Monday, September 30, 2013

Newspaper - Runaway Slaves - Carders, Spinners, Weavers, & Knitters


Virginia Gazette (Hunter), Williamsburg, November 7, 1754.
RAN away...a Mulatto Wench, named Molly, about 26 Years of Age, of a middle Stature, long Visage, and freckled, has a drawling Speech, a down Look, and has been chiefly brought up to Carding and Spinning.

Virginia Gazette (Dixon & Hunter),Williamsburg, March 11, 1775.
RUN away... a very bright Mulatto Man named STEPHEN, 5 Feet 6 or 7 Inches high, about 22 Years of Age...His Wife PHEBE went away with him, a remarkable white Indian Woman, about the same Age, and was with Child; she has long black Hair, which is generally clubbed, and carried off with her a blue Negro Cotton Waistcoat and Petticoat, a Virginia Cloth Waistcoat and Petticoat, and a Virginia Cloth Bonnet. She can spin well...

Virginia Gazette or American Advertiser (Hayes), Richmond, February 2, 1782.
A black fellow by the name of PETER, frequently called PETER WOOD, about 37 or 38 years of age, 5 feet 8 or 9 inches high, has a smiling countenance...Also a very likely black girl, wife to the above fellow and taken off by him, about 18 or 19 years old, middle size, by the name of AMIA...She is a fine spinner and Weaver, has never had a child, and I am informed has holes in her ears for rings.Virginia Gazette or Weekly Advertiser (Nicolson & Prentis), Richmond, May 11, 1782.
VIOLET, went off about eight weeks ago, and is now harboured in Williamsburg, about twenty two years old, very likely, genteel made, and knits very well.

Virginia Gazette and Weekly Advertiser
(Nicolson & Prentis), Richmond, November 22, 1783.
RUN away...a negro girl named PHILLIS, but for some time passed by the name BETTY. She is about sixteen years of age, an excellent spinner, and very likely...She has for some time been harboured about Rocket's, and is very intimate and supposed lives with one Free Harry.

Virginia Gazette or American Advertiser (Hayes), Richmond, October 16, 1784.
RAN AWAY...a likely Mulatto woman named CHARITY, who carried with her three children, two boys and a girl...She is a likely wench, has an uncommon good voice, is a good house servant, and can spin and knit very well.

Virginia Gazette or American Advertiser (Hayes), Richmond, December 31, 1785 negro woman TABB. She is of a middle stature, rather of a yellowish cast, and thin visage, straight made, walks and talks quick...When she went off, she was clothed as Negroes generally are, which she will certainly change, being very fond of dress, and looks tolerable genteel. She is remarkable handy and industrious, can card and spin cotton and wool, equal in quantity and quality with any woman in the State; a tolerable good weaver, which she followed when she runaway before, and changed her name to Nancy Jones.

Virginia Gazette and Weekly Advertiser (Nicolson), Richmond, April 17, 1788.
RUN away...a stout well made Virginia born negro woman, named DINAH, but has changed her name to NANCY, her complexion is rather of the tawny kind, she has a scar on her forehead, and keeps her eyes rather closed when speaking, she chews tobacco, and smoaks...She last hired herself to Mrs. Jones, at Spring Garden, in Hanover, for a spinner and weaver, and had one of the house servants for her husband...

Virginia Gazette and General Advertiser (Davis), Richmond, January 18, 1792.
Run away...a likely negro woman, named URSULA, of a yellowish complexion, with some black moles on her face, 30 years of age, 5 feet three or 4 inches high, had on, when she went away, such cloathing as negroes generally wear in the summer, and carried with her a white linen coat and jacket. She is a vile creature, and for her many crimes I punsihed her with an iron collar, but supposed she soon got that off. She is very artful, has a smooth tongue, and is a good weaver, and as she has for some time imposed on the Baptist church by her pretensions to religion, she may probably attempt to pass for a free woman, and do the same again.

About slave Jenny, the good spinster...

Robert Carter, Letter to Clement Brooke of the Baltimore Iron Works. 11 November 1776.
Description: Item is a letter and an invoice. Of interest is reference made to Jenny. The "Negroe Woman" is on board the sloop Atwell along with a host of other goods. The abstract below is from notations in the invoice and letter.

