Tag Archives: 18th Century

Rules for Kings in 1773

The Virginia Gazette was the first newspaper published in Virginia and the first to be published in the area south of the Potomac River in the colonial period of the United States. Issues have the following subtitle: “Containing the freshest advices, foreign and domestick.

Rules for Kings

The conceptions of Kings are commonly as far above the vulgar as their conditions; for being higher elevated, and walking upon the battlements of sovereignty, they sooner receive the inspirations of Heaven. The greatest potentates of the earth are but weak, penetrable things; and, though somewhat refined and kneaded down from that coarser fort of stuff which goeth to the compositions of the citizens of the world, yet they are so much the more brittle ware, only they differ in their office, which nevertheless makes them to have far less to hope for than to fear.

How poor is that Prince, amidst all his wealth, whose subjects are only kept by a slavish fear, the gaoler of the soul. An iron arm, fastened with a screw, may be stronger, but never so useful, because not so natural as an arm of flesh, joined with muscles and sinews: So loving subjects are more serviceable, as being more kindly united to their Sovereign than those which are only forced on with fear and threatening.

Published weekly in Williamsburg, Virginia between 1736 and 1780, The Virginia Gazette contained news covering all of Virginia and also included information from other colonies, Scotland, England and additional countries. The paper appeared in three competing versions from a succession of publishers over the years, some published concurrently, and all under the same title.


South Carolina Classified

These classified ads ran in the August 12, 1778 issue of The Gazette of the State of South Carolina.

To be disposed of at private Sale, very reasonable – A Likely Negro Man, who has always been used to the field till these three years past, since whichtime he has been used to attend a single man, and sometimes to work out. He is sold no fault, the owner having no occasion for him. -Enquire of the Printers.

Twenty Pounds Reward – RUN away the subscriber, on the 27th ult.a dark Mulatto man named Sam, a Shoemaker by trade; he has a large bushy head of hair, is 5 feet six inches high, well set, and had on when he went away, a straw hat, a plaid Jacket, white breeches,and Oznabrugs shirt. It is supposed he is either harboured about Charlestown, or near Mr. Weston’s plantation in the parish of Christchurch. Whoever brings him to me, or to the Warden of the Work-house, shall be entitled to the above reward.

Our South Carolina Newspapers collection contains a wealth of information on colonial and early American History and genealogy, and provides an accurate glimpse of life in South Carolina and America in the 18th century.


Major General Clinton’s Proclamation to North Carolina

This proclamation offering amnesty to rebels by Major General Clinton appeared in the June 19, 1776 issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette.

By Major General Clinton, Commander of his Majesty’s Forces in the southern Provinces of North America.


WHEREAS a most unprovoked and wicked rebellion hath for some time past prevailed, and doth now exist, within his Majesty’s province of North Carolina, and the inhabitants (forgetting their allegiance to their Sovereign, and denying the authority of the laws and statutes of the realm) have, in a succession of crimes, proceeded to the total subversion of all lawful authority, usurping the powers of government, and erecting a tyranny in the hands of Congress and Committees of various denominations, utterly unknown and repugnant to the spirit of the British constitution; and divers people, in avowed defiance to all legal authority, are now actually in arms, waging unnatural war against their King; and whereas all attempts to reclaim the infatuated and misguided multitude to a sense of their error have unhappy proved ineffectual:

I have it in command to proceed forthwith against all such men, or bodies of men in arms, and against all such Congresses and Committees, thus unlawfully established, as against open enemies to the state. But, considering it a duty inseparable from the principle of humanity first of all to forewarn the deluded people of the miseries ever attendant upon civil war, I do most earnestly entreat and exhort them, as they tender their own happiness, and that of their posterity, to appease the vengeance of an injured and justly incensed nation, by a return to their duty to our common Sovereign, and to the blessings of a free government, as established by law; hereby offering, in his Majesty’s name, free pardon to all such as shall lay down their arms and submit to the laws, excepting only from the benefit of such pardon Cornelius Harnett and Robert Howe.

And I do hereby require, that the Provincial Congress, and all Committees of Safety, and other unlawful associations, be dissolved, and the judges allowed to hold their Courts according to the laws and constitution of this province; of which all persons are required to take notice, as they will answer the contrary at their utmost peril.

Given on board the Pallas transport, in Cape Fear river, in the province of North Carolina, the 5th day of May, 1776, and in the sixteenth year of his Majesty’s reign.

–H. Clinton.

By command of General Clinton,
To the Magistrates of the province of North Carolina, to be by them made public.

The Pennsylvania Gazette was one of the United States’ most prominent newspapers from 1728—before the time period of the American Revolution—until 1800. Published in Philadelphia from 1728 through 1800, The Pennsylvania Gazette is considered The New York Times of the 18th century.


