February 1

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

New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (February 1, 1773).

He most humbly addresses the Fair Sex, requesting their aid.”

John Keating regularly offered “READY MONEY … for CLEAN LINEN RAGS” in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury in the late 1760s and early 1770s.  The papermaker needed as many rags as he could gather to supply his mill with raw materials.  To convince readers to make an effort to collect and submit rags, he developed appeals that emphasized both commerce and devotion to the best interests of the colonies.

In an advertisement that ran on February 1, 1773, for instance, Keating stated that the “advantages that must result to this colony from the establishment of manufactories in it, are so obvious that the subject needs no elucidation.”  Then he elucidated.  “Since paper manufactories were established in Pennsylvania, the money saved and brought into that province, the money saved and brought into the province” amounted to “the many thousand pounds of which is annually drained of[f] by purchasing paper in England.”  Supporting domestic manufactures, goods produced in the colonies, helped to address the trade imbalance with Great Britain.  Keating challenged readers to think about what more they accomplish by working together.  “Might not every shilling of this money be saved?  Have we not materials amongst ourselves?  Is our patriotism all pretence …?

New Yorkers did indeed already have the materials necessary for making paper, clean linen rags.  Keating suggested that women played a vital role in sustaining the patriotic project that he pursued, declaring that he “most humbly addressed the Fair Sex, requesting their aid, without which it will be impossible for him to establish this manufactory upon a respectable or prudent footing.”  He requested that every “frugal matron … hang up a bag … and take care to put every piece of linen that is unfit for any other use, in it.”  When the bag was full, the frugal matron would sell the contents to Keating in an eighteenth-century version of recycling to support a good cause.  The papermaker indicated that in return for the clean linen rags the frugal matron would receive enough money to “supply herself and family with the very essential article of pins.”  Just as significantly, “she will have the satisfaction of being conscious of contributing her part to the advancement of her country.”  Women’s industry served a dual purpose when it manifested patriotism.

The project did not depend solely on those frugal matrons.  Keating also asked “young ladies to co-operate … in saving rags,” though he presented a more romantic rationale to them.  The papermaker asked young women to “observe a very curious remark made by the celebrated Mr. Addison in the Spectator, ‘That a young lady who sends her shift to the paper mill, may very possibly in less than six months, have it returned made into a piece of fair paper, upon which her lover has written a billet doux.’”  Although Keating (and Addision) asked young women to imagine love letters, their shifts and other linen garments may just as likely been transformed into newspapers that kept their households informed about the imperial crisis that faced New York and other colonies.

Women, both “frugal matrons” and “young ladies,” participated in politics and expressed their patriotism when they heeded the call of papermakers who encouraged them to collect clean linen rags.  Similarly, their actions and decisions made an impact when they produced homespun textiles and garments and participated in nonconsumption agreements.  During the era of the American Revolution, both men and women understood that the personal was political.  That included gathering clean linen rags in “a bag in some convenient part of the house.”

April 1

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

Boston Evening-Post (March 30, 1772).

“An ORATION … to commemorate the BLOODY TRAGEDY.”

On the second anniversary of the Boston Massacre, Dr. Joseph Warren delivered “An ORATION … at the Request of the Inhabitants of the Town of BOSTON, to commemorate the BLOODY TRAGEDY of the FIFTH of MARCH, 1770.”  Colonizers gathered to listen to the address, but attending that gathering was not their only means of participating in the commemoration of such a significant event.  Benjamin Edes and John Gill, printers of the Boston-Gazette, published Warren’s “ORATION” and marketed it widely in Massachusetts.

They placed their first advertisement in their own newspaper less than three weeks after Warren addressed “the Inhabitants of the Town.”  Their lengthy notice in the March 23, 1772, edition of the Boston-Gazette included an extensive excerpt about “the ruinous Consequences of standing Armies to free Communities.”  Edes and Gill also stated that they stocked “A few of Mr. LOVELL’S ORATIONS Deliver’d last April, on the same Occasion.”  Prospective customers had an opportunity to collect memorabilia related to the “FATAL FIFTH OF MARCH 1770.”  The following day, Samuel Hall, one of the printers of the Essex Gazette, informed readers that he sold copies of Warren’s address “published in Boston.”  His advertisement did not include an excerpt from the address, nor did subsequent advertisements that Edes and Gill placed in other newspapers in Boston.  They inserted a brief notice in the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter on March 26 and then repeated it in the Boston Evening-Post on March 30.

