In this presentation I will elucidate the manner in which introductions, employments, and military posts were treated as commodities in eighteenth century England. My primary research concerns a popular daily newspaper circulated in London and surrounding areas known as the Public Advertiser; it was a four-page publication printed daily—save Sundays— that proved to be an amalgamation of London and foreign news, of theatre schedules and company announcements, of letters to the editor and correspondence between political and religious thinkers, and of help wanted and help offered ads. Over a period of ten years—1770- 1780—the content and frequency of the aforementioned ads illuminated a general trend of the treatment of employment whereby introductions for positions, and even the positions themselves, were bought, sold, and exchanged like commodities. Posts in the military, places in Parliament, and apprenticeships are just a few examples of the employments for sale. The results of this research prove to be useful both historically and economically; with the explicit information in the employment ads economists are able to determine the rates of return expected from the sale or purchase of an employment. This research substantiates the old adage, “ it’ s not what you know, it’ s who you know,” but suggests an addendum: it’ s also what you’ re willing to spend.
Alison Scharmota, ’08 Cedar Rapids, IA
Majors: English, Religion
Sponsor: Santhi Hejeebu