Arming Slaves: Gov. Josiah Martin’s Denial

Lieutenant-Colonel Josiah Martin (23 April 1737 – 13 April 1786) was the last Royal Governor of the Province of North Carolina (1771–1775). Martin was born in Dublin, Ireland, of a planter family well established on the Caribbean island of Antigua, third son of his father’s second marriage. His elder half-brother Samuel Martin (1714–1788) was secretary to the Treasury in London. Another brother Sir Henry Martin (1735–1794) was for many years naval commissioner at Portsmouth and Comptroller of the Royal Navy. Sir Henry was father of Thomas Byam Martin.

The following letter was wrote by his excellency governor Josiah Martin, to the honourable Lewis Henry De Rossett, esquire, in answer to an information given him of his having been charged with giving encouragement to the slaves to revolt from their masters. As the substance of this letter is truly alarming, his excellency therein publicly avowing the measure of arming the slaves against their masters, when every other means to preserve the king’s government should prove ineffectual, the committee have ordered the said letter to be published, as an alarm to the people of this province, against the horrid and barbarous designs of the enemies, not only to their internal peace and safety, but to their lives, liberties, properties, and every other human blessing.

Fort Johnston, June 24, 1775



Josiah Martin

Josiah Martin

I beg leave to make you my acknowledgements for your communication of the false, malicious, and scandalous report, that has been propagated of me in this part of the province, of my having given encouragement to the negroes to revolt against their masters; and as I persuade myself you kindly intended thereby to give me an opportunity to refuse so infamous a charge, I eagerly embrace this occasion most solemnly to assure you that I have never conceived a thought of that nature. And I will further add my opinion, that nothing could ever justify the design falsely imputed to me, of giving encouragement to the negroes, but the actual and declared rebellion of the king’s subjects, and the failure of all other means to maintain the king’s government.

Permit me, therefore, sir, to request the favour of you to take the most effectual means to prevent the circulation of this most cruel slander, and to assure every body with whom you shall communicate on this subject, that so far from entertaining so horrid a design, I shall be ever ready and heartily disposed to concur in any measures that may be consistent with prudence, to keep the negroes in order and subjection, and for the maintenance of peace and good order throughout the province. I am, with great respect, sir, your most obedient humble servant,

Jo. Martin

Published weekly in Williamsburg, Virginia between 1736 and 1780, The Virginia Gazette contained news covering all of Virginia and also included information from other colonies, Scotland, England and additional countries. The paper appeared in three competing versions from a succession of publishers over the years, some published concurrently, and all under the same title.

Source:  The Virginia Gazette, August 31, 1775

In July 1775, a plot instigated by Martin to arm the slaves was discovered. In retaliation, John Ashe led a group of colonists against Fort Johnston on 20 July. Martin was forced to flee aboard the Cruiser while the colonists destroyed the fort. Martin remained off the coast of North Carolina, directing the rising of the Loyalists, whom he supplied with weapons brought from England.

After two attempted invasions during the Carolina campaign to re-establish his administration were turned back, Martin, who was then in ill health due to fatigue, left for Long Island and then England.

He died in London. He is the namesake of Martin County, North Carolina.[


Keeping the South Carolina Colony Informed

The 18th century newspapers in the British colonies of North America covered a fascinating combination of international news and extremely local topics. This edition of The South Carolina Gazette from January 26, 1737 is an excellent example.

International News


The poor Kingdom of Poland, already laid waste by War and Famine, is now visited by the Bloody Flux, which is become epidemical, and has carried off infinite Number of People, and frightened the rest to such a Degree, that whole Provinces are deserted.


Extract of a Letter from Spanish Town in Jamaica. ‘Our once most flourishing Island is now exceedingly upon the Decline; and nothing so much as Luxury, Poverty, Taxes and Faction abound among us: Neither are our intestine Wars with the rebellious Negroes in the least abated; and nothing is become more common, than to hear of Plantations burnt and utterly destroy’d by them, insomuch that some of our distant Parishes will be oblig’d in a little Time to abandon their Habitations.

Holland and Maritime Canada

From Amsterdam they write, That the Greenland Fishing this Year has been so prodigious, that the Dutch have taken 589 Whales and three young ones. The French and Spaniards have also taken 70 Whales this Season at Groenland: And if, as one observes, England has not come in for her Share of Train-oyl and Whalebone, she may boast of having out number’d all her Neighbours in Horse-Races. He might have added too, for the Glory of this Island, That we out do all our Neighbours in Pantomime, Farce, and Puppet-Shew.


The Woollen Manufacture in Denmark is so much improved, that his Majesty finding there is Cloth enough made in his own Kingdom to serve his Subjects, has forbid the Importation of any Woollen Manufacture from foreign Parts. (more…)