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a book about Harrisburg...

by George F. Nagle


Table of Contents

Study Areas:



Free Persons of Color

Underground Railroad

The Violent Decade

US Colored Troops

Civil War


Chapter Six (continued)
No Haven on Free Soil

If Not Secreted
by Negroes in Philadelphia

Despite the success of a few persons such as the Blue Mountain slave George Washington and his unnamed companion, or the resourceful Joseph Johns, hiding in Pennsylvania’s back woods for an extended period of time was not an option for the vast majority of fugitive slaves, particularly after the end of the French and Indian War opened up lands west of the Susquehanna River for settlement. Remote mountainsides were becoming a rarity and locations that could support more than a single hut without drawing the attention of the landowner were almost nonexistent.

Rare, too, was the runaway slave that possessed the necessary skills and knowledge to survive winter alone in the northern wilderness. Indian settlements were pushed further and further west, making a trek toward that haven much longer than in previous decades, and forty years of bitter war meant that the welcome from that quarter was no longer guaranteed. Yet even as these early harbors were closed to fugitive slaves, other options opened up.

The most immediate source of sympathy for a set-upon slave was another slave, or a person who knew personally the horrors of bondage. This might be a person who had formerly been a slave and was now living free, or it might be a person who had someone in his or her family who was or had been a slave. In the earliest days of slaveholding in Pennsylvania, it was the slave community itself that provided the cover stories, alibis, the extra clothing and food, and the hiding places that allowed an extra hour, or maybe a day, for a person to make good their escape. But the tools and resources of slaves were very limited, particularly so if the slaves lived in the same household as their masters.

This was the most common arrangement in the earliest days of slavery in Pennsylvania, but over the decades, the living and working arrangements changed to allow a little more freedom and independence to enslaved workers. As slave-holding households grew in wealth, they often upgraded their structures, replacing a two-room weatherboard house with a fieldstone Georgian manor, and at the same time increasing their stable of servile help. Separate sleeping quarters might be added to the back of the house or in an outbuilding, so that slaves no longer had to bed down each night on a pallet next to the fire in the common room.

While this gave a greater sense of decorum to socially rising, self-styled yeoman farmers by removing the slaves from the same rooms they shared with the family, it also gave these same slaves more freedom because their every move was no longer constantly scrutinized. Slaves who were removed from the unblinking supervision of colonial masters had more chances to hide a spare shirt, take a little extra time to make plans with a comrade, or to cook an extra helping of dinner to put by for someone planning a journey. Slaves who lived in separate quarters, and who performed their labors away from the constant supervision of overseeing eyes, could offer more help: surplus food to carry, an extra garment, sometimes a corner in which to sleep for a night, perhaps even a pass to avoid arrest. Such arrangements became more common in Philadelphia as the city grew and prospered.

Gradually, and especially as European bound servants became available, some slaveholders began to find reasons to manumit their slaves. At some point, free blacks began to appear in Philadelphia, and free persons often had more resources yet. As some African slaves slowly earned or were given free status, a small free African American community began to emerge in Philadelphia and its environs. This community, severely hampered by the legacy of slavery and stifling racism, grew very slowly at first. But it benefited by the incredible intersection of several providential circumstances, including the gradual awakening to the horrors and injustices of slavery by the politically dominant Quaker community, the importation not only of tens of thousands of bound European servants, but of black slaves imported directly from the shores of Africa, a blossoming intellectual examination of human rights and of man’s natural rights, and a revolutionary struggle that severed English domination of the young colony.

Within that final rebellious struggle was a monumental new law—Pennsylvania’s Gradual Abolition Act—that intended to forever draw a distinct line between slaves and free persons, and although that line would later be intentionally blurred by those who sought gain from the continued domination of blacks, it ultimately delineated Pennsylvania’s southern border as the line between bondage and liberation. Each of these factors contributed to the enrichment and growth of the free African American community in Philadelphia, culminating in the emigration of hundreds of free blacks fleeing the turmoil of bloody revolution in Haiti.

