May 20

Who was the subject of an advertisement in a colonial American newspaper published 250 years ago this week?

Pennsylvania Packet (May 18, 1772).

“RUN AWAY … a Negro Man, named PETER.”

This advertisement testifies to both the mobility of enslaved people who liberated themselves by fleeing from their enslavers and the efforts of enslavers to capture and return to bondage fugitives seeking freedom.  Peter, “a Negro Man … of a yellow complexion,” escaped from Patrick Simpson’s plantation near Charleston, South Carolina, in the late spring or early summer of 1771.  Nearly a year later, an advertisement describing Peter ran in the Pennsylvania Packet.  The dateline in the advertisement indicated that it had originated in New York, not Charleston.  Hallett and Hazard, merchants who presumably operated on behalf of Simpson, informed readers that they would receive “TEN DOLLARS REWARD” for apprehending Peter and securing him “in any [jail] in Pennsylvania or New-Jersey” and notifying local agents in Philadelphia or Princeton.

What prompted Simpson to believe that Peter might have made it to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or any of the neighboring colonies?  The advertisement described him as a “sensible, plausible fellow” and indicated that he spoke “very proper E[n]glish.”  Peter may have been able to pose as a free man as he made his way north, especially if it was obvious from his speech that he was “country born” rather than “new” from Africa.  When Simpson could not locate Peter in South Carolina, he might have suspected that he made his way to another colony.

In his attempt to capture and once again enslave Peter, Simpson enlisted the aid of both local agents and the general public.  Hallett and Hazard in New York, Peter Wikoff in Philadelphia, and Peter Gordon in Princeton all assisted Simpson, but the advertisement also called on others to engage in surveillance of Black men they encountered to assess if any of them matched the Peter’s description.  That meant observing their physical characteristics, their clothing, and their comportment as well as assessing their speech.  John Dunlap, the printer of the Pennsylvania Packet, also aided Simpson, earning revenues when he published the advertisement.  Capturing Peter was not simply a local matter, one confined to newspaper notices published in South Carolina and readers in that colony.  Instead, Simpson relied on an extensive apparatus as he sought to once again deny Peter his liberty.

April 2

GUEST CURATOR:  Brian Looney

Who was the subject of an advertisement in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Maryland Gazette (April 2, 1772).

“RAN away … a Mulatto Man Slave called Stephen Butler.”

Advertisements offering rewards for enslaved people who freed themselves by running away were common in American newspapers before and after the American Revolution. This advertisement describes Stephen Butler, “a Mulatto Man Slave” who knew that the system was morally wrong and never stopped trying to break it.  Leonard Boarman, the advertiser, stated that Butler worked as a carpenter and “has been pretty well known as a Runaway for these 30 Years.”  He also said that Butler would try to “make his Escape” if anyone caught him.  Boarman knew that Butler was committed to living as a free man.  Many other enslaved people also ran away from their enslavers before and after the colonies fought a war for independence.  That caused Congress to pass legislation to enforce the return of enslaved people. George Washington signed into law the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, further strengthening the Fugitive Slave Clause in the Constitution.  Freedom meant different things to different people during the era of the American Revolution.

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:  Carl Robert Keyes

Brian has chosen an advertisement that delivers a very rich narrative about “a Mulatto Man Slave called Stephen Butler.”  Boarman claims that Butler “RAN away” from his plantation, but he also suggests that Butler lived independently for three decades.  Butler possessed several skills that may have allowed him to earn a living away from Boarman’s plantation.  He “works at tight coopering, sawing and Wheel-work” and “is by Trade a Carpenter.”  Those skills likely helped him to forge relationships with colonizers who cared more about the contributions he could make to their community than whether an enslaver claimed Butler as his property.

Boarman indicated that very well may have been the case.  He claimed that Butler “has so great a Correspondence” or interaction “amongst many white People, that he never was once taken only by myself.”  Apparently other colonizers accepted Butler as a free man and even aided him in evading Boarman.  The enslaver declared that Butler “has confessed to me and many others where he has been harboured and whose Houses he resorted.”  In addition, Butler “has worked for several by Stealth,” putting his skills as a carpenter to good use.  Boarman declined to name those who had previously assisted Butler, but also threatened that if he could “make Proof either against white or black” accomplices then he would “proceed against them as the Law directs.”