220 bushels of Indian Corn and one Negroe Woman named Jenny are no on board the Sloop Atwell the cargo mentioned abov to be delivered to you for the use of the Baltimoe [sic] Comp[any]--Pray send me a Copy of the Proceedings of the B-C[ompany] when they resolve that there Shall be an Addition of five negroe Women, to their Stock--
It is customary for me to engage my Negroes from new years day to the 31st of December following--however Geo. Wilkerson, Wool Comber, has relinquished Jenny, who is a good Spinster--Jenny is young & Stout, She has fits, accasionally, [sic] I say Accasionally, becuase her fits never happen but upon her being reprimanded for neglects; nor do those Fits leave behind any visible Effects If Jenny Should prove not to be sound, I will at a future date Send a negroe woman in her Stead--...

 From the Robert Carter Papers (Vol. III). (Virginia) Special Collections Library, Duke University.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The role of slaves in the 18th & 19th century American economy

African peoples were captured & transported to the Western Hemisphere to work.  Most European colonial economies in the Americas from the 16th - 19th century were dependent on enslaved African labor for their survival.  The rationale of European colonial officials was that the abundant land they had "discovered" in the Americas was useless without sufficient labor to exploit it.  Only some 450,000 of the nearly 10 million Africans who survived the Middle Passage across the Atlantic to the Americas during the transatlantic slave trade settled in the continental United States. Nevertheless, these 450,000 had grown to more than 4 million people of African descent by 1860, the dawn of the Civil War.

South Carolina

Slavery was not limited to the Western Hemisphere.  The trans-Saharan slave trade had long supplied enslaved African labor to work on sugar plantations in the Mediterranean alongside white slaves from Russia & the Balkans. This same trade also sent as many as 10,000 slaves a year to serve owners in North Africa, the Middle East, & the Iberian Peninsula.

Cartouche Shipping Hogsheads of Tobacco from Frye-Jefferson map of Virginia, 1755

Of the millions of immigrants who survived the crossing of the Atlantic & settled in the Western Hemisphere between 1492 -1776, only about 1 million were Europeans. The remaining were African. An average of 80 % of these enslaved Africans—men, women, & children—were employed, mostly as field-workers. Women as well as children worked in some capacity.

More than half of the enslaved African captives in the Americas were employed on sugar plantations. Sugar developed into the leading slave-produced commodity in the Americas.  During the 16th & 17th centuries, Brazil dominated the production of sugarcane. One of the earliest large-scale manufacturing industries was established to convert the juice from the sugarcane into sugar, molasses, & eventually rum, the alcoholic beverage of choice of the triangular trade.  The profits made from the sale of these goods in Europe, as well as the trade in these commodities in Africa, were used to purchase more slaves.

Tobacco Advertisement Card, Newman’s Best Virginia, 1700s

By 1750, both free & enslaved black people in the British American colonies, despite the hardships of their lives, manifested a deepening attachment to America. The majority of blacks by now had been born in America, rather than in Africa. While a collective cultural memory of Africa was maintained, personal & direct memories had waned. Slave parents began to give their children biblical rather than African names. 

Tobacco Label, Ford’s Virginia

During the British American colonial period in the United States, tobacco was the dominant slave-produced commodity.  During the colonial era, 61% of all American slaves -- nearly 145,000 -- lived in Virginia & Maryland, working the tobacco fields in small to medium-sized gangs. Planters who owned hundreds of slaves often divided them among several plantations. In the North & the Upper South, masters & bondpeople lived close to each other.  Rice & indigo plantations in South Carolina also employed enslaved African labor.  The South Carolina & Georgia coastal rice belt had a slave population of 40,000. Because rice requires precise irrigation & a large, coordinated labor force, enslaved people lived & worked in larger groups. Plantation owners lived in towns like Charleston or Savannah & employed white overseers to manage their far-flung estates. Overseers assigned a task in the morning, & slaves tended to their own needs, when the assigned work was completed. The region was atypical, because of its more flexible work schedules and more isolated and independent slave culture.

Indigo Production South Carolina. William DeBrahm, A Map of South Carolina and a Part of Georgia  London, published by Thomas Jeffreys, 1757.

