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‘A Mulatto Lad’
Worth Fifty White Men!

Nov 7. [The National Advocate, Friday, November 08, 1816]

$20 Reward

Ran away from the subscriber, residing in the town of Montgomery, Orange county, state of New York;

a mulatto lad, about 17 or 18 years of age, by the name of JACOB, but commonly called JAKE; he is about 5 feet 8 inches high;

had on a deep blue cloth coat and pantaloons, striped cotton jacket, he has two pair of shoes, a fine and a course pair, a fur hat, a brown great coat, with a large cape, he is a talkative fellow, brought up to farming;

it is likely he will endeavour to pass himself as free. [1]

A reward of Twenty Dollars will be paid [2] to any person apprehending said runaway, and returning him to the subscriber or confining him in any prison. Charles Newkirk.


1. This very valuable young man, with decades of backbreaking work ahead of him, is a slave, even though he is half white. Furthermore, the suspicion that Jake will pass himself off as free indicates that a sizable population of free mulatto’s were to be found in New York of 1816.

2. Rewards for runaway whites of this period, who would work for 3-7 years instead of 20-30 years, were around 10 cents. The huge disparity in value per years left to serve, at 1-2 cents per year for whites to 50 cents to a dollar a year for blacks, is difficult to fathom, unless blacks were so much more highly valued due to the fact that they could be bred to produce more free labor, even bred with a white girl.

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