It was a community born of the best of mankind’s intentions, and the worst, steeped in economic and social hardship, yet tempered with a fierce pride and determination to survive. It watched out for its own, and welcomed the oppressed, forever feeding on a steady diet of rebellion. No other place in Pennsylvania would be a more inviting destination for fugitive slaves.

Even in its earliest days, the African American community of Philadelphia, consisting of both bound and free blacks, was known to harbor escaped slaves. Dr. Thomas Graeme advertised in 1749 for the return of his “Molattoe man nam’d Will,” who had escaped from the plantation at Graeme Park, in Horsham. The politically powerful Graeme warned that “all persons, Negroes as well as others, are forbid to harbour him at their peril.”25

Although his tough talk was meant as a warning, it is worth noting that Graeme was forced to acknowledge the significant role already being played by free and enslaved blacks alike, in Philadelphia at this early date. The free black population of the city was still miniscule, as voluntary manumissions were slow until the following decade. Nearly all the “Negroes” that Graeme was referring to were enslaved at this point, living in the household or on the estate of their white owners. But by the 1740s, increasingly large numbers of these slaves were living and working in separate quarters not under the direct supervision of these same owners, and therefore increasingly able to provide aid and possible safe harbor, to freedom seekers.

Philadelphia had experienced a tremendous expansion of its slave population through this period, spurred by lower tariffs and even lower prices for slaves. By the mid-1740s, slaves accounted for between eight and nine percent of the total population of the city. The percentage of slaves had been even higher in the decades prior to this, reaching an astounding 17.4 percent of the total population of Philadelphia in the years from 1701 to 1710, although the actual number of slaves in that decade was less than in later years. The number of slaves fell in the 1720s, before rising again by the time that Graeme lost his slave Will.

Even at this point, however, there were still probably less than 800 slaves in that community.26 The “others” mentioned by Graeme, were white sympathizers: those who objected to slavery on religious and moral grounds—generally Quakers—and, increasingly, white bound and indentured servants, who shared many of the hardships of forced labor and were forging tenuous alliances with enslaved blacks.

The tendency of escaped slaves to seek shelter in the cramped slave quarters and workshops of Philadelphia had been noticed earlier. The first newspaper to appear in Philadelphia, the American Weekly Mercury, included runaway slave ads in its first issue in December 1719. Ads for runaway black slaves in the 1720s sometimes noted that the escapee was believed to be “lurking” about the city, a term that came to mean the person was either being supported by friends, family members or fellow slaves, or was possibly working covertly and illegally for someone.

The latter prospect would come to be a great problem in later years, even though authorities took steps to curb such practices almost immediately. Laws regulating the behavior of blacks, up to this time in the colony, were sporadic. In the summer of 1693, the Philadelphia City Council took action to control “tumults by slaves,” which was probably motivated by culture clash between the city’s English residents and their newly acquired African bondsmen.

Africans constituted about ten percent of the city population at this point, with the majority of them having been part of that first significant shipment of 150 captive Africans, on the Isabella, in 1684. Having spent fewer than ten summers on the American continent, African customs, language, dance, music, cooking, and celebrations were still actively practiced by the forced immigrants, particularly when the opportunity to congregate with fellow Africans presented itself, usually on Sundays, the day on which most work was discouraged or prohibited, even for slaves. With reduced obligations to their masters, many slaves were allowed a limited amount of free time on Sundays, during which they sought out the company of fellow Africans, often in the common areas of the city. These gatherings were commented upon in Watson’s Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, published in 1857:

Many can still remember when the slaves were allowed the last days of the fairs for their jubilee, which they employed in dancing the whole afternoon in the present Washington square, then a general burying ground -- the blacks joyful above, while the sleeping dead reposed below! In that field could be seen at once more than one thousand of both sexes, divided into numerous little squads, dancing, and singing "each in their own tongue" after the customs of their several nations in Africa.

