Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Slavery and Servitude in Colonial America

One of the well-known paradoxes of the American Revolution was the fact that a movement purporting to view "all men created equally" actually enslaved about 20% of its population.  The above is just one example of many routine notices put in colonial newspapers for the return of lost "property."  It is taken from a 1765 edition of the Georgia Gazette, the only newspaper published in Georgia during the Revolutionary era.

However, what is not as well-known is that African slaves were not the only group of people considered "property."  Indentured servants and apprentices were also considered to be, at least temporarily, the property of the person in charge of them.  Most indentured servants came from the Netherlands, Germany, or Ireland.  Like the African slaves, if an indentured servant ran away, a notice would be in the newspaper offering a reward for their return.  Below is an example of a typical notice, also from the Georgia Gazette in 1765.