Indeed, the law assessed penalties on anyone who assisted fugitives seeking their freedom.  Butler and others often relied on extended communities to aid them in liberating themselves and maintaining their freedom, but that did not prevent the state from imposing measures intended to return them to enslavement.  As Brian points out, the U.S. Constitution included a Fugitive Slave Clause that Congress later strengthened with the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793.  Such legislation endangered people like Butler who managed to integrate into communities as free men and women, putting the power of the state behind the demands that enslavers like Boarman made in newspaper advertisements and legal documents.  This advertisement tells an incredible story of resistance in the face of many challenges presented by both aggrieved enslavers and a legal system that privileged enslavement over freedom.

November 12

Who was the subject of an advertisement in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (November 12, 1771).

“RUN-AWAY … six Angola negro men.”

“LIBERTY … excellent Accommodations.”

In the fall of 1771, John Edwards and Company sought freight and passengers for the Liberty, soon departing Charleston for Bristol.  In an advertisement in the November 12, 1771, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, Edwards and Company promised “excellent Accommodations” for passengers.  Two aspects of the advertisement helped draw attention to it:  the name of the ship, “LIBERTY,” in capital letters and a large font as well as a woodcut of a ship at sea.  Wind seemed to fill the sails and unfurl the flags, suggesting a quick and comfortable journey.  The advertisement for freight and passage aboard the Liberty appeared two notices below another advertisement that also incorporated a woodcut.  That image, however, depicted an enslaved man on the run.  He seemed to move in the opposite direction across the page in relation to the ship adorning the advertisement for the Liberty, testifying to the very different conceptions of liberty among enslavers and enslaved people in South Carolina in the era of the American Revolution.

Francis Yonge placed that advertisement to offer a reward for the capture and return of not just one enslaved man but instead “six Angola negro men” who had “RUN-AWAY” from his plantation at the end of October.  Yonge purchased the men a few months earlier, suggesting that they had only recently arrived in South Carolina and “cannot as yet speak English.”  Readers could also identify them by the clothing they wore, blue jackets and breeches made of “negro cloth” with their enslaver’s initials sewn “in scarlet cloth … upon the forepart of their jackets.”  Yonge selected the rough cloth for its low costs, not for its comfort.  Such callousness would have been familiar to the six men from Angola by the time Yonge outfitted them at his plantation.  After all, they had survived the Middle Passage on a ship that did not offer “excellent Accommodations” for its human cargo, unlike the Liberty that carried passengers from South Carolina to England.  As was so often the case in early American newspapers, advertisements that perpetuated the enslavement of Africans and African Americans appeared in stark contrast to other advertisements, editorials, and articles that promoted, in one way or another, the liberty that white colonists demanded for themselves.

October 24

GUEST CURATOR:  Katie Galvin

Who was the subject of an advertisement in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette (October 24, 1771).

“RUN-AWAY … a NEGRO MAN, named HECTOR … Also a Negro Man, named MAIDSTONE.”

This advertisement concerns an enslaved man named Hector, along with another enslaved man named Maidstone. Both men ran away from James Sinkler’s plantation.  Sinkler claimed that Hector was “supposed to be harboured at Mr. Boone’s plantation… where his Father and Mother reside.” This means that Hector was attempting to run away and return to his family and that they helped him by hiding him. Many enslaved people at the time were separated from family and friends during auctions or other sales. Sinkler said that Maidstone has been “lately purchased at the Sale of Mr. JAMES LE BAS Estate,” so he has been recently stripped away from his community.

Maidstone and Hector had experiences similar to many other enslaved people. According to Victoria Bissell Brown and Timothy J. Shannon, enslaved people often ran away for reasons more than the mistreatment from masters. Sometimes they were “trying to preserve a family that was being driven apart by a sale.”[1] Many enslaved people wanted to liberate themselves and reunite with their families.  Historians at the National Park Service’s Ethnography Program also state that “enslaved people ran away to reestablish marital and family ties or to protest changes in ownership or even to join prospective mates from whom they’ve been separated from.”