It was not long before the staid English inhabitants of Philadelphia began to complain of “ ‘the great abuse and the ill consequence’ of negroes collecting in crowds on the streets, with riot and disorder.”27 What constituted “riot and disorder” to the upper crust of Pennsylvania society was little more than a blowing off of steam by enslaved blacks, who were taking advantage of the opportunity to visit with friends and family.

A protest was lodged in 1708 with the colonial legislature by white Philadelphia mechanics against the practice of “hiring out of Negroes,” giving some indication of the growing slave population, and its effect on other labor classes. A similar petition was presented in 1722 by white laborers, who were feeling the pinch of unemployment due to jobs lost to slaves.

The protests had little effect on the long-term practice, however, and slaveholders continued to send increasing numbers of their slaves to work temporarily for other people, decreasing even more the amount of direct oversight of slaves by their owners. A supplementary act to a 1721 law regulating inns and public houses, passed in 1721, prohibited certain “traffic with Negroes,” particularly specifying that no liquor should be sold to any Negroes without the leave of their master.

It was not until 1726, however, that Pennsylvania took a significant step to severely limit the growing freedoms enjoyed by the burgeoning slave population, which was centered mostly in Philadelphia. The statute known as "An Act for the Better Regulation of Negroes in this Province" was a fully defined set of Black Codes for the colony that, among many of its provisions, allowed slaveholders to be reimbursed for the death of their slave by execution, should that slave be convicted of a crime punishable by death.

Even more daunting was the prohibition against the freeing of slaves by masters, unless they provided a bond of thirty pounds sterling “to indemnify the county for any charge or incumbrance they may bring upon the same in case such Negro, through sickness or otherwise, be rendered incapable of self-support.” This restriction was even to be applied to manumission by wills, and was to prevent the manumission if the executor or administrator of the estate did not pay the bond. Freedom by manumission was rare during this period, and the provisions of the 1726 law kept it that way for at least another half century. Children and young adults who became free under any circumstances could be retained in slavery until age twenty-one for females and age twenty-four for males.

For those few blacks who had managed to secure their freedom under the law, the regulatory act of 1726 set severe restrictions on their rights, with penalties for violations being an immediate return to slavery. Indolence and idleness were not tolerated from free blacks, and anyone who was found to “loiter and misspend his or her time or wander” from place to place risked being bound out to service for as many years as the judge saw fit. Free blacks who were caught living in a marriage arrangement with a white person were to be returned to slavery for life. In comparison, the restrictions against slave activities were less harsh, although no less restrictive. Slaves were prohibited from drinking liquor and from getting drunk, and were not even allowed in or near places where strong liquor was served. Slaves were also forbidden from hiring their own time out, and, in a nod toward the restriction of travel and free movement, had to carry passes from their masters when away from the estate.

The law moved to further isolate enslaved blacks from free blacks by making it illegal for free blacks to do business with enslaved blacks, without a specific license. Of course it also specifically prohibited the harboring of enslaved blacks by free blacks, and to make matters completely clear, it expressly forbid the “entertainment” of enslaved blacks by free blacks in their homes, without the permission of the slave’s master.28

Yet the law did not go as far as the Black Codes in other states, which often required freed blacks to leave the state, and it did not prohibit free persons of color from owning property. These very important differences help to explain the continued growth of the free African American community of Philadelphia despite the prohibitive aspects of the 1726 law. Though they could not risk appearing idle, become romantically involved with a white person, or be seen doing business with or giving help to a slave, at least they did not have to pack up their possessions and move on. They could remain in the town they knew, work hard at the job they held, and possibly, with luck, establish a household with a spouse and maybe even a child or two.

Those who were really lucky, and who survived the frequent economic downturns, loss of a job due to the death of an employer, sickness and disease, fires and other daily disasters, might even be able to establish a home independent of a white employer, in a cramped apartment, with enough income to keep all of their children at home, instead of being forced to hire them out to white families.

