Fugitive Slave Advertisement, New Jersey, August 15, 1723
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Regional Fugitive Slave Advertisements

 

1723 - 1726: Jack escapes repeatedly from Gabriel Stelle in Shrewsbury, New Jersey

1723 New Jersey Fugitive Slave advertisement.

RUN away about the 15th of June last, from Gabriel Stelle of Shrewsbury, a Negro man named Jack, of a small stature, he had on an Osenbrigs shirt and a wollen shirt, a pair of Leather Breeches, a dark homespun Jacket a dark Cloase bodied fashionable Coat with a brown Kersey Great-Coat, an old Beaver hat, a pair of square toed shoes with wooden heels, he is a Madagascar Negro. Whoever takes up the said Negro and brings him to his said Master, or to Isaac Stelle in Allens-Town, shall have two Pistoles as a Reward besides Reasonable Charges.

Jack escaped from Stelle in June 1723 but this ad did not appear until August. Either Stelle thought Jack would return voluntarily after a short while at large or Stelle was confident of capturing him on his own without paying a reward. Note that, despite the warm weather of June, Jack left with plenty of clothing, good shoes and a hat, all of which would enable him to remain outside on the road for long periods of time.

Jack was described by Stelle as "a Madagascar Negro." Multiple ethnicities comprise the Malagasy peoples of Madagascar, with many having lighter skin and strighter hair than people indiginous to the mainland African continent. The slave ship voyage from Madagascar to Europe and the Americas was considerably longer and more treacherous than voyages from the slave trading ports on the western coast of Africa. That a thriving slave trade from Madagascar existed points to the premium placed by European and American slaveholers on people from that island. This may be due to their distinct physical appearance, and therefore explains why the slaveholder decided to include the description in this ad.

1725 New Jersey Fugitive Slave advertisement.

RUN away the 26th of last May, from Gabrel Stelle of Shrewsbury, in the County of Monmouth, and Province of New-Jersey, a Negroe Man, named Jack, aged about 40 Years; he is a short Negroe, and a Malagasco, he had on an old Home-spun coat, old Shoes and Stockings.
Whosoever takes up the said Negroe, so that his said Master may have him again, shall have a Pistole as a Reward, besides reasonable Charges.

September 1726 Fugitive Slave ad from New Jersey.

RUN away the 17th of this Instant September from Gabrel Stelle of Shrewsbury, in the County of Monmouth, and Province of New-Jersey, a Negroe Man Named Jack, aged about 40 Yeaers; he is a short Negroe, and a Malagasco, he had on Homespun Cloaths. Whoever takes up the said Negroe, so that his Master may have him again, shall have a Pistole as a Reward, besides reasonable Charges.

From the next two ads, shown above, we learn that Gabriel Stelle eventually got possession of Jack again after his 1723 escape. It is possible Jack returned voluntarily after some time on the road, but more probably he was identified and captured. Less than two years after his first escape, Jack again got away from Stelle. From the slaveholder's June 1725 ad we learn that Jack was estimated to be about 40 years old, and either he left with fewer clothes, or Stelle neglected to go into that extra detail in his ad. He did reduce his offered reward, however, to one pistole instead of two. Jack's second escape attempt was short-lived and he was returned to the Shrewsbury plantation. But by September of the following year he was gone again. From the ad placed by Stelle to recover him after this third attempt we learn few additional details. Stelle still estimated his age at "about 40 years old," and as for his clothing, merely notes that he was dressed in homespun. The reward is still only one pistole, probably reflecting his confidence in once more reclaiming the man from Madagascar. No further advertisements appear in newpapers from Philadelphia.

Sources:The American Weekly Mercury (Philadelphia), 01 August 1723. This initial ad ran again on August 15, 1723. The second escape ad was published in The American Weekly Mercury on 03 June 1725, and the third escape ad in the same newspaper on 22 September 1726 .


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