February 24

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

New-York Journal (February 21, 1771).

“Celebrating the Repeal of the oppressive Stamp-Act.”

Just as Americans participated in the commodification of events associated with the American Revolution several years before the skirmishes at Concord and Lexington, they also staged commemorations of those events long before declaring independence.  After the repeal of the Stamp Act in March 1766, for instance, colonists marked the anniversary the following year and continued to do so.  They celebrated not only the repeal of that odious measure but also the successful organizing and resistance strategies that convinced Parliament to repeal it.  Many among the gentry engaged in legislative resistance, including the House of Burgesses passing the Virginia Resolves and representatives from several colonies signing petitions at the Stamp Act Congress.  Merchants pursued economic resistance, leveraging commercial pressure on their counterparts on the other side of the Atlantic by refusing to import goods while the Stamp Act remained in effect.  Popular protests erupted throughout the colonies, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Savannah, Georgia.  In newspapers, circular letters, pamphlets, broadsides, and handbills, the colonial press covered all of these actions.

As the fifth anniversary of the repeal approached, an advertisement addressed to “all the Friends of LIBERTY” appeared in the February 24, 1771, edition of the New-York Journal.  “THIS early Notice is given,” the advertisement proclaimed,” that for celebrating the Repeal of the oppressive Stamp-Act, ample Provision will be made on the 18th March next, at HAMPDEN-HALL, that the Anniversary may be kept, with proper Festivity and Decency.”  Celebrating such anniversaries was important.  Doing so helped to keep colonists vigilant when it came to other abuses.  In the time since the repeal of the Stamp Act, the colonies experienced another round of objectionable taxation in the form of duties on imported goods imposed by the Townshend Acts.  Widespread resistance, including another round of nonimportation agreements, eventually resulted in the repeal of most of those duties, but the tax on tea remained.  In addition, British soldiers were quartered in Boston, a factor that contributed to the Boston Massacre in March 1770.  Newspapers throughout the colonies covered that event and the subsequent trials, many of them also carrying advertisements for pamphlets and prints related to the murders in Boston.  When colonists in New York gathered to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the repeal of the Stamp Act, “so general and important a Cause,” they likely recollected other events that occurred since, each of them as “oppressive” as the Stamp Act.  The anniversary of that first major victory against Parliament provided an opportunity for reflection on other challenges the colonies experienced and continued to face.

March 17

GUEST CURATOR: Daniel McDermott

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

Mar 17 - 3:17:1767 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 17, 1767).

Just imported … LARGE Scotch Coal.”

Since the eighteenth century, coal has been arguably one of the most important commodities in the history of industrialized civilizations. In eighteenth-century America, coal was imported from one of the many mines in Great Britain.[1] Commonly used as a source of energy, coal also brings environmental impacts to surrounding areas when it is burned.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, its effects on the water cycle in the form of acid rain was one of the earliest known environmental effects from coal. Sulfur dioxide is released from the burning of coal and stays in the atmosphere. However, the sulfur is precipitated out of the atmosphere, just like water, but instead it becomes acid rain. The sulfur dioxide stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years; therefore, the environmental effects from earlier periods are still present today.[2] For further information on how acid rain affects the environment, you visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

 John Evelyn first reported the effects of air pollution in seventeenth-century England by John Evelyn in his book, Fumufugium. According to Fredric C. Menz and Hans M. Seip, Robert Angus Smith “first conducted detailed studies of acid rain and described many of its potentially harmful effects” in 1872. The importation of coal in eighteenth-century America and the eventually rise of coal mining in North America eventually brought similar environmental problems across the Atlantic. The environmental impacts of coal are not confined to the boundaries of countries or continents.



Alexander Urquehart’s advertisement for “LARGE Scotch Coal at six Pounds per Ton” and an assortment of other goods appeared in an exceptional issue of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal. Like the printers of newspapers in the largest port cities, Charles Crouch sometimes published a supplement when the amount of news, advertising, and other content exceeded what would fit in the standard four-page weekly issue. In most instances, supplements were printed on half sheets, limiting them to two pages. The Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal issued on March 17, 1767, however, consisted of four pages – or an entire second broadsheet. The size of the sheet used for the supplement (with two columns of text) was not as large as that of the standard issue (with three columns), so this did not double the total content delivered to subscribers. Still, it significantly increased the size of that week’s issue.