With such high stakes riding on their monitored behavior, it is amazing that any free blacks in Philadelphia would risk it all by giving any sort of aid—a scrap of food, a blanket, a pile of straw to sleep on—to a fugitive slave, much less invite them into their home. But they did.

Twenty-five years later, the situation had not changed much, as far as many white citizens were concerned. The laws of 1726 were still on the books, but the city was still seeing large numbers of blacks entering from the surrounding countryside, and from neighboring states, looking for shelter and work. In 1751, an anonymous reader sent an open letter to Benjamin Franklin and David Hall, the editors of the Pennsylvania Gazette, requesting that they republish certain “Clauses of two Acts of Assembly” in the next issue. In attempting to lay out a case against the free movement of blacks in and around Philadelphia, the letter writer left a good description of the state of affairs for freedom seekers and free blacks in 1751 Philadelphia:

As frequent Complaints have been lately made to the Magistrates of the City of Philadelphia, that Negroes, and other blacks, either Free, or under Pretence of Freedom, have resorted to, and settled in the City; and that Slaves, contracting to pay certain Sums of Money to their Masters, or Owners, have been permitted to wander abroad, and seek their own Employment; several of which Negroes, claiming Freedom, and wandering Slaves, have taken House, Rooms, or Cellars, for the Habitations, where great Disorders often happen, especially in the Night time; and Servants, Slaves, and other idle and vagrant Persons, are entertained, corrupted and encouraged to commit Felonies, and other mischievous Offences, to the great Annoyance and Danger of the Neighbors residing near to such Habitations.29

Specifically, the letter writer asked that the sections of the 1726 law forbidding “any Negroe” from carrying “any Guns, Sword, Pistol, Fowling Piece, Clubs, or any other Arms or Weapons whatsoever,” be reprinted, as well as the section “preventing Negroes meeting and accompanying together…any Day or Time…above the Number of four in Company.” Clearly, the Sunday gatherings of blacks in the city “in great Companies” were continuing, and some of those wandering the streets were armed, to the great consternation of some city residents.

The letter writer also indicated, through his citation of specific laws, that numbers of blacks were regularly loitering around town, and that these idle persons included underage young people. Many of these persons must have been strangers, or looked as if they had just been traveling, or “wandering,” to use the term from the cited law books, as the last laws referred to were those that prohibited a slave from being “absent from his Master or Mistress’ House after nine o’Clock at Night,” and from being “above ten Miles from his or her Master or Mistress’ Habitation,” without a written pass.30

Franklin and Hall saw enough merit in the appeal from the anonymous correspondent that they devoted considerable column space to the requested lengthy excerpts from the twenty-five-year-old law, making it apparent that a considerable number of freedom seekers were now finding safe haven in the “houses, rooms and cellars” of Philadelphia’s free African American community. These free blacks had apparently decided that the risk of losing their wealth, family, and even freedom, was the necessary cost of helping another human being obtain his or her own freedom.

This pattern of fugitive slaves finding haven in Philadelphia with free blacks, as well as with black slaves in large white estates, would persist without considerable interruption until the Revolutionary War, when other options suddenly became available. The two decades before the war saw a significant increase in the number of slaves being brought directly into Philadelphia by merchants, many of these being brought directly from Africa, instead of from the Carolinas or the Caribbean.

Historian Ira Berlin notes “between 1757 and 1766 some 1,300 slaves disembarked in Philadelphia and on the wharves across the river in West Jersey.” As previously noted, this period marked a sea change in the character of the slave trade. Berlin writes, “Northern merchants, who previously had accepted a handful of slaves on consignment, took shiploads, transforming the trade-in-persons from an incidental adjunct of the ongoing system of exchange to a systematic enterprise in and of itself. Moreover, slaves came directly from Africa, often in large numbers.”31

As these new forced immigrants flooded Philadelphia’s wharves, alleys and shops, it became increasingly difficult for authorities to distinguish those who belonged from those who did not. The ability of local blacks to pass off incoming fugitives as newly arrived slaves or newly-hired workers, and to find work for them in the labor-starved city, was a major step forward in the establishment of Philadelphia as Pennsylvania’s first major stronghold on the Underground Railroad.