Edes and Gill advertised widely.  That increased the chances that consumers would see their notices and contemplate purchasing copies of Warren’s “ORATION,” but those patriot printers likely aimed for more than generating sales.  Their advertisements in several newspapers contributed to a culture of commemoration of the American Revolution years before the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord.  Their work in the printing office, publishing newspapers and marketing pamphlets that commemorated the Boston Massacre, played an important role in shaping public opinion as colonizers considered current events and the possibility of declaring independence.

March 23

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

Boston-Gazette (March 23, 1772).

“AN ORATION … TO COMMEMORATE THE BLOODY TRAGEDY.”

Commemoration and commodification of the Boston Massacre commenced just weeks after British soldiers killed several colonizers when they fired into a crowd of protesters on March 5, 1770.  Paul Revere advertised “A PRINT containing a Representation of the late horrid Massacre in King-Street” in the March 26, 1770, edition of the Boston-Gazette.  He appropriated the image from a sketch done by Henry Pelham.  A week later, Pelham advertised “The Fruits of Arbitrary Power, An Original Print, representing the late horrid Massacre in King Street, taken from the Spot” in the April 2 edition of the Boston-Gazette.  A year later, colonizers in Boston determined that public orations should mark the event.  On April 2, 1771, James Lovell delivered “AN Oration … At the Request of the Inhabitants of the Town of Boston; To Commemorate the Bloody Tragedy of the Fifth of March, 1770.”  Not long after that, an advertisement in the April 15 edition of the Boston-Gazette promoted copies for colonizers to purchase.

In subsequent years, the annual oration occurred on March 5.  From 1771 through 1783, this commemorative event attracted more attention in Boston than Independence Day, but after the Treaty of Paris brought the Revolutionary War to an end July 4 became more widely recognized.  On the second anniversary of the Boston Massacre, Joseph Warren gave “AN ORATION … At the REQUEST of the INHABITANTS OF THE TOWN OF BOSTON TO COMMEMORATE THE BLOODY TRAGEDY Of the FIFTH of March, 1770.”  An advertisement quickly appeared in the March 23 edition of the Boston-Gazette, filling nearly two-thirds of a column.  The advertisement occupied so much space because Benjamin Edes and John Gill, the patriot printers of both the Boston-Gazette and the oration, included an extensive excerpt about “the ruinous Consequences of standing Armies to free Communities.”  The printers hoped that by giving prospective customers a taste of what Warren had to say about the “tyranny and oppression” of an “armed soldiery” who “frequently insulted and abused” the residents of Boston that would entice them to purchase the oration and read more.  Doing so also gave them an opportunity to remember the “horrors of THAT DREADFUL NIGHT” and venerate “the mangled bodies of the dead” who perished as a result of the “barbarous caprice of the raging soldiery.”

At the end of the advertisement, Edes and Gill noted that they also stocked “A few of Mr. LOVELL’S ORATIONS Deliver’d last April, on the same Occasion.”  They made it easy for patriotic consumers to collect memorabilia associated with the Boston Massacre.  Commemoration and commodification of that event occurred simultaneously in the years before the colonies declared independence.

November 10

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

Pennsylvania Journal (November 8, 1771).

American FLINT GLASS.”

When Parliament repealed most of the duties on imported goods imposed by the Townshend Acts, leaving only the duty on tea in place, most American merchants counted it as a victory that merited bringing their own nonimportation agreements to end in favor of resuming regular trade with Britain.  Some colonists objected, insisting that they should hold out until Parliament met all of their demands by repealing the duty on tea as well, but they were in the minority.  Merchants and consumers alike welcomed the return to transatlantic business as usual.

That did not, however, prevent American producers from promoting their “domestic manufactures” as alternatives to imported goods.  Henry William Stiegel, for instance, advertised “American FLINT GLASS … made at the factory in Manheim in Lancaster county” in Pennsylvania during the summer of 1771 and into the fall.  Stiegel proclaimed that his product was “equal in quality with any imported from Europe,” reassuring prospective customers that they did not have to sacrifice quality when choosing to support American industry.  He also promised that “merchants, store-keepers and others” could acquire his glass “on very reasonable terms.”  In addition to competitive prices, “Wholesale dealers” received discounts for “buying large quantities.”