In particular, it increased the amount of advertising delivered to readers of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal. The entire supplement – all eight columns – was devoted exclusively to advertising. Indeed, paid notices of every variety practically eclipsed news items in the March 17 issue, making it a delivery mechanism for advertising rather than news (and presumably generating greater revenue for the printer than other issues that balanced the amount of space devoted to advertisements versus other content). Advertising comprised seven of the twelve columns in the standard issue in addition to filling the entire supplement.

Among the news items that did appear, the printer noted that “TO Morrow, being the Anniversary of the REPEAL OF THE STAMP-ACT, we hear will be observed by the Lovers of Liberty and America, with Hearts elate, for our happy Delivery from so manifestly intended Oppression.” Considering that the Stamp Act assessed taxes on each advertisement printed in colonial newspapers, in addition to those leveled for the newspaper itself, it seems appropriate that the printer of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal would mark the first anniversary of its repeal by publishing an issue that overflowed with advertisements.


[1] U.S. Department of Commerce, Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970, Part 2 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1975), 1184.

[2] L.A. Barrie and R.M. Hoff, “The Oxidation Rate and Residence Time of Sulphur Dioxide in the Arctic Atmosphere,” Atmospheric Environment 18, no. 12 (1984): 2711-2722.

January 20

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

Supplement to the South-Carolina and Country Journal (January 20, 1767).

“A great Variety of handsome Pictures … amongst which are several of their Majesties.”

George Parker advertised “a general Assortment of EUROPEAN and EAST-INDIA GOODS” recently imported on “Vessels from LONDON and BRISTOL.” His merchandise included “a great Variety of handsome Pictures … amongst which are their Majesties, both plain and in Colours.” Not only did Parker stock goods from the metropolitan center of the British Empire, he also promoted memorabilia that celebrated George III, the ruler and personification of Britain.

In preparation for the work they will be doing on the Adverts 250 Project, yesterday the students in my Revolutionary class read and discussed T.H. Breen’s landmark article, “Baubles of Britain,” and my own chapter, “A Revolution in Advertising.”[1] (Based on the quality of that conversation, I have high expectations for their contributions to this project.) In its consideration of both the consumer revolution of the eighteenth century and the political revolution that began in the 1760s, Breen’s article provided a foundation for consumer culture studies that will be one of the main themes throughout the semester. Drawing on Breen’s narrative, students articulated the close connections between England and the colonies created by consumption practices as well as the politicization of decisions about what to import and purchase (or not import and purchase).

Any time I teach a course that covers the American Revolution, whether an introductory survey or an upper-level seminar, I have a responsibility to emphasize change over time. Many students, like many Americans more generally, think of the events of the revolutionary era as happening simultaneously rather than as a process that unfolded over years. This advertisement helps me to demonstrate that point. Published after the Stamp Act controversy, boycotts of imported British goods, and the repeal of the despised legislation, this advertisement demonstrates an “ASSORTMENT of GOODS” from London found their way to the colonies once again, including “Pictures … of their Majesties” intended to be displayed in public and private spaces.

The goods offered for sale in this advertisement suggest that throughout the 1760s shopkeepers and their customers engaged in resistance to British policies, but they had not yet moved to outright revolution and determination to sever political ties with Britain. Transitioning from resistance to revolution was a long and complicated process. Elsewhere on the same page as Parker’s advertisement, Charles Crouch, the printer of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, advertised several items he sold, including “Dr. FRANKLIN’s Examination before an August Assembly, relating to the American Stamp-Act.” Advertisements that celebrated colonists’ British identity and others that critiqued Parliament’s overbearing regulation of the colonies appeared side by side.

Americans had not yet made the decision to declare independence – and would not do so for almost another decade. After making that transition, as I argued in my own chapter that my students read and discussed yesterday, American merchandisers offered new sorts of memorabilia that celebrated the new nation, its leaders and heroes of the Revolution, and important events in achieving independence. No longer did advertisements hawk “Pictures … of their Majesties” but instead promoted a variety of prints and medals depicting George Washington and other patriots. Advertisers encouraged a new sort of veneration intended to unite citizens throughout the nation, just as veneration of “their Majesties” via purchasing and displaying prints had been intended to strengthen British identity and unity throughout the British Atlantic world a few decades earlier.


[1] T.H. Breen, “‘Baubles of Britain’: The American and Consumer Revolutions of the Eighteenth Century,” Past and Present 119 (May 1988): 73-104.

