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‘Now Free’
Impersonating James Mac Daniel

The charges below suggest that Alexander nelson snot only escaped from Edumnd Tanner, but stole the indentures of the now free James Mac Daniel, and indication that James, once freed, had few options other then selling himself back to his master of gaining wage labor from that same man, as freed servants had nothing but the clothes on their back in most cases, with only their indentures preventing them from being captured and sold by a goaler. In that case, with positive identification difficult, staying with the man who can ascertain that you are indeed free, would have its advantages.


RUN away Mar. 14. from Edmund Farrel, Tanner, a Servant Man named Alexander Nelson, an Irishman, aged about 24 Years, of middle Stature.

He has a black Wig, a lead colour Camlet Coat, a black Drugget Jacket, Buckskin Breeches, fine Hat, grey worsted Stockings, new Shoes; gas also taken with him a Quantity of Paper Money, and some Silver, and also the old Indentures of one James Mac Daniel, now free, and the Pass [1] of the said Mac Daniel out of Maryland, and probably may use his Name.

Whoever secures the said Servant so that he may be had again, shall have Three Pounds Reward, and reasonable Charges paid, by Edmund Farrel.


1. Note that signed and countersigned indentures were not enough to prove one’s freedom. To leave a colony one must have a pass indicating that he was free to go beyond its boundaries.

America in Chains

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