Pocket Bottle, attributed to American Flint Glass Manufactory, 1769-1774. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Stiegel also framed purchasing his “American FLINT GLASS” as a patriotic duty for both retailers and consumers, even though the situation between the colonies and Britain was relative calm at the moment.  He declared that “as the proprietor” of the factory in Manheim he “well knows the patriotic spirit of the Americans” and “flatters himself they will encourage the manufactories of their own country” whenever possible instead of purchasing or retailing imported goods.  To help consumers and retailers throughout the region submit orders, Stiegel designated local agents in Philadelphia, Lancaster, and York in Pennsylvania as well as Baltimore in Maryland.

Work attributed to Stiegel and the American Flint Glass Manufactory, including this pocket bottle produced at about the same time he advertised in the Pennsylvania Journal, survives in museums and private collections.  Whether attracted by the quality, price, or invitation to “Buy American,” colonial consumers purchased “domestic manufactures” even as they resumed buying imported goods.  Stiegel managed to garner a share of the market amid the array of choices available. The frequency that he placed notices in newspapers suggests that he apparently believed that advertising aided in that endeavor.

September 18

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

Final page of Robert Bell’s subscription notice for Blackstone’s Commentaries that may (or may not) have been distributed with the September 17, 1771, edition of the South-Carolina and American General Gazette.

“Peaceable, yet active Patriotism.”

Yesterday, the Adverts 250 Project featured Robert Bell’s subscription notice for Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England that Accessible Archives included with the September 17, 1771, edition of the South-Carolina and American General Gazette and addressed the difficulty of determining whether the subscription notice originally accompanied the newspaper.  Today, the marketing strategies deployed by Bell merit consideration.

First, however, consider the format of the subscription notice, a four-page flier.  On the first page, addressed “TO THE AMERICAN WORLD,” Bell encouraged prospective customers throughout the colonies to purchase American editions rather than imported books.  It could also have been published separately as a handbill, similar to the second page featuring two advertisements for books “Lately Published” by Bell, “YORICK’S Sentimental Journal Through FRANCE and ITALY” by Laurence Stern and “HISTORY OF BELISARIUS, THE HEROIC AND HUMANE ROMAN GENERAL” by Jean-François Marmontel.  On the third and fourth pages, Bell promoted William Robertson’s “HISTORY of CHARLES the FIFTH, EMPEROR of GERMANY,” a work he widely advertised in newspapers throughout the colonies, and other American editions.  The flier concluded with a note defending “the legality of literary publications in America.”

Both before and after the American Revolution, Bell established a reputation as one of the most vocal proponents of creating a distinctly American literary market served by printers and publishers in the colonies and, later, the new nation.  Bell advanced both political, economic, and cultural arguments in favor of an American book trade during the imperial crisis.  He opened his address “TO THE AMERICAN WORLD” by proclaiming that “THE inhabitants of this continent have now an easy, and advantageous opportunity of effectually establishing literary manufactures … the establishment of which will absolutely and eventually produce mental improvement, and commercial expansion.”  In addition, purchasing books published in America would result in “saving thousands of pounds” by consumers as well as keep the money on that side of the Atlantic.  Colonists could pay lower prices and, in the process, what they did spend would be “distributed among manufacturers and traders, whose residence upon the continent of course causeth the money to circulate from neighbour to neighbour, and by this circulation in America there is a great probability of its revolving to the very hands from which it originally migrated.”  Supporting domestic manufactures, including American publications, would create stronger local economies, Bell argued.

“American Gentlemen or Ladies” had a patriotic duty to lend their “auspicious patronage” to such projects by informing their local bookseller or printer that they wished to become “intentional purchasers of any of the literary works now in contemplation to be reprinted by subscription in America.”  In so doing, they would “render an essential service to the community, by encouraging native manufactures.  In turn, they “deserve[d] … grateful remembrance—By their country—By posterity.”  These subscribers would also contribute to the enlightenment of the entire community, the “MAN of the WOODS” as well as the “MAN of the COURT.”  In the hyperbolic prose he so often used in his marketing materials, Bell declared that “Americans, do certainly know, if universal encouragement is afforded, to a few publications of literary excellence … they will assuredly create sublime sensations, and effectually expand the human mind towards this most rational, and most dignified of all temporal enjoyments.”  In addition, he described himself and other American printers and publishers as engaging in “peaceable, yet active Patriotism” in making inexpensive American editions of several “literary WORKS” available to consumers.