Carl Robert Keyes, “A Revolution in Advertising: ‘Buy American’ Campaigns in the Late Eighteenth Century,” in Danielle Coombs and Bob Batchelor, eds., Creating Advertising Culture: Beginnings to the 1930s, vol. 1, We Are What We Sell: How Advertising Shapes American Life … And Always Has (New York: Praeger, 2013), 1-25.

October 2

GUEST CURATOR: Elizabeth Curley

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

Massachusetts Gazette (October 2, 1766).

“Just Published … The Examination of Doctor BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, before an AUGUST ASSEMBLY.”

In the eighteenth century and today, most people agree that Benjamin Franklin significantly influenced colonial American politics and commerce. Some count him as an honored founding father, but if you ask my seven-year-old nephew he’ll declare that Franklin was his favorite president (despite my repeated attempts to tell him that, no, Mr. (or Dr.) Franklin was in fact not a president). Franklin made many contributions to early America history and life.

One of his most significant contributions was his delegation to England on behalf of Pennsylvania and other colonies. On February 13, 1766, he testified before Parliament about repealing the Stamp Act. On March 18, 1766, Parliament did in fact repeal the Stamp Act, although on that same day they voted in the Declaratory Act. News of the repeal reached the colonies around six weeks later, around the start of May.

As I was reading this advertisement I wondered, “Why would this be an August Assembly?” I found myself needing to know more, and went to J.L. Bell’s blog, Boston 1775. There I learned that Parliament’s proceedings were very secretive. Actions that Parliament took were made public, but the debates and arguments were private. Speaking about conversations held within either of the two houses was considered a breach of privilege and punishable by both houses.

To protect Franklin, his previous printing partner (and now owner of the Pennsylvania Gazette), David Hall changed the story. By saying that Franklin simply had spoken at an “August Assembly,” Franklin and Hall were attempting to get around the legality of publishing Franklin’s “Examination,” which discussed the flow of the questions and testimony and even recalled some speakers in Parliament by name. Publishing the testimony was a big deal, not only because many times colonists heard news months later, but also because this kept them better informed about Parliament, which met very far away from them.



Elizabeth introduces the curious history of “The Examination of Doctor BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, before an AUGUST ASSEMBLY, relating to the Repeal of the Stamp-Act.” The colonists were certainly hungry for information, which meant that advertisements for this pamphlet did not have to offer much in the way of marketing other than announcing that it was “Just Published … And Sold” by local printers and booksellers.

Indeed, members of the book trades in multiple cities produced, distributed, and sold pamphlets about Franklin’s testimony before “an AUGUST ASSEMBLY.” The American Antiquarian Society’s catalog indicates that at least five editions were printed in British mainland North America in 1766. As Elizabeth indicates, the original edition came off the presses of Hall and Sellers in Philadelphia, but that did not prevent other printers from producing their own editions. In each instance, politics and profit overlapped as printers and booksellers simultaneously sought to keep colonists informed about what was taking place in Parliament and generate revenues for themselves in the process.

Still, even with the subterfuge involved in allusions to “an AUGUST ASSEMBLY,” printers took on some risk when they decided to reprint their own copies of this pamphlet. The edition printed in New York did not list a printer, though bibliographers have associated James Parker with this imprint. An edition from New England listed neither printer nor city, but book historians believe Edes and Gill, printers of the Boston-Gazette, produced it. The title page of an edition from Virginia stated that it had been “Printed and sold by William Rind, opposite the Capitol” in Williamsburg. Back in Philadelphia, Heinrich Miller printed a German translation, which should come as little surprise considering the large population of German settlers in Pennsylvania. Timothy Green did not bother with printing another separate edition in Connecticut; instead, he reprinted the pamphlet in the New-London Gazette, beginning with the October 10, 1766, issue. In addition to being a treat for his readers and keeping them better informed, this stunt may have attracted new subscribers.

Today’s advertisement suggests that politics and a desire to keep colonists informed of Parliament’s machinations sometimes trumped competition among colonial printers. Note that the pamphlet was sold by “T. and J. Fleet, at the Heart & Crown in Cornhill,” yet the advertisement appeared in a newspaper “PUBLISHED by RICHARD DRAPERS, Printer to the Governor and Council, and by SAMUEL DRAPER, At their Printing Office in Newbury-Street.” In other words, the printers of Boston Evening-Post stocked and sold a pamphlet most likely produced by the printers of the Boston-Gazette and placed advertisements for it in the Massachusetts Gazette. This suggests cooperation and coordination rather than competition among the printers in Boston, all of whom faced a challenge to their livelihoods when the Stamp Act was in force.

