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The Slave Media, 1805
Another Fleeing Newspaper Apprentice

Mirror of the Times and General Advertiser – Wilmington, Delaware, June 1, 1805

Benjamin Franklin, foremost printer of his era, had once fled from his brother’s newspaper shop and started up his own, where he eagerly placed advertisement for runaways and even paid out reward money for their return as a slave catching agent.

Samuel Rea

TEN DOLLARS REWARD. Ran away on Sunday morning last the 26th inst. An apprentice to the printing business, named SAMUEL REA, nineteen years of age in October next. One of his eyes has been hurt, the effect of which is still visible. [1] His cloathing are a nankeen coatee and trowsers, a short round striped, or cross bared jacket and trousers of home made plaid, a new hat, and shoes nearly new.

Whoever will return him, or secure him in jail so that I get him, shall have the above reward, and reasonable expences paid if brought home. [2]

It is hoped and requested that no printer will give employment to said apprentice. Masters of vessels, and others, are warned not to harbor, employ, or carry him off, under penalty of the law.

Printers or newspapers in the U. States are requested to insert this notice as often as convenient, and command a similar favor when necessary. [3]


Wilmington, Del. 29 May, 1805.


1. It was within the rights of a master of an apprentice to beat him during this era, so there was no need to be squeamish about reporting injuries.

2. The high reward is apparently coupled with [see 3] an expectation that such notices will be printed for free, in return for the printer who owns Samuel offering to do the same.

3. This indicates that a certain number of runaway apprentices and servants are expected in the print business. I worked in a print shop in 1979 and wonder if these men could be running away due to boredom, or due to the type of severe beating that Benjamin Franklin’s printer-brother inflicted on him 75 years earlier. Also, could the fact that newspapers had been central to slave catching over the previous century have something to do with their use of un-free staff?

[Submitted to by Mary Kay Krogman]

So Her Master May Have Her Again

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

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