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:  Carl Robert Keyes

James Sinkler made a significant investment in his efforts to recover two men he enslaved.  Katie chose to examine his advertisement that ran in the South-Carolina Gazette on October 24, 1771, but that is not the only newspaper that carried Sinkler’s notice.  As guest curator for the Slavery Adverts 250 Project, Katie also worked with Sinkler’s advertisement in the October 28 edition of the South-Carolina and American General Gazette and the October 29 edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal.  Sinkler was so eager to recapture Hector and Maidstone that he placed notices in every newspaper printed in Charleston, increasing the dissemination of his advertisement and encouraging greater numbers of colonists to engage in surveillance of Black men to determine if they matched the descriptions that appeared in print.

By the time Sinkler’s advertisement appeared in those newspapers in late October, they had already been running for months.  As work has continued on the production of the Slavery Adverts 250 Project, other guest curators and I have learned that Sinkler’s advertisements continued to appear well into 1772.  We have not yet determined when Sinkler discontinued them.  That the advertisements ran for so long suggests that Hector and Maidstone managed to elude detection and evade capture for quite some time.  They may have received assistance from family and friends in the places Sinkler suspected, but they may have gone in completely different directions than he imagined.  The same may have been true for Cudjoe, Jemmy, Rynah, Venus, and Dye, five enslaved people who fled from Peter Sinkler and James Sinkler on the last day of March in 1771.  The Sinklers thought that the fugitives seeking their freedom “intend for Ponpon, where they lately lived.”  If they did, no one there spotted them and attempted to claim the reward.  That advertisement also continued to run in October, more than six months later.

The archive includes many silences, including the fates of most enslaved people who attempted to liberate themselves by running away from those who held them in bondage.  That advertisements about Hector and Maidstone ran for many months suggests that the men managed to make good on their escape.  At the very least, they were not recaptured quickly or easily.  The text of the advertisement offers insights into their experiences, but tracking it through multiple newspapers over an extended period helps to reconstruct a more complete story of what might have happened.  Even then, the silences in the archive prevail.

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[1] Victoria Bissel Brown and Timothy J. Shannon, “Colonial America’s Most Wanted: Runaway Advertisements in Colonial Newspapers,” in Going to the Source: The Bedford Reader in American History, eds. Brown and Shannon (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004), 50.

October 1

GUEST CURATOR:  Carl Allard

Who was the subject of an advertisement in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (October 1, 1771).

“RUN-AWAY … a negro man named JACK.”

One part of the mission of the Slavery Adverts 250 Project is to understand the lives of enslaved people through information gathered from “RUN-AWAY” advertisements. In late September 1771, an enslaved man named Jack liberated himself by running away from Meyer Moses, a colonist who bore the name of the biblical figure who liberated the enslaved Israelites yet ironically sought to return Jack to bondage. This advertisement not only details the fascinating biography of Jack, but also remains a testimony to hope. Jack’s escape, a struggle against immense opposition, runs parallel to what we know of his medical history. The ad states Jack was, “much pitted in the face with the small pox, one of his feet frost-bitten.” According to Elizabeth Fenn, medical data from that era suggests the mortality rate of smallpox was quite high; if the hemorrhaging pustules overlapped, one stood a 60 percent chance of dying.  Certainly, Jack’s self-liberation was just the latest in a series of struggles that he had overcome. The advertisement reveals that Jack “speaks good English.” This skill, as David Waldstreicher notes, might have been a powerful tool to secure passage on a ship, as the advertisement stated Jack planned on doing.[1] Waldstreicher also observes that self-liberated people, such as Jack, were often self-fashioning. Clothing choice, such as the “soldier’s coat” Jack wore, was central to the success of enslaved people pursuing freedom, allowing them to try to blend in as free.[2]

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:  Carl Robert Keyes

For the next three months, the Adverts 250 Project and the Slavery Adverts 250 Project will feature work undertaken by students who enrolled in my Research Methods: Vast Early America course at Assumption University in Spring 2021.  Required of all History majors in the spring of their junior year to prepare them to pursue their own projects under the direction of a faculty mentor in the capstone seminar in the fall of their senior year, Research Methods focuses on important skills:  accessing and interpreting primary sources and understanding and evaluating secondary sources.  Students complete an historiographical essay for their final project in Research Methods, but throughout the semester they complete smaller projects that help them develop their skills.