Exhausted land caused a decline in tobacco production, & the American Revolution cost Virginia & Maryland their principal European tobacco markets, & for a brief period of time after the Revolution. The future of slavery in the United States was in jeopardy. Most of the northern states abolished it, & even Virginia debated abolition in the Virginia Assembly.

Slave Auction. New York Illustrated News; January 26, 1861

The invention of the cotton gin in 1793, gave slavery a new life in the United States. Between 1800 -  1860, slave-produced cotton expanded from South Carolina & Georgia to newly colonized lands west of the Mississippi. This shift of the slave economy from the upper South (Virginia & Maryland) to the lower South was accompanied by a comparable shift of the enslaved African population to the lower South & West.

Hauling Cotton US South. Harper's New Monthly Magazine (1853-54)

After the abolition of the slave trade in 1808, the principal source of the expansion of slavery into the lower South was the domestic slave trade from the upper South.  By 1850, 1.8 million of the 2.5 million enslaved Africans employed in agriculture in the United States were working on cotton plantations.

Picking Cotton. Ballou's Pictorial (Boston, Jan. 23, 1858)

The vast majority of enslaved Africans employed in plantation agriculture were field hands. Some coastal owners used slaves as fishermen.  Even on plantations, however, they worked in many other capacities. Some were domestics & worked as butlers, waiters, maids, seamstresses, & launderers. Others were assigned as carriage drivers, hostlers, & stable boys. Artisans—carpenters, stonemasons, blacksmiths, millers, coopers, spinners, & weavers—were also employed as part of plantation labor forces.

Slave Auction. The Illustrated London News; February 16, 1861

Enslaved Africans also worked in urban areas. Upward of 10% of the enslaved African population in the United States lived in cities. Charleston, Richmond, Savannah, Mobile, New York, Philadelphia, & New Orleans all had sizable slave populations. In the southern cities, they totaled approximately a third of the population.

Edwin Forbes (1839-1895) Stacking Wheat in Culpepper, Virginia 1863

The range of slave occupations in cities was vast. Domestic servants dominated, but there were carpenters, fishermen, coopers, draymen, sailors, masons, bricklayers, blacksmiths, bakers, tailors, peddlers, painters, & porters. Although most worked directly for their owners, others were hired out to work as skilled laborers on plantations, on public works projects, & in industrial enterprises. A small percentage hired themselves out & paid their owners a percentage of their earnings.

Picking Cotton US South Harper's New Monthly Magazine (1853-54)

Each plantation economy was part of a larger national & international political economy. The cotton plantation economy, for instance, is generally seen as part of the regional economy of the American South. By the 1830s, "cotton was king" indeed in the South. It was also king in the United States, which was competing for economic leadership in the global political economy. Plantation-grown cotton was the foundation of the antebellum southern economy.

 Ginning Cotton US South Harper's New Monthly Magazine (1853-54)

The American financial & shipping industries were also dependent on slave-produced cotton, as was the British textile industry. Cotton was not shipped directly to Europe from the South. Rather, it was shipped to New York & then transshipped to England & other centers of cotton manufacturing in the United States & Europe.  As the cotton plantation economy expanded throughout the southern region, banks & financial houses in New York supplied the loan capital &/or investment capital to purchase land & slaves.

Harvesting Sugar Cane, Louisiana Harper's New Monthly Magazine (1853)

As an inexpensive source of labor, enslaved Africans in the United States also became important economic & political capital in the American political economy. Enslaved Africans were legally a form of property—a commodity. Individually & collectively, they were frequently used as collateral in all kinds of business transactions. They were also traded for other kinds of goods & services.

Slave Market. Harper's Weekly, January 24, 1863

The value of the investments slaveholders held in their slaves was often used to secure loans to purchase additional land or slaves. Slaves were also used to pay off outstanding debts. When calculating the value of estates, the estimated value of each slave was included. This became the source of tax revenue for local & state governments. Taxes were also levied on slave transactions.