Bell frequently inserted advertisements with similar messages into newspapers from New England to South Carolina, but those were not his only means of encouraging “THE AMERICAN WORLD” to support domestic manufactures and the creation of an American literary market that would result in self-improvement among readers far and wide.  In subscription notices (which may have been distributed with newspapers on occasion), book catalogs, and broadsides, he advanced the same arguments much more extensively than space in newspapers allowed.

April 15

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

Boston-Gazette (April 15, 1771).

“The most strict Compliance with the Non-Importation Agreement.”

Colonial merchants and shopkeepers often included introductory remarks about the origins of their imported goods in their newspaper advertisements.  In the April 15, 1771, edition of the Boston-Gazette, for instance, William Jones advertised goods “JUST IMPORTED In the Ship LYDIA, JAMES SCOTT, Master, from LONDON.”  Similarly, Hugh Tarbett marketed goods “Imported in the Snow Jenny, Hector Orr, Master, from Glasgow.”  Both followed a format familiar to both advertisers and readers.  Samuel Eliot did so as well, announcing that he carried goods that he “has now IMPORTED in the Ships just arrived from LONDON.”  Eliot added an additional note that he sold those goods “after a long Suspension of Business by his strict Adherence to the late Non Importation Agreement.”  John Hancock did the same.  Like Jones and several others who advertised in that issue, Hancock received goods via the Lydia.  He proclaimed that he offered those items to customers “after the most strict Compliance with the Non-Importation Agreement during its Continuance.”

Eliot and Hancock both signaled their support of the patriot cause and suggested that consumers should purchase goods from them, now that trade with Britain commenced again, because they had faithfully obeyed the boycotts enacted in protest of duties imposed on certain imported goods by the Townshend Acts.  Hancock’s version of events, however, did not match coverage in the Boston Chronicle in the summer of 1769.  The committee of merchants who oversaw compliance with the nonimportation agreement singled out John Mein, loyalist printer of the Boston Chronicle, for continuing to import and sell British goods.  In turn, Mein published an exposé of prominent merchants who publicly claimed to support the nonimportation agreement yet continued to receive goods from Britain.  On August 21, 1769, he listed the cargoes of several ships, the owners of those vessels, and the merchants who ordered and received the goods.  That coverage included a “Manifest of the Cargo of the Brigantine Last Attempt, … Owner, JOHN HANCOCK,” a “Manifest of the Cargo of the Brigantine Lydia, … Owner, JOHN HANCOCK,” and a “Manifest of the Cargo of the Brigantine Paoli, … Owner JOHN HANCOCK.”  Mein called on the “PATRIOTIC GENTLEMAN” who owned those vessels to provide the public with more information.  Over the next two months, Mein continued his critique of Hancock and other patriot leaders.  In late October, he published character sketches that included one for “Johnny Dupe,” a jab at Hancock for duping the public by continuing to profit from importing goods despite claiming to support the boycott.  Not long after that, a mob attacked Mein.  He fled Boston, leaving the Boston Chronicle in the hands of his partner, John Fleeming.  The newspaper folded less than a year later.

Hancock’s claim that he sold an “Assortment of Goods” received from London only after “the most strict Compliance with the Non-Importation Agreement during its Continuance” was a polite fiction, at best.  He attempted to deploy patriotism as part of his marketing strategy, asking supporters of the American cause to endorse his version of events despite evidence to the contrary published in the Boston Chronicle two years earlier.  After all, that incident resulted in the disgrace and flight of a loyalist printer, not the prominent merchant and vocal supporter of the patriot cause.  When it came to marketing, image mattered, perhaps even more than reality.

**********

The Massachusetts Historical Society provides access to the August 21, 1769, edition of the Boston Chronicle via their online collections.

February 20

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

Pennsylvania Chronicle (February 18, 1771).

“We hope to meet with encouragement from the patriotic gentlemen and ladies of this city.”

