledged the upcoming fourteenth anniversary of the newspaper and contained Daniel Fowle and Robert Fowle’s call on subscribers, advertisers, and others who owed debts to settle accounts or face legal action.
James Templeton addressed the residents of Amherst, Wilton, Temple, Petersborough, New Dublin, Marlborough, Keen, Walpole, Charlestown, Chesterfield, Westmoreland, Hinsdale, Winchester, Swansey, and other town in “the extreme Parts of the Province” to offer his services to “Ride as Carrier or Post … in order to carry News Papers.” He promised to be “punctual and faithful” in his delivery even as he endeavored to get the newspapers to subscribers “as cheap as possible at that great Distance.”
While not overseen directly by the Fowles, Templeton’s enterprise stood to benefit them as proprietors of the New-Hampshire Gazette through maintaining or even increasing readership. Templeton also revealed how quickly readers in “the extreme Parts of the Province” received their newspapers. He proposed meeting the rider from Portsmouth who carried the newspapers as far as Amherst on Mondays. The Fowles published the New-Hampshire Gazette on Fridays. That meant that half a week elapsed before each new edition made it to the carrier who delivered the newspaper to the more remote towns in the colony. Even more time passed as Templeton rode his circuit through the various towns.
Printers and their associates frequently commented on the production and distribution of the news in the advertisements they inserted in eighteenth-century newspapers. It seems unlikely that it was a coincidence that Templeton’s advertisement immediately followed the Fowles’s advertisement. The printers sought to facilitate distribution of their publication even as they also attempted to collect on debts owed to the printing office.