September 24

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

Georgia Gazette (September 24, 1766).

“May be had at the Printing-Office … A SERMON.”

James Johnston, the printer of the Georgia Gazette, advertised the second edition of “A SERMON Preached in the Meeting at Savannah in Georgia, June 25th, 1766.” Although he did not specify the topic of this sermon, the four lines from Galatians that concluded the advertisement suggested that it addressed the uneasy relationship between the colonies and Great Britain that had been occasioned by Parliament’s attempts to regulate commerce within the empire, especially within its North American colonies. “Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty,” the biblical verses began, but concluded with a warning to “take heed that ye not be consumed one of another.” Johnston apparently presumed that potential customers/readers were so familiar recent political events, in general, and this sermon, in particular, that he did not need to state explicitly that it addressed the Stamp Act.

Johnston was certainly advertising John Joachim Zubly’s “The Stamp Act Repealed: A Sermon.” The title page of the second edition of that thirty-page duodecimo pamphlet included the same verses and other information that also appeared in the advertisement, including the assertion that it had been “First published at the Request and Expence of the Hearers.” The second edition was simultaneously published in Charleston by Peter Timothy and in Philadelphia by Heinrich Miller.

John Joachim Zubly, The Stamp-Act Repealed:  A Sermon (Savannah, GA:  James Johnston, 1766).  American Antiquarian Society.

In an introduction to the “Sermon,” Randall M. Miller notes that Zubly “captured the feelings of other prominent Georgians in 1766 who had recoiled from the strong words and threats of the Stamp Act crisis but also who had resented Parliament’s encroachment on American rights.” The sermon “stressed obedience to law and the reciprocal obligations of both Christian rulers and subjects to honor law and order.”[1]

By the time the second edition was published, colonists had known for several months that the Stamp Act had been repealed (which had led to Zubly preaching this sermon for a day of thanksgiving). One crisis had been averted, but colonists continued to grapple with their relationship to Britain, especially in the wake of the Declaratory Act. Still, few colonists were prepared at that time to sever ties with Britain. Johnston marketed a sermon that might assist readers in maintaining their identity as Britons while acknowledging that they had been slighted by Parliament. “We seemed like people that had been apprehensive of being shipwrecked and happily made a harbour,” Zubly proclaimed.[2] In publishing, marketing, and selling a second edition of the sermon, Johnston and his counterparts in Charleston and Philadelphia amplified that message to greater numbers of colonists.


[1] Randall M. Miller, “A Warm & Zealous Spirit”: John J. Zubly and the American Revolution, A Selection of His Writings (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1982), 31.

[2] John Joachim Zubly, The Stamp-Act Repealed: A Sermon (Savannah, GA: James Jonhnson, 1766), 28.

August 17

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

Aug 17 - 8:15:1766 Virginia Gazette
Virginia Gazette (August 15, 1766).

“Some excellent pieces of sculpture in relieve of Lord CAMDEN and Mr. PITT.”

In the wake of the American Revolution, a variety of artists created and marketed items that commemorated American statesmen and military heroes and depicted significant events. In so doing, they participated in creating a national culture that celebrated the new republic while uniting geographically dispersed citizens in common acts of consumption and veneration. They helped to cultivate a sense of patriotism rooted in a distinct American identity.

Prior to the Revolution, artists also produced and sold items that shaped national identity and allegiance. In the summer of 1766, colonists in Virginia could purchase “some excellent pieces of sculpture in relieve of Lord CAMDEN and Mr. PITT” created by a “Celebrated artist in London.” Camden and Pitt were British politicians who had gained popularity in the colonies due to their opposition to the Stamp Act, arguing that it was not constitutional to impose taxes on the colonies without their consent and that consent was only possible with representation. Camden was one of the few who opposed the Declaratory Act as well. From the perspective of Americans who opposed the Stamp Act, Camden and Pitt truly understood the appropriate and just relationship between Great Britain and the colonies. The advertisement for the sculpture in relieve pieces described them as “names which will be ever dear to AMERICA,” but offered no further explanation. None was needed. Any colonists who read the newspaper or listened to discussions taking place in public places already knew of the accomplishments of Camden and Pitt.

