Who was the subject of an advertisement in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“TWO HUNDRED CHOICE Gambia SLAVES.”
Charles Crouch usually distributed new issues of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal on Tuesdays in 1772. Like many other printers, however, he sometimes issued a supplement, postscript, or addition on another day, disseminating news more quickly than waiting to print the next weekly edition of his newspaper. That was the case in early August. A standard four-page issue came out as scheduled on Tuesday, August 4, followed by a two-page Additionon Friday, August 7. Crouch either had too much news to fit in the standard issue at the time it went to press or he acquired news that he felt could not wait nearly a week shortly after the usual publication day. After all, his newspaper competed with two others in Charleston.
Most of the Addition consisted of news from London. The final column included a few items of local news as well as shipping news from the customs house. That left room for six short advertisements, three of them concerning ships seeking passengers and freight for trips to Philadelphia, Boston, and London. Another advertisement advised readers of an upcoming sale of “TWO HUNDRED CHOICE Gambia SLAVES, Mostly MEN and WOMEN,” scheduled for August 18. William Somarsall asserted that the captives “JUST arrived (after a short Passage) in the Sloop THOMAS & ANTHONY, SOLOMON GIBBS, Master.” The dateline read “Charles Town, August 7, 1772.” An entry for “Sloop Thomas & Anthony, Solomon Gibbs,” arriving from St. Kitts on August 6 appeared among the shipping news. The vessel apparently visited at least one port in the Caribbean before continuing to Charleston.
The publication of an Addition to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal certainly served the interests of participants in the transatlantic slave trade. Of the six advertisements in the Addition, four previously ran in the standard issue on August 4. The midweek supplement provided an opportunity for Somarsall to promote an auction of enslaved men and women as soon as the Thomas and Anthony arrived in port. He wasted no time in submitting copy to Crouch’s printing office, rewarded with immediate publication. He ran the same advertisement three days later in the South-Carolina and American General Gazette … and a South-Carolina Gazette Extraordinary that circulated three days before the printers distributed the standard issue for that week on August 13. The appearance of a supplement once again facilitated the slave trade in addition to sharing news and other advertisements with colonizers.