In January and February 1771, Russel and Moore ran advertisements informing the residents of Philadelphia and its hinterlands that they had “a fine stocking loom a making, in order to weave silk on, in all its different branches.”  That included “breeches and jacket patterns, stockings, mitts, caps, and gloves” adorned with “all different figures and flowers, such as have not heretofore been manufactured in America.”

Russel and Moore launched an enterprise that they framed for consumers as building on other efforts to create commercial opportunities in the colonies.  For quite some time, colonists from New England to Georgia attempted to produce silk.  According to Russel and Moore, “the inhabitants of this city, and places adjacent, have made satisfactory proof or raising raw silk.”  The partners hoped that would inspire others throughout the colonies “to raise such silk in a more extensive manner, which in a short time will find greatly to their advantage.”  For their part, Russel and Moore stood ready “to weave in said loom” and they would “engage to make gentlemen and ladies gloves and mitts” that matched the designs and patterns “wove in any mitt or glove imported from any part of the world.”  Furthermore, they promised the highest standards and quality for the items they produced, predicting it would be “richer in work than any we have seen imported here.”

The partners sought customers among consumers who had been contemplating the benefits of “domestic manufactures,” goods produced in the colonies, for several years.  In response to the Stamp Act and, especially, duties imposed on imported goods by the Townshend Acts, colonists both called for producing more goods in the colonies and encouraged the consumption of those goods as alternatives to imports.  Producers and purveyors of those domestic manufactures addressed that discourse in their advertisements, providing further incentive for consumers to follow through on purchasing goods made locally.  They reminded consumers of the political meanings attached to goods and offered reassurances that they would not sacrifice quality when they chose to “Buy American.”

Russel and Moore did so when they noted that produced items that “have not heretofore been manufactured in America” and requested “encouragement from the patriotic gentlemen and ladies of this city, and places adjacent.”  The partners did their part in producing alternatives to imported goods; in turn, “patriotic gentlemen and ladies” needed to do their part as well.  Russel and Moore reiterated the importance of consumers supporting entrepreneurs who produced goods in the colonies.  “[A]s we are the first persons,” they proclaimed, “that have erected a machine in America, for making of ribbed stockings, or any kind of figured work in said branch, we hope the public will endeavour to encourage a manufactory.”  Russel and Moore promised quality, stating that they would “give full satisfaction to every friend of America.”  In making a call for patriotic consumption, the partners joined many other advertisers who promoted domestic manufactures in the late 1760s and early 1770s.

January 27

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

Pennsylvania Gazette (January 24, 1771).

“All Persons that now choose to encourage American Manufactures.”

On January 24, 1771, Robert Bell continued marketing an American edition of “Robertson’s History of Charles the Fifth” with advertisements in both the New-York Journal and the Pennsylvania Gazette.  In the latter, the flamboyant printer, publisher, bookseller, and auctioneer announced publication of the second volume and promised that the “THIRD VOLUME of this celebrated History is now in the Press, and will soon be finished.”  Bell noted that the second volume was “now ready to be delivered to the Subscribers,” purchasers who reserved copies in advance.  In a nota bene, he advised “SUBSCRIBERS in the Jerseys” to visit Isaac Collins in Burlington or Dunlap Adams in Trenton to retrieve their copies.

Bell also invited those who had not yet subscribed to join the fellowship of their peers who “choose to encourage American Manufactures.”  Both before and, especially, after the American Revolution, Bell was one of the eighteenth-century’s leading proponents of creating a distinctly American literary market in terms of the production of books.  Printers and booksellers imported most of the books they offered for sale, a situation that Bell sought to modify.  In deploying the language of “American Manufactures,” he made this into a political project familiar to both producers and consumers as a result of nonimportation agreements enacted in opposition to the Stamp Act and the Townshend Acts.  Yet prospective customers had another reason to choose Bell’s American edition over an imported alternative:  price.  Bell charged one dollar for each volume of Robertson’s history.  In comparison, “the British Edition cannot be imported for less than Four Dollars each Volume.”  Bell’s customers enjoyed significant savings, acquiring the entire set of the American edition for less than a single volume of the British edition.