This advertisement and the works it marketed envisioned American political and cultural identity in complicated ways. Americans still thought of themselves as Britons in 1766. At the time, few wanted to sever ties; instead, they sought to benefit from all the protections and advantages that were supposed to be inherent in being part of the British Empire. By purchasing sculpture in relievo pieces of Camden and Pitt and displaying them in their homes, colonists could confirm their allegiance to Britain and the ideals of its political system while simultaneously affirming their particular concerns as Americans. They did not need to prioritize one over the other. The two found themselves in balance rather than opposition to each other, a situation that would change dramatically over the course of the next two decades.

August 8

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

Aug 8 - 8:8:1766 Rind's Virginia Gazette
Rind’s Virginia Gazette (August 8, 1766).

“The MARYLAND LOTTERY. … A few Tickets still remain unsold.”

The Maryland Lottery offered “Land (lying in Kent County)” among its profits. Those operating the lottery described the terrain, assuring readers that “the Whole of this Estate is capable of producing very g[ood] Profit to Persons who give the least Attention to the Improvem[ent] of Land.” They also outlined the “Scheme” of the lottery, detailing the price and how many total tickets were to be sold so “Adventurers” could assess the risk and odds. The drawing was slated to take place in Annapolis, but the Maryland Lottery had attracted attention beyond the Chesapeake colonies. Tickets had already been sold Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.

Given the popularity of this lottery and the quality of the land offered as prizes (“the Garden of the Continent, nay, there is no[t a] County in the Dominion of Great-Britain superior to it”), why did any tickets remain at all? Why hadn’t they been sold out for some time.

Well, most had been sold, but “A few Tickets still remain,” the promoters explained, due to “the late total Stop to Business, and other Discouragements too obvious to be [re]lated.” Indeed, in 1766 the “Stop to Business, and other Discouragements” were indeed well known. The Stamp Act interfered with the operation of lotteries in addition to infringing on the printing of newspapers and hampering the ability of lawyers and merchants to draw up the legal documents necessary to conduct business.

Several months had passed since the colonies received word that the hated Stamp Act had been repealed, but many colonists continued to revel in its demise. Even newspaper advertisements expressed their jubilation: “now, the whole Empire is rejoicing on the Triumph [of] a most righteous Administration over the Enemies of America.” Items published elsewhere in newspapers, either written or selected by printers, often expressed political sentiments, but advertisements gave colonists another venue for sharing their views.

June 10

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

Jun 10 - 6:9:1766 New-York Mercury
New-York Mercury (June 9, 1766).

“PERMIT me thus heartily to congratulate you on the Expulsion of an Act which must have involved these respectable Colonies into the utmost Difficulty.”

A week ago the Adverts 250 Project featured a “to be continued” advertisement placed by John Coghill Knapp from the “Scrivener, Register, and Conveyancer’s OFFICE, on Rotten-Row.” The lawyer’s advertisement concluded with a not that “The Remainder of this Advertisement, with some further Remarks that may be beneficial to the Publick, in our next.” The wording raised questions about whether the advertiser or the printer made the decision to delay publication of “The Remainder.” Did Knapp devise a clever means of inciting interest in whatever might appear in “The Remainder” or did the printer run out of space and choose to truncate the advertisement? After all, it wasn’t uncommon for printers to insert notices that advertisements that had not appeared in the current issue would be published in the next.

An examination of the dates attached to each advertisement may help to answer this question. The original advertisement, published in the June 2 issue of the New-York Mercury, was dated “2d of June.” It was written the same day that it was printed (or, more likely, post-dated to be current with the issue). “The Remainder” that appeared in the June 9 issue of the New-York Mercury was dated “June 7” – after the previous issue, making it more likely that Knapp did originally intend to have the advertisement appear in separate pieces in two consecutive issues.

What were these “further Remarks that may be beneficial to the Publick” that Knapp promised and expected readers to anticipate? Knapp published an extended reflection on the repeal of the Stamp Act, “the Expulsion of an Act which must have involved these respectable Colonies in the utmost Difficulty.” In particular , he lauded “that great Defender of LIBERTY, the most Noble and Right Honorable WILLIAM PITT.” Knapp used politics and current events to appeal to potential clients who had protested the Stamp Act.