Planting Rice US South. Harper's Monthly Magazine (1859)

Politically, the U.S. Constitution incorporated a feature that made enslaved Africans political capital—to the benefit of southern states. The so-called three-fifths compromise allowed the southern states to count their slaves as three-fifths of a person for purposes of calculating states' representation in the U.S. Congress. Thus the balance of power between slaveholding & non-slaveholding states turned, in part, on the three-fifths presence of enslaved Africans in the census.  Slaveholders were taxed on the same three-fifths principle, & no taxes paid on slaves supported the national treasury. In sum, the slavery system in the United States was a national system that touched the very core of its economic & political life.


Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.  

Jubilee: The Emergence of African-American Culture, ed. Howard Dodson. Washington, D.C.: The National Geographic Society.  2003., compiled by Jerome Handler and Michael Tuite, and sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Benjamin Franklin's 1745 Advice on chosing a partner "Prefer old Women to young ones"

Robert Feke (American artist, 1707-1752) Young Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) c. 1746

June 25, 1745

My dear Friend,

I know of no Medicine fit to diminish the violent natural Inclinations you mention; and if I did, I think I should not communicate it to you. Marriage is the proper Remedy. It is the most natural State of Man, and therefore the State in which you are most likely to find solid Happiness. Your Reasons against entering into it at present, appear to me not well-founded. The circumstantial Advantages you have in View by postponing it, are not only uncertain, but they are small in comparison with that of the Thing itself, the being married and settled. It is the Man and Woman united that make the compleat human Being. Separate, she wants his Force of Body and Strength of Reason; he, her Softness, Sensibility and acute Discernment. Together they are more likely to succeed in the World. A single Man has not nearly the Value he would have in that State of Union. He is an incomplete Animal. He resembles the odd Half of a Pair of Scissars. If you get a prudent healthy Wife, your Industry in your Profession, with her good Economy, will be a Fortune sufficient.

But if you will not take this Counsel, and persist in thinking a Commerce with the Sex inevitable, then I repeat my former Advice, that in all your Amours you should prefer old Women to young ones. You call this a Paradox, and demand my Reasons. They are these:

i. Because as they have more Knowledge of the World and their Minds are better stor'd with Observations, their Conversation is more improving and more lastingly agreable.

2. Because when Women cease to be handsome, they study to be good. To maintain their Influence over Men, they supply the Diminution of Beauty by an Augmentation of Utility. They learn to do a 1000 Services small and great, and are the most tender and useful of all Friends when you are sick. Thus they continue amiable. And hence there is hardly such a thing to be found as an old Woman who is not a good Woman.

3. Because there is no hazard of Children, which irregularly produc'd may be attended with much Inconvenience.

4. Because thro' more Experience, they are more prudent and discreet in conducting an Intrigue to prevent Suspicion. The Commerce with them is therefore safer with regard to your Reputation. And with regard to theirs, if the Affair should happen to be known, considerate People might be rather inclin'd to excuse an old Woman who would kindly take care of a young Man, form his Manners by her good Counsels, and prevent his ruining his Health and Fortune among mercenary Prostitutes.

5. Because in every Animal that walks upright, the Deficiency of the Fluids that fill the Muscles appears first in the highest Part: The Face first grows lank and wrinkled; then the Neck; then the Breast and Arms; the lower Parts continuing to the last as plump as ever: So that covering all above with a Basket, and regarding2 only what is below the Girdle, it is impossible of two Women to know an old from a young one. And as in the dark all Cats are grey, the Pleasure of corporal Enjoyment with an old Woman is at least equal, and frequently superior, every Knack being by Practice capable of Improvement.

6. Because the Sin is less. The debauching a Virgin may be her Ruin, and make her for Life unhappy.

7. Because the Compunction is less. The having made a young Girl miserable may give you frequent bitter Reflections; none of which can attend the making an old Woman happy.

8thly and Lastly They are so grateful!!

Thus much for my Paradox. But still I advise you to marry directly; being sincerely Your affectionate Friend..

Marrying in 1750 Pennsylvania & a glimpse at unmarried persons "merry-making"

From Gottlieb Mittelberger's Journey to Pennsylvania in the Year 1750 and Return to Germany in the Year 1754 (Philadelphia, 1898).

Gottlieb Mittelberger traveled to Pennsylvania from Germany in 1750, on a ship primarily filled with poorer immigrants who would become indentured servants upon arriving in Philadelphia. Mittelberger was not a servant, and worked as a school master and organist for 3 years before returning to Germany in 1754.

