Analyzing Perspective in Colonial Fugitive Documents

Analyzing Perspective
in Colonial Fugitive
Anthony J. Fitzpatrick:
Vice President of Professional Development Services
The American Institute for History Education
Quick Question:
• When and where would you expect to
see or read advertisements
concerning runaway slaves and
• Why (considering how we “teach”
American history) would you answer
in such a way?
In Pre-Civil War times . . .
• How would you describe the following
regions of the United States of America?
• The New England region
• The Middle-Atlantic Region
• The South
Can we validate these
• OF COURSE!! It’s not absolute but here are some facts that
may help us out:
• The New England colonies: Few Servants and Slaves but Many
• Middle Colonies: Many Servants and Slaves and Many
• Lower South: Many Servants and Slaves but Fewer Newspapers
How would the following factors contribute to the facts above:
1. Amount of urban centers and seaports
2. amount of slaves
Basic Background: (the rest we’ll
find out later ;-)
• Runaway advertisements were found in
• The newspapers were typically published
• The advertisements were, more often than
not, found in the same section as
advertisements for lost goods, foreclosure
notices, debt collections and real estate
Revisiting a Familiar Strategy
• A – Author
• I – Immediate Effects
• R – Reason
• S – Subsequent
• To Whom
• T – Time Period
Let’s Examine 2 together:
• Consider the following points as you read:
Number of Runaways
Runaways’ Name (s)
Slave or Servant
Physical Features, Personality Traits, Occupational Skills, or Other
Significant Information
• Any other interesting notes or information you could glean from
the source
Source 1 (also in your packet)
• Boston Evening-Post, August 1, 1748
• RAN away from his Master, john Allen, Merchant of Newtown, a
Negro Man named Quomino, about 21 Years of Age, a likely Fellow,
of middling Stature, his Head shav’d half over, and speaks good
English. Carried away with him, an Olive coloured Cloth Coat with
Buttons of the same Colour, a new Jacket and Breeches, dark Cloth
Colour, homespun, with pewter Buttons on, two pair of Trousers,
two Tow Shirts, two Linnen Shirts, an old Bever Hat, and large Brass
Buckles in his Shoes, &c. He also carried with him a Scythe.
• Whoever shall take him up and return him to his said Master, shall
receive of him the Sum of Five Pounds, and all necessary Charges, in
Old Tenor Money, and all Masters of vessels are upon their Peril
forbid concealing or carrying off said Servant.
• NEWTON, JULY 16, 1748.
Source 2 (also in your packet)
• Boston Evening-Post, may 19, 1755
• RAN away from his Master William Bucknam, a Negro Man named
Cuff, about 45 Years old, and pretty tall and slender, has Scars on
each Side of his Face, Negro Fashion, and had on a streaked blue and
white woolen shirt, an under Jacket and Breeches, homespun
woolen cloth, streaked black and white about an Inch wide, mill’d
Cloth, outside Jacket, homespun Kersey grey colour’d and grey yarnStockings, worsted cap, felt hat, and is suspected to have forged a
pass of freedom for his protection with him. Any person that shall
take up said Negro, and commit him to Gaol (Jail), and secure the
Papers, if any, and send me Tidings of the same, or to Messieurs
Samuel Hewes and Son, merchants of Boston, shall have FIVE Dollars
reward, and all necessary Charges paid. This likewise is to forbid all
Masters of Vessels from carrying said negro away.
Now we will “break” into groups
• At your tables, you’ll be assigned 1-2
of the documents in the packet.
• After we’re done analyzing, we will
come together to fill in the chart as a
group with each table providing the
“expert” analysis for their sources.
Now let’s examine some
deeper questions:
• Each table will have 1-2 questions to answer:
• Examine the detail given to the physical appearance and dress of the runaways. Describe the
“typical” depiction of slaves and servants. What were the typical clues (spoken or otherwise)
that indicated a person’s status of slave, servant, or free?
• What evidence is presented of the techniques and methods runaways used to make their
way to freedom? What skills or attributes were helpful in doing so? Look closely at sources
4,12, and 13; who was most likely to help a runaway to freedom and why?
• What types of racial and ethnic diversity presents itself in the advertisements? How does the
indication of a place of origin contribute to how you view their motive and method for
running away?
• Are there significant differences in how the advertisements are constructed from one region
to another? Create a 3-circle Venn Diagram that highlights the regional variations in slavery
and servitude in colonial America.
• Where in the advertisements do you see evidence of different methods used to re-capture
runaway slaves? Do they differ from the methods utilized to apprehend servants? How?
This is a great opportunity to create a T-Chart or a Venn Diagram.
• Using the evidence in the advertisements, compare the institutions of slavery and servitude
in colonial America. Construct a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting the worlds of
slaves and servants.
More content and context:
• We can look in many different areas for context:
• Why did owners wait a significant period of time
before placing an advertisement?
• Politically . . . In the power relationship between
slave/ servant and master, a form of protest was
often to run away for a few days. Since placing an
ad in the paper was an additional cost (economic),
an owner needed to wait until it was certain a
runaway had occurred.
What happens after the
• Let’s link this to our prior knowledge!
• After the American Revolution we begin to see the end of
indentured servants as many saw this as incompatible to
democratic values
• I know I know – We could be perplexed by this for DAYS and DAYS
• Also – as the northern states began to industrialize at a more
rapid pace than the south, wage labor gradually changed the
system of journeyman and apprentice (who used to receive
room, board and clothing instead of wages).
• An aside – the change in this system led to MORE social and
geographic segregation between employer and employee,
thereby changing the relationship . . . We could look further into
the rise of unions and as a NEXT BIG STEP.
BUT: The system of slavery
also changed:
• As slavery and indentured servitude receded in the
north, technological innovations and westward
expansion assisted in making slave labor the cornerstone
of the Southern economy.
• This is going to lead to the beginning of an uneasy
relationship between the Northern and Southern states
over the issue of states rights . . .
• (And I’m not talking about the right to secede or the
South’s wish to nullify Federal law) . . .
The North’s Argument for
States Rights . . .
• Northern states (inspired by Abolitionists) attempted to refuse
to enforce Fugitive slave laws:
• Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution
• Prohibits states from passing laws that would confer freedom upon
runaways from other states
• And the 1850 Federal Fugitive Slave Law
• (Lesson learned, States Rights is not only
associated with the South)
• How might we adapt this “type” of assignment?
• What modifications could we make if students
have no prior knowledge?
• Prior knowledge is an interesting thing indeed.
In creating this presentation I had to
understand that you as the “learner” had
some prior knowledge but your students
probably wouldn’t have any (depending on
grade level etc etc)
Thank You!
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