Runaway Slave Advertisements: A Documentary History from the 1730s to 1790 - Vol. 2

Runaway Slave Advertisements: A Documentary History from the 1730s to 1790 - Vol. 2

Runaway Slave Advertisements: A Documentary History from the 1730s to 1790 - Vol. 2

Runaway Slave Advertisements: A Documentary History from the 1730s to 1790 - Vol. 2

Synopsis

"Students of slavery will regret that the late Lathan A. Windley did not use his storehouse of information on runaway slaves to write a much more comprehensive introduction to [these volumes]. That, however, was not his intention in this 'source book for the study of slavery and to the fugitive slave problem in eighteenth century [Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, South Carolina, and Georgia]. Researchers will be grateful that someone has done the tedious work of collecting these advertisements wherein one finds detailed personal and physical descriptions of individual runaways. Rewards for the return of runaways, 'besides what the law allows,' might involve 'pistoles' or sums of money.... Scholars who have used Helen Catterall's Judicial Cases Concerning American Slavery and the Negro (1926) will appreciate the Windley compilations." - Choice

Excerpt

In recent years Negro slavery in the United States has been the theme of an ever-increasing stream of published studies, the result of a growing recognition of its importance as a mainstream force in our national life. Unlike earlier treatments of the institution, these newer works have not been neglectful of the slaves themselves, of their efforts to create a world of their own, prevailing against the attempts to dehumanize them. This struggle of the slave to be free in mind, spirit, and body, took on a variety of forms, and it is on one of these more overt expressions of resistance, that of taking to one's heels, that this volume sheds considerable fresh light.

A compilation of documents, as its title indicates, this four-volume work is graced by a perceptive and clearly written introduction that touches upon the general nature and content of runaway slave advertisements, duly noting that such advertisements covered only a portion of the total number of escapees. This introduction does not provide any analysis or interpretation of this assemblage of documents, leaving these exercises to the readers as they proceed. Certainly, however, these volumes provide an abundance of data upon which the readers themselves can base a soundly buttressed evaluation or arrive at an informed speculation.

This collection of source materials has any number of possibilities in providing a better understanding of the fugitive as a type. One may note, for example, that the period covered in this work, the eighteenth century, had its own points of distinction as to runaways. A black fugitive of that day might make his escape with a white indentured servant, the latter status or condition not extending into the following century. In another chronological twist, an eighteenth-century runaway could not turn to an as yet undeveloped underground railroad, that network of individuals and groups enabling the slaves to make their escape and then helping them to get a start in freedom. An eighteenth-century runaway could count on no underground railroad conductor like Harriet Tubman . . .

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