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‘Two Irish Servant Lads’
Moses Irving and George McCullough Want their White Slave Boys Back

July 31, 1766

The Pennsylvania Gazette

RUN away from the subscribers, living in Drummore township, Lancaster county, on the 24th of this instant July, two Irish servant lads;

the one named John Riley, about 22 years of age, about 5 feet 9 inches high, a broad well set fellow, wears his own brown hair, which curls a little, and speaks with the brogue;

had on, when he went away, a blackish mixed home made cloth coat and jacket, felt hat, coarse shirt and trowsers, white ribbed yarn stockings, and good channel pumps.

The other named Philip Meganaty, about 17 years of age, a slim thin visaged lad, about 5 feet 5 or 6 inches high, wear his own hair, which is brown, straight, and commonly tyed, and speaks a little with the brogue;

had on, when he went away, a drab coloured coat and jacket, bound with worsted tape of the same colour, but not lined, a felt hat, check shirt, blue breeches, white ribbed yarn stockings, good channel pumps, and took with him a pair of check trowsers.

They both came from the north of Ireland this summer.

Whoever takes up and secures said Servants, so as their masters may have them again, shall have Four Pounds reward, or Forty shillings for either, and reasonable charges, paid by MOSES IRVING, [1] or GEORGE McCULLOUGH


1. A peculiar aspect of escaped white slave ads is the fact that a high proportion of their owners seem to have Old Testament names. Since English Protestants in America were so keen on being as Jewish as possible, it is difficult to know whether these were Jewish or gentile slave owners. An adherence to the biblical code of Leviticus, which promotes and sanctifies enslavement for life of people outside of God’s Chosen People, was a strong aspect of slave master morality in plantation America, with Methodist and Anglican parishes, holding particularly harsh, Old Testament views on chattel. The 49 year Jubilee cycle, while looked upon by American Christian slaves as a possible source of manumission, was not in force, even among ancient Jewry, after the separation of the tribes—at which point the Jubilee manumissions were null and void—in ancient times. It should be noted that Quaker and Jewish slave owners were regarded by most runaways as less cruel than most owners.

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

Add Comment
KoanicJuly 11, 2017 7:47 PM UTC

No, you're right and I'm wrong. Non-Israelite slaves were permanent chattel. In a modern context, that would be narrowed to non-Christian slaves.

So the Plantations practice of white slavery was still highly un-Biblical.

In particular, Deuteronomy 23:15 forbids returning runaway slaves, which powerfully mitigates the worst abuses of the institution.
KoanicJuly 11, 2017 3:29 PM UTC

"An adherence to the biblical code of Leviticus, which promotes and sanctifies enslavement for life of people outside of God’s Chosen People"

I know the Bible quite well, and do not believe that is in there.

Servants are set free at the 7 year jubilee. There are lots of limits on maltreatment. Permanent enslavement is voluntary. I don't recall whether the 50 year jubilee frees the perma-slaves.

There was one enslaved Canaanite tribe, but that wasn't God's idea. They were supposed to be genocided, but by guileful surrender they bargained it down to being Levite menials. That's not slavery, it's more like a low-status caste. They weren't broken up into property, just given a collective role.

If you've got the verses to prove otherwise, I'll be interested to read them!
responds:July 11, 2017 10:11 PM UTC

I'll go through it again. But it seemed pretty clear that the outsiders can be held for life and passed down until the. I'll do a post just on this.