To that end, I invite my students to serve as guest curators for the digital humanities projects I have created.  As guest curator, Carl Allard, the author of today’s entry, was responsible for navigating four databases of digitized eighteenth-century American newspapers to create an archive of issues originally published between September 26 and October 2, 1771.  From there, he selected an advertisement to feature on the Adverts 250 Project.  He conducted research to identify secondary sources beyond those we examined in class and then drafted a short entry.  I reviewed that draft and offered suggestions for revisions.  Carl then set about editing and resubmitting his entry.  As he worked on his entry, he also made contributions to the Slavery Adverts 250 Project, composing the tweets to accompany the advertisements that appear on the project this week.  He selected a key quotation from each advertisement and inserted a citation that included the name of the newspaper and publication date.  Throughout the process, he adhered to filename conventions and other methodologies not usually visible to readers and followers but imperative for the behind-the-scenes production of the Adverts 250 Project and the Slavery Adverts 250 Project.  As a result, his classmates, my research assistant, and I could all easily access and consult data Carl contributed to the projects as we each completed our own duties in presenting them to the public.

Each student whose work will be featured in the next three months developed the same skills and made similar contributions.  In that regard they were not merely students but junior colleagues who assumed significant responsibilities in the ongoing production of these digital humanities projects.  They did not simply learn about the past; instead, they spent the semester “doing history” as they prepared to once again “do history” this semester in their capstone seminar.  I very much appreciate the hard work and dedication of each of the guest curators from my Research Methods class.

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[1] David Waldstreicher, “Reading the Runaways: Self-Fashioning, Print Culture, and Confidence in Slavery in the Eighteenth-Century Mid-Atlantic,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 56, no. 2 (April 1999): 259-260.

[2] David Waldstreicher, “Reading the Runaways,” 253.

September 22

Who was the subject of an advertisement in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (September 19, 1771).
“It is very customary, in War Time, to procure Passes for them as Freemen.”

During the era of the American Revolution, newspapers from New England to Georgia carried advertisements offering rewards for enslaved people who liberated themselves by running away.  The first of those advertisements appeared almost as soon as colonial printers began publishing newspapers at the turn of the eighteenth century.  In the process of using the press to regain their human property, enslavers sometimes revealed details of other measures used to deny Black men and women their freedom.

Such was the case in an advertisement that Archibald Campbell of Norfolk placed in the September 19, 1771, edition of Purdie and Dixon’s Virginia Gazette.  Campbell lamented that Tom “ABSCONDED from my Service” and likely headed to Williamsburg “to lay Claim to his Freedom.”  Prior to making his escape, the enslaved man served aboard ships and “has been used to the Sea.”  Tom may have had papers that testified to his freedom, but Campbell asserted that those papers were not what they seemed.  The enslaver noted that Tom “was born in the Island of Bermuda, in my Mother in Law’s Family, and given to my Wife when a Child.”  A particular practice in Bermuda explained how Tom may have acquired freedom papers.  “Owners of Vessels” there “generally man them with their Slaves,” Campbell declared, “and it is very customary, in War Time, to procure Passes for them as Freemen, in Case they should be taken by the Enemy.”  In that case, they could not be confiscated as contraband.

In this case, that maneuver might have backfired, but Campbell worked to prevent it.  Campbell suspected that Tom, “who went to Sea from that Island when a Boy” either “had one of those Passes given to him by his then Master” or more recently “got Possession of one that belonged to some other Negro.”  Given the circumstances, any pass that Campbell produced to demonstrate his freedom was not a legitimate pass but instead a legal subterfuge.  At least that was how Campbell wanted others to treat any document that Tom displayed to “lay Claim to his Freedom” in Williamsburg. Campbell insisted that a pass that seemed to benefit a Black man should not be used for that purpose because the original intention was that it protect the interests of his enslaver instead.  When it came to achieving his freedom, Tom faced the injustice of the context in which the pass was written potentially outweighing what the actual words on the page promised.  Despite his courage and conviction, the deck was stacked against him.

August 16

Who was the subject of an advertisement in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

New-London Gazette (August 16, 1771).

“Ran away … a Negro man slave named BOSTON.”