In a second paragraph, he discussed his own virtues as an attorney. In addition, he stated that he was “again admitted to Practice in that Profession to which I was regularly bred.” In his previous advertisement he had announced that he “received his Education at the University of Oxford; was regularly bred to the Profession of the LAW.” The Stamp Act disrupted attorneys’ work since legal documents were supposed to be recorded on stamped paper. Knapp lamented that “the Stagnation of Business during the Debate of that weighty Affair, has been sorely felt.” Now that the repeal had gone into effect, Knapp was “again admitted” to practicing the law now that the colonies had reverted to “Dear Liberty, the Birth-Right” of the Britons who resided there.

May 29

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

May 29 - 5:29:1766 Massachusetts Gazette Extraordinary
Massachusetts Gazette Extraordinary (May 29, 1766).

Print played a significant role in the coming of the American Revolution. Some scholars argue for the primacy of newspapers in facilitating debate, giving a voice to protest, and shaping public opinion. Other printed items, however, also played a role, including pamphlets, sermons, almanacs, and engraved images (the eighteenth-century counterpart to modern political cartoons). Many of the advertisements selected for inclusion here directly addressed the discontent over the Stamp Act, some of them by marketing tracts that defended the colonies against the abuses of Parliament.

Printers and booksellers simultaneously expressed political views and sought to earn a living by advertising and selling items related to the crisis while the Stamp Act was still in effect. That did not change when the Stamp Act was repealed, though the rhetoric may have shifted slightly. Rather than promote a work condemning an overzealous and overreaching Parliament, today’s advertisement announced the publication of a “Thanksgiving-Discourse, on the REPEAL of the Stamp-Act.” That hated piece of legislation was gone, but printers continued to express their political beliefs – and they seized new opportunities to turn a profit as well.

In this case, politics might have slightly edged out profit. Three printing firms that otherwise would have been competitors joined together to advertise and sell the “Thanksgiving-Discourse”: Richard Draper and Samuel Draper (printers of the Massachusetts Gazette), Benjamin Edes and John Gill (printers of the Boston-Gazette) and Thomas Fleet and John Fleet (printers of the Boston Evening-Post).


Bonus: Newspapers carried more than editorials and advertisements that commented on politics. This “ODE On the Repeal of the Stamp-Act” appeared in the Massachusetts Gazette in the same week as the advertisement for the “Thanksgiving-Discourse, on the REPEAL of the Stamp-Act.”

May 29 - 5:29:1766 Massachusetts Gazette
Massachusetts Gazette (May 29, 1766).

April 29

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

Apr 29 - 4:28:1766 Newport Mercury
Newport Mercury (April 28, 1766).

“Just published, and to be sold by the Printer hereof, CONSIDERATIONS upon the RIGHTS of the COLONISTS.”

When the Stamp Act was repealed a major political crisis came to a close (though the simultaneous passage of the Declaratory Act signaled that not all was resolved between Parliament and Britain’s colonies in North America). Colonial merchants imported goods from Britain. Advertisers encouraged consumers to purchase those goods.

Printers and booksellers continued to market other wares that had been for sale during the Stamp Act crisis: books and pamphlets about the “RIGHTS of the COLONISTS to the PRIVILEGES of British SUBJECTS.” Such items had been advertised frequently before the Stamp Act went into effect in 1765 and continuing through its repeal in the spring of 1766. The Stamp Act may have been repealed, but existing stock of these pamphlets did not disappear. Printers and booksellers needed to sell the leftovers in order to profit or at least break even on their investments. Surplus pamphlets did not suit their needs.

So they continued to advertise. Today’s featured advertisement was not the only one of its kind in the April 28, 1766, issue of the Newport Mercury. Other notices promoted books and pamphlets that advanced a similar political position. They appeared in the same issue that reprinted an “ADVERTISEMENT Extraordinary” from the Boston Gazette (which we saw also reprinted in the New-Hampshire Gazette earlier this week) celebrating the repeal of the Stamp Act.

Apr 29 - Advertisement Extraordinary
Newport Mercury (April 28, 1766).

In all fairness, decisions to continue selling and marketing pamphlets about the “RIGHTS of the COLONISTS” did not necessarily depend solely on financial considerations to the exclusion of sincere political anxieties. Although the immediate crisis was over, the Declaratory Act dampened the colonists’ victory. Astute printers and booksellers likely realized that Parliament and the colonies would continue to experience tensions. By selling pamphlets like the one from today’s advertisements, printers and booksellers performed a civic duty that kept their fellow colonists informed and helped to frame future debates and discourse.