Dr. Graeme had warned “Negroes, as well as others,” from harboring his slave, Will. His warnings apparently went unheeded. The following year, in 1750, prominent citizen Mordecai Moore lost his man named Jack, who he knew was “lurking about this city.” Jack took the name John Powell, and was an experienced cooper by trade. He probably had little trouble in locating both a place to stay, and enough work to keep him fed, all without having to leave the city.

In another example, twenty-year-old Cuff escaped from goldsmith John Leacock in November 1760, and took refuge in the city. Cuff had been wearing very distinguishable clothing when he ran away: two bearskin jackets, black stockings, and brown broadcloth breeches. Getting a change of clothing was a necessity, and his owner acknowledged that was probably the first thing he did after finding shelter. Goldsmith wrote, “It is thought he is secreted in some Gentleman’s House by Negroes, unknown to their Master, or by some free Negroes, or somewhere in the Skirts of the Town.”32

Goldsmith’s notation that house slaves were known to be hiding fugitives under their own masters’ roofs reveals much about the nature of these early operations in Philadelphia. One of the reasons this became such a common tactic was the difficulty of proving who was a slave and who was a free person. Even though the actual number of free blacks residing in Philadelphia at this time was small, they were not required to carry papers on their persons, as slaves were.

Confusing the issue further was the increasingly common practice of slaveholders allowing their slaves to work and live independently, in conditions very close to that of free persons. Many slaveholders also permitted their slaves to hire out their own time, which was in violation of the 1726 law—it was one of the things complained of by the anonymous annoyed letter writer mentioned above—but violators apparently were seldom fined.

A young fugitive slave named Francisco regularly passed himself off as a free person, taking advantage of the confused state of affairs in the city. Francisco ran away from John Lucken, a German Quaker, a few days after New Years, in 1761. Lucken had been advertising to sell at least one of his slaves, and it is likely Francisco decided at this point to take his chances in the city rather than face being sold. Although blind in one eye and limited in his English, Francisco was fluent in Spanish and Dutch, and was probably able to make good his pretense of freedom.

It was also around the winter holidays that twenty-six-year-old Peter made his escape from Philadelphia resident William Craig. Peter had the foresight to dress for the cold weather, having a bearskin greatcoat and a beaver hat when he ran away. He also took plenty of clothing, including two additional coats, a jacket, several white shirts, a vest, and spare breeches, as well as “several Pieces of Gold, and other Money.” Craig felt that his slave’s teeth were noteworthy enough to be included in the runaway description, being “thin and very sharp,” indicating that Peter had filed teeth, a sign that he was one of the slaves recently brought from Africa. This cultural disparity apparently did not keep Peter from forming a bond with those blacks who were born in America or who had been here long enough to earn their freedom, as his owner was sure that he was “harboured by some free Negroes about this City.”

A similar suspicion was expressed by Philip Fitzsimmons, of Worcester Township, when his teenaged female slave, Hannah, escaped in December 1765. She had only been with Fitzsimmons a few months, having been brought up with Port of Philadelphia Warden Michael Hulings, until Hulings decided to sell her “for no Fault but for want of Employ.” Fitzsimmons noted that Hannah “can tell a plausible Story, and is well acquainted in Philadelphia, [the] Jerseys, and Wilmington,” in which town she had a brother and sister. Her new owner thought she might make her way there “if not secreted by Negroes in Philadelphia.”33

This sudden influx of slaves, free blacks, and freedom seekers into Philadelphia’s African American community was not without problems. Disease and poverty ravaged the African American population of the city during this time, increasing the death rate to more than sixty per thousand in that community. Influenza, whooping cough, smallpox and measles killed blacks in Philadelphia at a significantly higher rate than whites, and the very high infant mortality rate of black Philadelphia families, which probably exceeded fifty percent, according to researcher Susan E. Klepp, contributed to the inability of the black community to grow by natural increase.34

