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'Both Apt to Be Drunk'
A Portrait of two Day Laborers from Plantation America

July 14, 1768

The Pennsylvania Gazette


ESCAPED from the Constables, some Weeks ago, the following Persons, viz.

ANDREW CRAWFORD, late from Ireland, about 25 Years old, 5 Feet 11 Inches high, stoop shouldered, Pock pitted, pale faced, has black Hair, tied behind, his Cloathing uncertain,

ROBERT SCOTT, 24 Years old, 5 Feet 9 Inches high, full faced, Pock pitted, has light brown Hair.

Both apt to be drunk, and to swear, generally work together, and commonly reside in London Britain Township, near Newark; but now are supposed to be gone to Maryland, to Harvest.

Whoever secures the said Fellows, and delivers them to Mr. JOSEPH THOMAS, Goal Keeper, of Chester County, in Pennsylvania, shall have the above Reward, or Six Pounds for Crawford, and Four for Scott.


It is anyone's guess what these two did, but they did it together. They are two big, strong men, the kind of men who would make a shilling a day competing with slave owners for the farmers who rented, rather than bought there help, and also likely worked alongside unfree slaves doing the same thing. There is no indication that Crawford and Scott had ever been slaves. However, they represent the future threat of wage work to the institution of chattel slavery and may have been physical enough—both specimens of the age—to out work the typical slave, who was malnourished and about 5' 6".

Also note, that they travelled together, as men without documents must do to protect themselves from abduction and sale. According to the ad, these men had been travelling through Chester County when arrested, telling the Goal Keeper that they were headed to Maryland for the harvest. Perhaps they did not have travelling papers, a crime even if they were free laborers? Odds are, they got drunk and had a fight against some local boys and got arrested.

Overall, these fellows and their conduct give the reader an idea of one kind of people a runaway slave might encounter on the road.

So Her Master May Have Her Again

A History of Runaway White Slaves in Plantation America: Part Two

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