An enslaved man known as Boston was determined to seize his liberty in the summer of 1771.  He escaped from his enslaver, Caleb Humastun of Waterbury, Connecticut, on August 1.  Just over a week later, Boston was captured in Lyme, the town where his former enslaver, Ezra Selden resided.  Perhaps he had ventured there to visit family or friends.  Perhaps he intended to encourage or assist family or friends in freeing themselves as well.  Humastun did not concern himself with such details in the advertisement he placed in the August 16 edition of the New-London Gazette.  Like every other “runaway” advertisement, it relayed events from the perspective of the enslaver rather than the enslaved.  Whatever Boston’s motivation for heading to Lyme, he ended up “hand cuff’d” upon being captured.  That, however, did not prevent him from making his escape, freeing himself a second time.

Humastun cautioned that “Whoever shall take [Boston] up … take care he don’t again escape,” but returning the enslaved man to bondage required more than merely confining him physically “in any of his Majesty’s [jails]” or elsewhere.  Colonists seeking the reward Humastun offered first had to identify and capture (again) the fugitive seeking freedom.  Humastun warned readers against allowing Boston to fool them, noting that he was “pretty talkative, flattering,” and would use those qualities to “tell any story to deceive, so as to prevent being secured.”  In other words, Boston was smart enough to convince others that he was not a runaway, though Humastun, like other enslavers who resorted to placing advertisements in the public prints, turned positive attributes into accusations when it came to describing Boston.  He had not been able to maintain order when it came to keeping Boston laboring in Waterbury, so he instead exercised what power remained to him by shaping the narrative to his own liking when he published an advertisement in the New-London Gazette.  Doing so allowed Humastun to regain some of the authority he lost when Boston liberated himself.  In the end, Humastun’s advertisement revealed more about the enslaver and his insecurities than it did about the formerly enslaved and his reasons for returning to Lyme.

August 2

Who was the subject of an advertisement in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Connecticut Journal (August 2, 1771).

“Run-away … a Molatto Fellow named BEN.”

On July 20, 1771, Ben, an enslaved man, liberated himself from Isaac Woodruff of Waterbury, Connecticut.  Two days later, Woodruff penned a runaway notice to appear in the Connecticut Journal and submitted it to the printing office operated by Thomas Green and Samuel Green in New Haven.  The advertisement appeared in the next issue, published on July 26, and then again in the next two issues on August 2 and 9.  By the time the advertisement first ran, Ben had eluded Woodruff for nearly a week.  That may have been enough time for Ben to put considerable distance between himself and the man who intended to re-enslave, especially if he managed to find work aboard a ship departing for a faraway port.  Woodruff suspected that might be the case, stating that Ben “has been used to the Sea, and tis supposed he will endeavour to get on board some Vessel as soon as possible.”

Woodruff solicited the aid of readers of the Connecticut Journal, encouraging them to engage in surveillance of young Black men in order to identify “a Molatto Fellow … of a Copper Complexion, about 17 Years of Age” with “a black bushy Head of Hair.”  Woodruff also noted that Ben “speaks good English and is addicted to swearing” to aid readers in determining if any of the Black men they encountered might be the fugitive from enslavement.  To encourage their collusion in the endeavor, he offered a reward for “Any Person that shall take up said Fellow, and return him to his Master or give notice where he is.”

In publishing the advertisement, Woodruff embarked on what he hoped would become a community effort to return Ben to bondage.  Thomas Green and Samuel Green, the printers, were already complicit, providing Woodruff space in their newspaper and accepting payment for the advertisement.  They ran the notice on three occasions, but then continued to collude with other enslavers.  The first item on the first page of the August 16 edition, the first published after the last appearance of Woodruff’s advertisement offering a reward for the capture and return of Ben, was an advertisement about “a Negro man slave named BOSTON” who, like Ben, had liberated himself.  The Greens were not unique when it came to publishing such advertisements in their newspaper.  Printers from New England to Georgia generated revenues from notices about enslaved people.  In the process, they played a significant role in the perpetuation of slavery during the era of the American Revolution.

May 24

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Connecticut Journal (May 24, 1771).

“RUN away … a Negro Man named GLASGOW.”

Near the end of April 1770, Dover, an enslaved man, liberated himself from Nathaniel Sperry of New Haven.  As the anniversary of Dover making his escape approached, Sperry turned to the public prints to seek assistance in capturing Dover and returning him to bondage.  To that end, he placed an advertisement in which he described Dover and offered a reward in the Connecticut Journal.  On the night of May 7, 1771, another enslaved man, Glasgow, liberated himself from John Treat of Milford.  On the same night, “a Negro Man named ABEL” liberated himself from Gideon Platt, Jr., also of Milford.  Abel and Glasgow may have worked together to outsmart their enslavers and increase their chances of successfully escaping from their enslavers.  Platt and Treat placed separate advertisements in the Connecticut Journal, perhaps unaware of any possible connection until their notices appeared one after the other in the May 10, 1771, edition of the Connecticut Journal.