Another key problem lay in the difficulty with which black families were able to stay together. Few of the enslaved blacks in Philadelphia during the pre-Revolutionary period lived in complete family units. It was shown earlier how Pennsylvania slaveholders discouraged pregnancies among their female slaves, not wanting to bear the considerable expense of an infant that would not contribute to the workforce, and took the female slave away from her duties to care for the child. The punishment for becoming pregnant was, more often than not, being sold for “breeding fast,” and female slaves greatly feared being sold away from what small family ties they had been able to maintain. Slave mothers who had children living with them lived with the constant fear of losing their children through a sale, and although some slaveholders specified in their advertisements that mothers and children should be sold together, many did not.

A 1746 advertisement placed by Bucks County slaveholder Lawrence Growdon, of Trevose, offered “A Likely Negro Woman, fit for Town or Country Business, with, or without, a likely Negro Boy. The Woman is between Thirty and Forty Years old, and the Boy about Twelve.” Several decades later, on the eve of the Revolution, the situation had not changed much, as can be seen in this example, whereby a slave family was put up for sale to settle the estate after the death of their owner, Reverend Jonathan DuBois:

To Be Sold, By the Subscriber, in Northampton, Bucks County, Sundry Negroes, late the Property of the Reverend Jonathan Du Bois, deceased, viz. One Negroe Man, 31 Years old, acquainted with Farming, and hath some Knowledge of the Smith Trade, is healthy, active and industrious; a Negroe Woman about 35, with one Child about a Year, and another about 3 Years old; also a Lad, between 6 and 7 Years old. For further Particulars, enquire of Helena Du Bois, Administratrix.35

By 1780, Helena DuBois still had one slave in her possession, a sixteen year-old boy named Harry, whom she registered according to law. Whether Harry was the “lad” mentioned in the above ad, or a different slave, is not known. Ten years later, according to the 1790 census, Harry was no longer living with Helena DuBois.36

Even if slave children were not forever separated by sale, it was more than likely that they would be hired out by the owner, as young boys and girls were a much sought after commodity as house servants. The placement of these children was not infrequently outside of the city, in the suburban counties that surrounded Philadelphia, as many well-to-do slaveholders maintained both a city home and a country farm. Slave children were also often divided by sex, with the boys sent to work on the farm while the girls were kept for domestic work in the city.

As spouses and children were sold and resold among Philadelphia and suburban county slaveholders, slave families soon became scattered throughout the countryside. As a result, groups of slaves found in a given household are not necessarily whole families, and possibly are not even related to each other. For example, an adult male slave found living in a Pennsylvania household may or may not be the husband of an adult female slave in the same household, and those adults might not have any kinship to the slave children in the same household. It became common for slaveholders looking to recover a runaway slave to include fractured family notes, as Jonathan Jones of Manheim, Lancaster County did when his slave Nat Nixon ran away, adding, “He was seen, on the 3d inst. at Downingtown; and said he was going to Philadelphia, to see his mother.”37

Conversely, it was this familiarity with the countryside that allowed many slaves to make good their escape, as they came to know the roads, paths, and turnpikes that connected Philadelphia to the Pennsylvania hinterlands. The same system that separated slave families, keeping some members in the city while moving others to the owner’s suburban farm, was also responsible for the first informal network of safe havens that allowed fugitives to move secretively from one place to the other.