If a man in Pennsylvania is betrothed to a woman, and does not care to be married by an ordained preacher, he may be married by any Justice, wherever he will, without having the banns published, on payment of 6 florins. It is a very common custom among the newly married, when the priest has blessed them, to kiss each other in presence of the whole church assemblage, or wherever the marriage ceremony takes place. Again, when a couple have been published from the pulpit, even if this has done for the second or third time, they are still at liberty to give each other up without the least cost. Even when such a couple have come to the church with their wedding guests, nay, when they already stand before the altar, and one party repents the engagement, he or she may yet walk away. This has frequently been done; but it occurs oftener that a bride leaves her bridegroom together with the wedding guests in the church, which causes a cruel laughter among said wedding guests; these may then freely partake of the meal that has been prepared.

If a couple in this province want to marry each other, and the parents and relatives on one or both sides will not permit it, especially when a woman will not renounce her lover, they ride off and away together on one horse. And because women have greater privileges than men, the man must sit on the horse behind his beloved. In this position they ride to a justice, and say they had stolen each other, and request him to marry them for their money. When this is done, no one, neither parents nor friends, can afterward separate them. . . .

If any one has lost a wife or husband in Germany, and if such loss was not caused by the death of either of them, he or she can find such lost treasure, if the same be still alive, in America, for Pennsylvania is the gathering place of all runaways and good-for- nothings. Many women and men are there who have deserted their spouses and their children, and have married again, but in doing so have generally made a worse bargain than before. . . .

On the first and second days of the month of May there is general merry-making in Pennsylvania, in which the unmarried persons of both sexes chiefly take part. All amuse themselves with playing, dancing, shooting, hunting, and the like. Such unmarried persons as are born in the country adorn their heads with a piece of the fur of some wild animal, together with any painted animal they may choose. With these the young men walk about the city, crying, " Hurrah! Hurrah!" But no one may put such a token in his hat except those born in the country, and these are called Indians.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

1700s American Women with books

1730 John Smibert (American colonial era artist, 1688-1751) Sarah Middlecroft (Mrs Louis Boucher)

During the 18th-century, more and more women learned to read.  I am not sure that all of these women could actually read, but I suspect that they could.

1731 John Smibert (American colonial era artist, 1688-1751) Margaret Mitchell 1664-1736 Mrs Stephen Sewall

1737 Gansevoort Limner Possibly Pieter Vanderlyn (Colonial era American artist, 1687-1778) Young Lady With a Fan

1747 John Greenwood (Amerian colonial era artist, 1727-1792) The Greenwood-Lee Family

1748 Robert Feke (American colonial era artist, 1707-1751) Grizzell Eastwick (Mrs. Charles Apthorp)

1750 Joseph Badger (American colonial era artist, 1708-1765) Faith Savage Waldo

1750 Joseph Badger (American colonial era artist, 1708-1765) Mrs. William Foye Elizabeth Campbell

1752 John Wollaston (American colonial era artist, 1733-1767) Mrs Philip Livingston

1753 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763 Mary Lea (Mrs. John Harvey)

1757 John Singleton Copley (American colonial era artist, 1738-1815) Elizabeth Allen (Mrs William Stevens)

1758 John Singleton Copley (American colonial era artist, 1738-1815) Mary Alleyne Mrs James Otis

1758 Joseph Blackburn (American colonial era artist, fl 1753-1763) Mrs. Jonathan Simpson (Margaret Lechmere)

1764 John Singleton Copley (American colonial era artist, 1738-1815) Mrs. Samuel Hill, nee Miriam Kilby

1764 John Singleton Copley (American colonial era artist, 1738-1815) Mrs Anna Dummer Powell

1765 Jeremiah Theus (American colonial era artist, 1716-1774) Mary Cuthbert Mrs James Cuthbert

1765-67 John Wollaston (American colonial era artist, 1733-1767) Rebecca Bee Holmes Mrs Isaac Holmes

