Runaway Slave PowerPoint

1800 - 1840
 If you had lost expensive property, what types of information
would you consider important to assure its return?
 Slave owners followed a fairly standardized format for describing their
run-away property. Advertisements provide a wealth of information
regarding descriptions, activities and possible destinations for runaway
 They had a physical description consisting of such aspects as:
complexions, height, body shape, scars and brands, dental condition,
hair, age and any characteristic that might bring attention.
 They also alluded to possible directions which might be followed and
family locations.
 They listed skills and talents which might aide in their slaves escape.
William Henry Singleton, former slave on the
Neuse River
 Historical Maps exist that show the waterways and wetlands for us to
understand the landscape for runaway destinations.
 It is unclear if maps were available for runaway attempts. From the
newspaper advertisements , it is clear that a network of destinations
existed and the following information was probably known.
 Waterways and wetlands provided networks for runaways.
 The slave owners were aware of these networks.
 The runaways were aware of the exact locations of these networks .
 Slaves who were boatmen, navigators, stevedores, and fishermen knew
about the waterway and wetland networks.
 Slaves had knowledge, guides or maps for these runaway networks.
Tanner, Henry Schenck, 1786-1858
Current Satellite Digital Image
Historical maps allow us to understand locations and
landscapes described in the advertisements.
These are known as primary sources.
Can you list other means of obtaining historical knowledge
that comes as close to the original source as possible?
Every time you make a note or write a letter; if you keep a
diary or take a photograph you are recording history and
creating a primary source for people of the future.
From these someone may learn what life was like for you.
Can you pinpoint the runaways’ movements on a map?
Try drawing a picture of what they might have looked like
using characteristics provided in the ads
Research the habitation areas of indigenous peoples, and
others such as the Quakers, who were sympathetic to the
conditions of slavery. Construct an itinerary or plan of where
you would go as a runaway.
What would you take with you, and how would you decide
what to leave behind? Justify your plans and decisions.
Stephen a slim spare made fellow, thick bushy head of
hair, remarkable small legs, rather of a yellowish
complexion, and about 4 feet 9 or 10 inches high, the
fore finger of his left hand in entirely stiff, occasioned
by a bite in the joint when fighting.
He is remarkable fond of fidling, and commonly has a
fiddle hung to his back.
He has a mother living in the County of Pasquotank by
the name of Franky.
I have lately been informed that a fellow of that name
and description has been seen working in the Shingle
Swamp, and flatting shingles down the Canal.
James Wood,
sen. Hertford
A dark Mulatto Man, about thirty-seven years of age, five feet
seven inches high, and very stout made
He is very artful, and professes to be a Cooper and Job Carpenter
He formerly belonged to Mr. James Blount, of Washington
County, and came to this County as a Freeman
He can write
He is well acquainted along the Sea-Coast from their to the
Virginia line – and may lurk about Wilmington, Newbern,
Edenton, or Beaufort
Or may endeavor to get on board some vessel by calling
himself a free-man
John C. Baker,
Brunswick Co., 1808
Is about 5 feet 3 inches high, very black, about 24 years of age
He has a very notable scar over his right eye, occasioned by the
kick of a horse when he was young
A tailor by trade, and can beat the drum extremely well
Was born in the Island of Guadaloupe, to which place he has
lately threatened to go
He speaks French pretty well and is a very artful insinuating
fellow, particularly when in liquor
I have reason to believe, he will make for--- Elizabeth-city or
Norfolk, for the purpose of effecting his escape either toward
Northwards or the West-Indies
Joseph Manning,
Edenton, Oct.14, 1811
Maps give a good
depiction of how
slaves could slip
away and hide in
this watershed
What would be an important skill to have living in an area bounded
by rivers, streams and the Great Dismal Swamp?
 Most coastal slaves spent at least a part of their time working on
the water
 as pilots and boatmen they rafted timber and supplies to market
and became experts at navigating through the ever changing
 Many became fisherman and stevedores while others worked as
shipbuilders, caulkers, sail makers, cord swains, and became
indispensable as nautical trades men.
“The Lightkeeper’s Boat” by
Edward Champney - Courtesy
Outer Banks History Center, Manteo, NC
This fear lead to legislation being passed which strictly
regulated and administered penalties on those who might
provide a haven, and captains that could give them
passage north
Stern warnings were given to “All masters of vessels and others
from harboring, employing, or carrying off, under the penalty of
the law”
No mention was made of their maritime culture
or credit given for their adept seamanship
This access to the sea, not only afforded them a freedom unheard
of on the plantation, it gave them hope by providing contacts and
information with a world out side their own, and eventually for
some, networks to freedom.
“overrun with fugitives from the surrounding
towns and plantations…,” as thousands of African
Americans f led bondage, “It would be utterly
impossible…to keep them outside of our lines…, as
they find their way to us through woods and
swamps from every side.”
General Ambrose B. Burnside
 Begin a story relating to a particular advertisement then pass it
to another who adds more to the story line, so on and so on.
Think about what it would be like to live as a slave.
How would it be to own slaves, what type of master would you be?
How would you treat them and what would you allow them to do?
Would you separate families?
Create a Journal
•For a runaway slave
•Describe their experiences.
•Include how they would survive, who could they talk to, what
would they take or eat
Research an authentic slave diary OR a diary you write
as a joint class project.
 Depict their lives and conditions.
 It could be set up as flash-backs, or an oral history
being told from the orchestra, with scenes fading in
and out of the background as the story is told.
 Think about what skills they may have brought with
them and what activities they may have learned from
 How would information travel and what connections
and interactions would need to take place?
What would Stephen, Frank or Quacko look like?
If you met one of them today what would ask them?
Do you think you would like them?
Give your reasons why or why not.
What might you tell them about yourself?
Cecelski, David S., The Waterman’s Song, University of North Carolina Press,
Chapel Hill and London 2001: slide4:p59, slide9:p25, slide19:pxiii,p20,
slide20:p18, slide21:p13, slide23:p181, slide24:p167
Cumming, William P., North Carolina in Maps, North Carolina Department of
Cultural Resources, Raleigh 2001
, North Carolina County Map, 2005-2010, slide8
Google Images, Slave Advertisements, slides3-4,
Google Earth Maps, North Carolina, 2010 Europe Technologies, Image USDA
Farm Service Agency, 2010 Google, slide7
NC Department of Public Instruction Middle Grades Division, North Carolina Standard
Course of Study, Discover NC: Examining the Development of the State through the
Coastal Plain, slide25,
North Carolina Maps, Interactive, Entire State, , slides6,7,12,14,16-18
Parker, Freddie L., Running for Freedom, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York &
London 1993, slide17:p , slide18:p33, slide22:p29
Parker, Freddie L. ed., Stealing a Little Freedom, Garland Publishing, Inc., New
York & London 1994, slide 2:p , slide11-16:p344,353,856

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