Sp 2013 Introduction to Fiction

At the BHS, we looked at two documents that advertised slave runaways.

1. The first document that we looked at was a typescript journal of a John Baxter of Flatlands, Long Island. A slave owner

-the document was a big green book and the pages of it looked somewhat delicate, which indicates that it was old

-it was from the time periods of 1805- May 1817

-it was published in Brooklyn, NY 1955

-the farm that he owned was located in Flatlands, Long Island

-in page 21 of the journal; from July-Sept of 1807 we read events that go on in the man’s life and at the barn he owned

-he states that a slave ran off- of the name Abraham Wyckoff

-in page 133 of the journal;  from April-June of 1815, Mr. Baxter’s “negro ran away” as he states on May 19th

– on May Mr. Baxter went to the town to publish an ad for his runaway slave, with a reward of $80 on May 22

2.The second document  that we looked at was a runaway slave ad in a newspaper

-A.H Inskeep was the one who put up the ad

– it was for a mulatto named George of about 22 years of age

-he was described as tall and slender

-it cautioned all persons not to harbor or employ said boy

-it was estimated that the boy ran away June 2-3

The “runaway slave” gave a detailed description of how slaves who escaped slavery were advertised in the media. It gave us an idea of the reasons why a slave owner may or may not advertise when his slaves runaway.

The book gave the age range of slaves likely to escape as in between the late twenties to early thirties and are usually male. It is so because women are quite indecisive when it comes to risk taking and because the act is physical they might prefer to opt for life of slavery rather take this risk since they consequences of being caught totally out weighed the life of slavery. The age and gender of the runaways tells us that slaves at this stage of their lives are much more likely to be angered by what goes on in their lives and are strong enough to through the hardship of escape.

Most of the escapees were considered black; a striking seventy percent in the early period. I believe this was so because obviously most of the slaves were black. I guess the rape of slaves by their owners and their allies were not that common at the early stages so the number of “mixed breeds” were significantly low compared to the blacks. Also the appearance of the slave was quite striking when they escaped. Even though most slaves were believed to own one clothing, most of them had a lot of clothing during the escape. Some of them stole the clothing from their owners whilst others stole materials and manufactured them. With this slaves were able to disguise themselves wearing different clothes as the owners advertise using the clothing they believed they wore at the time of escape. Another thing is that, slaves with scars on the outer parts of their bodies were less likely to escape as they are easily identified with the scar. The very few who escaped uses their  clothes to cover the scars so they are not recognized.

      Comparing all documents, The journal of a John Baxter of Flatlands, Long Island a slave owner, the runaway slave advertisement in a newspaper of the mulatto named George and the “runaway slaves” by John Hope Franklin/Loren Schweninger shows a lot of things in common. in the chapter the “runaway slaves” gave the age range of slaves likely to escape as in between the late twenties to early thirties and are usually male and in the advertisement for the mulatto named George he falls into that category, in the ad he is 22 years old still in his early twenties. also in the “runaway slaves” it gives a few examples of different slave reward ads that are very similar to the ad for George in the newspaper. the ads usually start with a runaway slave or negro man and followed by the day the slaved escaped, then with a description of the slave, the height, skin color whether they were dark or light skinned usually called mulattos but they were also called yellow, light bacon, light copper. then what the slave was wearing and any significant or unique features to make the slaves easily identifiable such as scars. then the reward.

      the difference between the journal of john baxter and the rest of the documents is that it is the few of the other side of the coin. point of view of the slave owners, the “masters”. it shows he went to the news paper to place the ad a reward for $80. another difference is that in the “runaway slave” not only does it just show african slaves in the south where there more ethnic diversity the ads differ from the ads in the north. slaves were usually bilingual, spoke spanish and english and may also have spoken french. one ad in the south a creole slave ran away and were called negrees. in the ad it usually describes these slaves and “american creole”, “american mulatto” and “american negro”

 

What is striking in “Beloved” is that Sethe was pregnant with Denver at the time she ran away but in the “runaway slave profile”, it indicated that women were less likely to run because they would not want to leave their children behind. It also indicated that most of those who run were strong because the escape was quite rough. That action by Sethe tells us a lot about her character. It gives quite an understanding on how her struggles had an effect on her courage to run.

There was no obvious mention of an advertisement by Mr. Garner when Howard, Burglar or any of the “sweete Home” men run away. So it will be quite difficult to relate the two in this regard but obviously most of the characters in who run away “Beloved” share a lot of the characteristics with those slaves description in the “ runaway slave profile”.

 

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