Bell concluded his advertisement with some of the verbose language that became a hallmark of his marketing efforts over the course of several decades.  Those who wished to become subscribers by sending their names to Bell or other booksellers “may depend upon Ebullitions of Gratitude.”  Bell’s advertisement incorporated several marketing strategies, including the politics of “American Manufactures,” the financial advantages for customers, and his colorful language and personality.

January 9

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

New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (January 7, 1771).

“ADDRESS To those who possess a PUBLIC SPIRIT.”

When bookseller Robert Bell inserted a notice about upcoming auctions in the January 3, 1771, edition of the New-York Journal, he devoted the second half of the advertisement to promoting an American edition of William Robertson’s multivolume History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V.  He addressed the “real friends to the progress of Literary entertainment, and to the extension of useful Manufactures in a young country.”  Bell advanced a “Buy American” marketing strategy during the period of the imperial crisis that ultimately culminated in the American Revolution.

Later that week, he continued his advertising campaign with another notice in the January 7 edition of the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury.  Bell included some of the copy from the earlier advertisement in this much lengthier iteration.  Both versions highlighted the phrase “THE LAND WE LIVE IN” by printing it in all capitals and centering it on a line of its own within the advertisement, drawing attention to Bell’s proposition that consumers who purchased this work also contributed to the “elevation and enriching” of the colonies.  He enhanced that argument with a headline that described the entire advertisement as an “ADDRESS To those who possess a PUBLIC SPIRIT.”  Potential customers, Bell asserted, had an opportunity to engage in acts of consumption that possessed political significance.

At the same time, the bookseller declared that the American edition was a bargain compared to imported alternatives.  He charged “the moderate price of One Dollar each Volume” for the three volumes, noting that the “British edition cannot be imported for less than Twelve Dollars.”  Colonists could acquire the work at a significant savings, a reward for their role in creating a distinctive American marketplace for the production and consumption of books.  Only the first volume had gone to press, so the advertisement also served as a subscription notice.  Bell encouraged “Gentlemen who have rationality enough to consider they will receive an equivalent” to an imported edition to sign on as subscribers, simultaneously flattering and cajoling prospective customers.

Bell informed the “Encouragers of printing this Grand Historical Work” that they “may depend upon ebullitions of gratitude,” but that was only an ancillary reason for purchasing Robertson’s biography of Charles the Fifth.  He presented their own edification and their responsibility for promoting domestic manufactures in the colonies as the primary reasons for buying the first volume and subscribing for the subsequent second and third volumes.

January 3

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

New-York Journal (January 3, 1770).

“The promotion of which vivifieth individuals, and tendeth towards the elevation and enriching of THE LAND WE LIVE IN.”

Robert Bell was one of the most innovative, industrious, and influential booksellers in eighteenth-century America, known for the larger-than-life personality he cultivated and the entertainment he provided at auctions.  Bell’s auctions were events, public spectacles that amused those in attendance.  The bookseller was also known for his work in creating and promoting a distinctly American market for books, especially after the revolution.  He got started on that enterprise, however, several years before the colonies declared independence from Britain.

In the first issue of the New-York Journal published in 1771, Bell launched a new advertising campaign that announced book auctions on Friday and Saturday evenings.  In addition to giving information about the auctions, he devoted half of the advertisement to a nota bene about the “American Edition of Robertson’s Charles the Fifth.”  Rather than purchase imported alternatives, Bell asserted that the “real friends to the progress of Literary entertainment, and to the extension of useful Manufactures in a young country” would acquire the edition produced in the colonies.  Over the course of his career, Bell became known for the verbose and convoluted prose he deployed in his marketing materials.  He used labyrinthine language even by eighteenth-century standards, including in this advertisement for an American edition.  Consumers were already familiar with arguments in favor of domestic manufactures in the wake of boycotting imported goods, but Bell approached the endeavor with more verve than proponents when he trumped that “the promotion” of American products “vivifieth individuals, and tendeth towards the elevation and enriching of THE LAND WE LIVE IN.”  The bookseller advocated on behalf of American commerce and American culture simultaneously, arguing that consumers could enhance both through the decisions they made when buying books.

Bell did not merely present customers with options for reading “Divinity, History, Novels, and Entertainment.”  Instead, he challenged them to think about how their participation in the marketplace could aid the American cause and contribute to the formation of a distinctly American identity.  He intensified those arguments as his career continued, building on marketing strategies from the early 1770s.