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Ned and Frank
Two Yellow Negroes of Virginia

Although ads for the more valuable escaped blacks do not appear as early as those for whites, it is found desirable by this researcher to include listings of Negro runaways for context and contrast. Below you will see blatant labeling of Asians, possibly Chinese, as well as mixed-race people as Negro. The problems with runaway blacks were never, per bondmen, as high as those for whites or as successful. One of the means by which whites found freedom was to enter a rural community of whites—a practice so hated by the elite that their descendents in Hollywood, Manhattan and Washington D.C. continue to label rural whites as enemies of the State. If white slaves were to be replaced with Negro then broadening the definition of Negro would hopefully prevent a mixed-race block forming as it would in French San Domingo, providing a political safe haven for the largely mongrelized second and third generation African slaves.

Note, below, the case of Henry Cooke, who had to sell himself in order to afford medical treatment. In this way, a plantation economy so retards economic development that a ready source of unfree labor will always be available as the impoverished wage laborer finds himself unable to compete with the slave owners and sells himself for varying periods. Also, with the criminalization of debt, poverty and homelessness any economic downturn could fill the local gaols with debtors for sale.

Virginia Gazette (Purdie & Dixon), Williamsburg, April 19, 1770

L. 20 Reward. RUN away from the subscriber, on Monday night the 9th instant, three Negro men, two of them slaves, [1]viz.

NED, about 5 feet 8 inches high, 21 years of age, of a yellow complexion, a likely well made fellow, his usual clothing an osnabrug shirt, dark gray fearnought waistcoat, [2] cotton breeches, coarse yarn stockings, bad shoes, and a felt hat. He also took other clothes, but what not yet known.

[Ned is a mixed-race person, not a Negro, being yellow, he may well be Asian.]

FRANK, a foreign Negro, a very good cook, says he was born in the Spanish West Indies, speaks bad English, as also French, Spanish, and some Dutch, near the same height of Ned, about 30 years of age, of a yellow complexion, with little or no beard, and has several remarkable wounds on his body,[3] and a large one near his throat, he is clothed in blue plains, osnabrug shirt, and felt hat, as also a pair of red flannel muffs, and a red cap.

[Frank is also not a Negro, but a mixed-race person, either a Mulatto, quadroon, Octoroon or possibly Chinese, as numerous Chinamen were trafficked to Maryland and Virginia and the West Indies throughout the 1700s. Some enslaved Chinese in Maryland won their freedom in court.]

HENRY COOKE, a free Negro, born in Gloucester county, but indented himself for five years for the cure of a pox, about 5 feet 10 or 11 inches high, about 24 years of age, lusty and very well made, of a good black complexion, and thick lips; his clothing mean, being an old brown cloth waistcoat and breeches much patched with green cloth, osnabrug shirt, yarn stockings, very bad shoes, though he took leather with him ready cut out for another pair. He understands a little of the carpenter business, and has likewise followed the water.

It is thought they took with them a Negro fellow belonging to the estate of the late Major William Tate, middle aged, about 5 feet 6 inches high, well set, bow legged, of a dark copper complexion, an old offender in this way, and a few years past advertised in the Maryland and Pennsylvania Gazettes by William Tate, deceased, by virtue of which he was taken up near the head of the bay, within a few miles of the Pennsylvania government.

[This Negro fellow is also not a Negro, but a mixed race person, probably Mulatto or half-breed Indian.]

They took with them a yawl [4] of about 18 feet keel, London clinch work painted white to her gunwales, two good sails, rudder, and two new pine oars. The 20 l. [5] reward, [6] or 5 l. for each, will be paid if taken in any other colony, [7] but if taken in Virginia only 12 l. or 3 l. for each. WILLIAM FLOOD. WESTMORELAND, April 12, 1770.


1. Note that negro and slave are not necessarily synonymous

2. Fearnought was made of a heavy, mixed wool fabric and would be serviceable for some naval duties.

3. These remarkable injuries, to merit this term must have been deforming or grossly obvious.

4. A yawl is a speedy, shallow-draft boat with a lot of canvas, well-suited for cruising shallow waterways such as the Chesapeake Bay.

5. L and l are used to indicate the pound symbol

6. Note that the price is considerably higher for these negroes than for Irish, as three of them are owned outright. They have already left Virginia by boat, so the higher price will be due to their catcher. Note that Tate is the property of a dead man’s estate, probably being held for auction.

7. Note that the term colony is used in Virginia, as it is in New England, where in Pennsylvania and Maryland it was more common to see the term province used to indicate the imperial administrative unit.

Stillbirth of a Nation: Caucasian Slavery in Plantation America: Part One

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