1766 John Singleton Copley (American colonial era artist, 1738-1815) Mrs. Nathaniel Ellery Ann Sargent

1770 Cosmo Alexander (American colonial era artist, 1724-1772) Margaret Stiles Manning

1770 Cosmo Alexander (American colonial era artist, 1724-1772) Martha Lathrop (Mrs. Ebenezer Devotion)

1770 John Singleton Copley (American colonial era artist, 1738-1815) Mrs James Russell (Katherine Graves)

1770 John Singleton Copley (American colonial era artist, 1738-1815) Relief Dowse (Mrs Michael Gill)

1770-75 Henry Benbridge (American colonial era artist, 1743-1812) Mrs Mary Cuthbert 1716-1794 Mary Hazzard wife of Dr James Cuthbert

1772 Cosmo Alexander (American colonial era artist, 1724-1772) Mary Jemima Balfour (Mrs James Balfour)

1773 Henry Benbridge (American colonial era artist, 1743-1812) Mrs Charles Coteworth Pinckney (Sarah Middleton)

1775 Charles Willson Peale (American artist, 1741-1827) Mrs James Smith with her grandson

1776 Charles Willson Peale (American artist, 1741-1827) Mrs James Latimer

1777-80 Charles Willson Peale (American artist, 1741-1827) Mrs Samuel Mifflin & granddau Rebecca Mifflin Francis

1779 Ralph Earl (American artist, 1751-1801) Mary Ann Carpenter Mrs Thompson Foster

1783 Charles Willson Peale (American artist, 1741-1827) The Artist's Mother, Mrs. Charles Peale, and Her Grandchildren

1784 Ralph Earl (American artist, 1751-1801) Anne Whiteside Earl the artist's 2nd wife

1785-90 Beardsley Limner possibly Sarah Bushnell Perkins (American artist, 1771-1831) Mrs Hezekiah Beardsley

1787 Charles Willson Peale (American artist, 1741-1827) Mary Chew (Mrs Thomas Elliott Chrysler)

1788 Charles Willson Peale (American artist, 1741-1827) Mrs Robert Gilmore with Jane and Elizabeth

1789 Christian Gullager (American artist, 1759-1826) Elizabeth Sewall Mrs Samuel Salisbury

1789 Christian Gullager (American artist, 1759-1826) Martha Saunders (Mrs Nicholas Salisbury)

1789 Christian Gullager (American artist, 1759-1826) Rebecca Salisbury Waldo (Mrs Daniel Waldo)

1790 Denison Limner probably Joseph Steward (American artist, 1753-1822) Elizabeth Denison

1790 Denison Limner probably Joseph Steward (American artist, 1753-1822) Mrs Elizabeth Noyes

1790s John Brewster (American artist, 1766-1854) Dr and Mrs Brewster

1791 Charles Willson Peale (American artist, 1741-1827) Mrs Francis Baily

1791 John Mackay or M'Kay (American artist, 1767-1807) Hannah Ackley Bush

1791 Ralph Earl (American artist, 1751-1801) Mrs John Watson

1792 Ralph Earl (American artist, 1751-1801) Mrs Joseph Wright

1794 James Earl (American artist, 1761-1796) Mrs. John Rogers (Elizabeth Rodman)

1794-96 James Earl (American artist, 1761-1796) Rebecca Pritchard and her daughter Eliza

1795 Joseph Steward (American artist, 1753-1822) Pamela Sedgwick 1753-1807

1796 Jonathan Budington 1766-1854 George Eliot and Family

1796 Ralph Earl (American artist, 1751-1801) Mrs Sherman Boardman (Sarah Bostwick)

1797 Christian Gullager (American artist, 1759-1826) Dorothy Lynde (Mrs Elijah Dix)

1797 Gilbert Stuart (American painter, 1755-1828) Ann Willing Bingham

1797 Gilbert Stuart (American painter, 1755-1828) Mary Willing Clymer

1799 Charles Peale Polk (American artist, 1767-1822) Margaret Baker Briscoe (Mrs. Gerard Briscoe)

1799 Charles Peale Polk (American artist, 1767-1822) Eleanor Conway Hite & James Madison Hite

1799 Joshua Johnson (American artist, 1763-1826) Mrs John Moale (Ellen North) & Ellin

1800 Charles Peale Polk (American artist, 1767-1822) Martha Selden Jones (Mrs. Churchill Jones) of Chatham, near Fredericksburg