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‘MADE His Escape’
A Servant Sailor Makes a Break for Freedom

May 24, 1764

The Pennsylvania Gazette

MADE his Escape from on board Richard Townshend Shallop, [1] in the Night between the 16th and 17th instant May, an Irish Servant Man, named Christopher Burns, about 18 Years of Age, about 5 Feet 5 Inches high, of a pretty fair Complexion, smooth Face, and speaks pretty good English:

Had on an old Cloth coloured Coat, Check Shirt, Leather Breeches, half worn Shoes and Stockings, and an old Hat. He is just arrived from Ireland, being purchased [2] from on board the last Vessel from thence.

Whoever takes up and secures him, so that his Master may have him again, shall have Thirty Shillings Reward, and reasonable Charges, paid by AARON LEAMING, [3] at Cape May, or by ROBERT BOYD, Hatter, in Front street, Philadelphia.


1. A shallop was a a heavy, shallow draft sail boat used to serve a mother ship as a tender, Shuttling goods between ship and land. Similar in use to a pinace. Shallops were often used to escape by trios of men.

2. The owners of human property clearly stated, more often, as the years wore on, that these people had been bought and were owned. This reader senses a heightened anxiety after the French and Indian War over the possibility of escape for their servants, as well they should, for the British victory in that war opened up the frontier all the way to the Continental Divide, effectively tripling homestead acreage. Also, with the bulk of the Delaware nation having turned on the English, these warriors were no longer available as slave catchers. As for the enemy nations such as the Shawnee, they were keen to adopt escaped whites to replenish their losses. When the term escape is used, rather than runaway, there was and is an explicit admission by the subscriber that this person was being held against his will.

3. Jews were prominent I the slave trade from 1600 through the 1860s, when some even insisted on carrying on the trade after Ulysses S. Grant banned the sale of people in Tennessee. Indeed, the vice president of the confederacy and other officials of that nation were Jews, who would no doubt be scandalized by the American Civil Liberties Unions and Southern Poverty Law center. Despite the claims of many Christians to the contrary, slavery was explicitly sanction in the Book of Leviticus in the Old Testament, so these men did act with the sanction of God as they understood it.

Books by James LaFond

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