Runaways from the city could count on being taken in by relatives and friends living on a Chester or Bucks county estate. The reverse was also true, as many Chester and Bucks runaways headed for the city, where they would be fed, clothed, and well hidden by kin, until they either found a job at which they could work without being discovered, or they found a way out of the city, very often on a ship or boat. Those fugitives who ran away into the countryside could not stay long at the outlying estate without being discovered, so they generally moved on, usually deeper into the interior of the state, following trails and rough roads to Lancaster, York, and Cumberland counties. Here they eventually found, due to the constant selling and reselling of slaves, friends or relatives who would provide the same support—food, shelter, clothing—that they had found at the rear of estate houses along the roads leading away from the City of Brotherly Love. But with each mile further away from Philadelphia, and its safety net of anonymity, the danger of recapture increased considerably.




War with Britain intervened to change, for a while, the preferred destination for fugitive slaves. Many flocked toward British lines, taking advantage of the safety offered by the crown under Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation. Philadelphia, while it was under occupation by British troops, took in many blacks who, ostensibly, went there to claim their freedom in return for service to the King. But while many evacuated with the British troops when they withdrew from the city in June 1778, many more simply moved on to a different employer, or headed into the countryside to seek other fortunes.

As the chaos of war diminished following the defeat at Yorktown, local authorities could get back to the business of regulating their towns and townships. This meant more time to track and detain fugitive slaves, among other duties, but that job was about to get substantially more complex. The emerging leaders of the newly hatched United States were young men and women who brought with them truly revolutionary ideas about human rights. The same noble ideas of equality that sustained and inspired countless patriots to best the most powerful nation in the world began to manifest themselves in the laws that were being drawn up to govern the new nation. Near the end of the war, and shortly after, several landmark laws were passed that would affect the daily lives of all African Americans, slave and free, for both good and bad, for decades to come, and would forever mark Pennsylvania as a destination for freedom seekers.

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25. Philadelphia Gazette, 24 January 1749.

26. Nash and Soderlund, Freedom by Degrees, 14-16.

27. DuBois, Philadelphia Negro, 412-413; J. Thomas Scharf and Thompson Westcott., History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884, vol. 1 (Philadelphia: L. H. Everts & Co., 1884), 180-182.

28. Nash and Soderlund, Freedom by Degrees, 12-13, 58-59; DuBois, Philadelphia Negro, 413-414.

29. “Messieurs Franklin and Hall,” Pennsylvania Gazette, 5 March 1751.

30. Ibid.

31. Berlin, Many Thousands Gone, 182-183.

32. Pennsylvania Gazette, 13 February 1750, 13 November 1760.

33. Pennsylvania Gazette, 7 January 1762, 23 December 1762, 29 August, 12 December 1765.

34. Susan E. Klepp, “Black Mortality in Early Philadelphia, 1722-1859” (paper, Annual Meeting of the Social Science History Association, Chicago, November 1988), Appendix A, in Nash and Soderlund, Freedom by Degrees, 25.

35. Pennsylvania Gazette, 14 August 1746, 24 March 1773.

36. “Bucks County Prothonotary Records, Register of Slaves,” LR83, Microfilm roll 5395, Pennsylvania State Archives; Bureau of the Census, First Census of the United States, 1790, Northampton Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

37. "Returns of Negro and Mulatto Children Born After the Year 1780, June 7, 1788-November 13, 1793;" "A Record of the returns made in writing and delivered to me. . . ;" "List of the Slaves Owned by persons within the County of Lancaster," Pennsylvania Septennial Census Returns, 1779-1863, roll no. 3, “Franklin County 1828 - Lancaster County 1800,” reel no. 0244, Microfilm, Pennsylvania State Archives; Lancaster Journal, 20 June 1806. Nathaniel Nixon was fifteen when he left the town home of Jonathan Jones, where he was kept as a hostler. Born in Lancaster, he had been sold at least twice before ending up in Manheim. Upon the death of her master, his mother had been sold to a Philadelphia slaveholder.


Caution: Copyrighted material. Published September 2010.

© 2010 George F. Nagle



This is the first in a series of books from the Afrolumens Project. Drawing on a large number of sources, and making good use of the treasure trove of information on the pages of the Afrolumens Project, this is the first truly comprehensive history of Harrisburg's African American community.

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