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Regional Fugitive Slave Advertisements


August 5, 1794: Adonis, enslaved by Raymond Bedouret at Wilmington, escapes in July.

August 1794 fugitive slave advertisement from Wilmington, Delaware, to capture Adonis--in English and French.

Eight dollars reward.

A Negro, named ADONIS, ran away from Wilmington, state of Delaware, that 22d July. The said Negro is about five feet 7 inches high, English measure, Congo nation, speaks very bad English, and worses French, about 28 or 30 years old, big and fat, his face large and ugly, his nose very large and flat, knock kneed. -- He dresses sometimes in a green jacket and trowsers.

It is supposed the said Negro is now in Philadelphia; the person or persons who know where he is, are desired to arrest him and send him to his master, M. Raymond Bedouret, at Wilmington, or to New-Castle, to Mr. Hokin, jail keeper, where the above reward will be paid.
Aug. 1

Notes: This is one of very few advertisements from this period to appear in a Middle Atlantic newspaper in both English and French. Raymond Bedouret is likely a French national visiting Wilmington, or possibly a citizen of heavily French New Orleans. Under Maximillien Robespierre, the French First Republic abolished slavery in all French colonies as of February 1794. It was re-instated by Napoleon in 1802 in response to a threatened revolt by sugar cane plantation owners in the French Caribbean. Raymond Bedouret may also be from that area.

Bedouret's description of the escaped Adonis is offensive and racist, but he does mention that the freedom seeker is Congolese. This fits with the state of the slave trade at this time, as France had recently replaced the Portuguese as the chief exporters of enslaved Africans from the Congo, most of whom were shipped to Haiti to work the sugar cane plantations.

Additional Research: Compare this ad with the July 1791 ad from Philadelphia in which a 26-year-old Negro man named Adonis escaped from on board the ship "Dolphin." Further research is needed to determine if this might be the same man.

Source: Gazette of the United States (Philadelphia), 05 August, 1794, page 1.

Covering the history of African Americans in central Pennsylvania from the colonial era through the Civil War.

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