All three advertisements ran for three consecutive weeks, but their format shifted during that time.  On May 10, all three appeared in a single column on the final page.  The following week, however, the printers had more content than space, so they improvised by placing the advertisement about Abel in the left column on the second page and the advertisements about Dover and Glasgow in the right margin on the third page.  Since the type had already been set for these advertisements, the printers simply divided them into several columns that ran perpendicular to the other text on the page. Doing so conserved time and effort while also making using of available space since the printers had to make only one small revision, placing the town and date on the same line as John Treat’s name.  For the final appearance in the May 24 edition, all three advertisements returned to the regular columns, each of them reconstituted to their original format (save for the minor change to Treat’s advertisement about Glasgow).

Thomas Green and Samuel Green, the printers of the Connecticut Gazette, minimized the amount of effort required to run the advertisements about Abel, Dover, and Glasgow for three consecutive weeks.  They adopted a common strategy of printing in the margins, a practice that tended to their own interests as entrepreneurs seeking to maximize revenues while reducing expenses.  In the process, they demonstrated their commitment to serving their customers by publishing notices submitted to their printing office, including notices about enslaved people who liberated themselves.  The Greens could have delayed publication of the advertisements about Abel, Dover, and Glasgow by a week, as other printers sometimes did when they had more content than space.  Instead, the Greens invested additional effort in publishing descriptions of the men, even as they conserved their own resources.  Reconfiguring the advertisements twice, even if not starting over on setting type each time, testified to their willingness to give customers access to the power of the press as a means of encouraging surveillance of Black people with the intention of capturing of enslaved people who liberated themselves.

May 10

Who were the subjects of advertisements in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Connecticut Journal and New-Haven Post-Boy (May 10, 1771).

“RUN away last Tuesday Night, a Negro Man named GLASGOW.”

“RUN away last Tuesday Night, a Negro Man named ABEL.”

Sometime during the night of May 7, 1771, Glasgow, “a Negro Man,” made his escape from his enslaver, John Treat of Milford, Connecticut.  Three days later, Treat published an advertisement in the Connecticut Journal and New-Haven Post-Boy.  He provided a description that included Glasgow’s age, height, and clothing.  Treat also offered a reward for “Who ever shall take up and return said Negro.”  Like so many other enslavers, Treat proclaimed that Glasgow had “RUNaway.”  From Glasgow’s perspective, no doubt, he had instead liberated himself.

Glasgow was not the only enslaved man in Milford who seized his liberty that night.  According to Gideon Platt, Jr., Abel also escaped from bondage on May 7.  Platt also resorted to placing an advertisement in hopes that other colonists would take note of Black men they encountered, scrutinize them to determine whether they matched the description in the newspaper, and, if they spotted Abel, “take up said Negro, and return him to [Platt], or send Word so that he may have him again.”  Platt encouraged readers to attend to age and physical characteristics, but he also reported that Abel “talks good English.”  Linguistic ability as well as appearance could help identify this fugitive from enslavement.

Platt’s advertisement describing Abel appeared immediately below Treat’s advertisement offering a reward for the capture and return of Glasgow in the May 10 edition of the Connecticut Journal.  While not definitive evidence, that Abel and Glasgow happened to depart on the same evening suggests that they may have worked together in seeking freedom, believing that cooperation increased their chances of outsmarting their enslavers.  If they were initially unaware of this coincidence when separately submitting their notices to the printing office, Platt and Treat almost certainly recognized the possibility when they saw their advertisements in the newspaper.

Just as both enslavers told a story filtered through their own perspectives when they stated that Abel and Glasgow had “RUN away,” they likely did not present an account of events that accurately related all of the details or gave Abel and Glasgow credit for coordinating their escape.  Though it was not their intention, Platt and Treat published short narratives that testified to the agency and perseverance exhibited by Abel and Glasgow.  Still, those narratives were incomplete and did not reveal the experiences of the enslaved men as well as if they had recorded their own stories.