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The 30 Dollar Man
Comparing White and Negro Slave Prices

Mirror of the Times and General Advertiser – Wilmington, Delaware, Saturday, May 16, 1801

Adam Right


Ran away from the Subscriber, living near Middletown, New-Castle County, in the State of Delaware, on the 17th of April last, a negro man, ADAM, and has surnamed himself Right. About 34 years of age, and about 5 feet 4 or 5 inches high, is well set, middling black, thin and moves lively, altho’ very large feet for his size.

Had on when he went away, a tow linen shirt, much worn, a surtout, a round jacket, and trowsers, all of these made drab colored cloth, better than half worn; he had a dress suit, a blue broad-cloth coat, a vest and breeches of black velvet, he may have other clothing unknown to me. He has a great turn to the Methodist religion, and makes a very good prayer. [2]

He took with him his wife named RACHEL, a fat woman, somewhat on the yeallowish cast; [3]

also three children, the oldest a girl named SARAH, about eight years old, the second a girl also, named ELIZA, about three years old, and the third a boy named JOHN, about 4 months old. [4]

He took them from a widow Price, near Fredericktown, Cecil County, Maryland. [5]

Their clothing is unknown to me. It is expected they are gone up the Country some where, either Wilmington, the Turk’s Head, Philadelphia, the Jerseys or perhaps New-York; but they are so remarkable that they must be easy taken notice of.

Whoever secures them in any jail so that the owners shall ge[t] them again, shall receive the above reward, and all reasonable charges if brought home, or one half for the man only, paid by me, JOHN COCHRAN.

May 8th, 1801.


1. This man has put on over half of his life’s value in work. If he were as young as the 18-21 year old whites that were being sought for 2-10 dollars apiece during this period, he would be valued at $60. Negro prices during this period ran from $30 to $100. Why, were they really supermen, or were there better reasons to own a man of that race? These reasons are obvious and implicit in the advertisement. At 34, Adam was an old man for his era.

2. Adam is regarded as a good Christian and that gets him no succor.

3. Adam’s wife is obviously mixed race, with her complexion indicating she is half white rather than a “high yellow” quadroon or octoroon.

4. Adam has three children with his mixed race wife. Now, imagine if you will, buying a black pickup truck that, if you parked it next to your neighbors yellow pickup truck would produce three brown pickups which could be used and/or sold. This was the value of the black slave over the white slave, ever since the 17th century laws which tied his condition to his parent’s race. He could be bred, eliminating virtually all labor costs and shipping uncertainties that complicated the white slave trade and the trans-Atlantic black slave trade, when you might buy a man who was an embittered prisoner of war from some terrible conflict and got o sleep at night while he sharpened his tools in the barn…

5. Adam, a Christian man, separated from his family, escaped from his master in Middleton Delaware and stole his wife and children from their owner, the Widow Price, without doing the widow any harm. For those who view the current astonishing levels of black male child abandonment [75-80%] and levels of interracial, cross-gender violence [13,000 to 7 in 2013] on their race and a reversion to type, let us consider Adam, a blacker man than most postmodern African Americans, with more African DNA, and with a true reason to be hateful, and be reminded that he gathered his family and ran. We might also want to consider the reason why Negroes were preferred slaves over whites, why whites paid four times the price for blacks whenever they could, because they were reportedly more docile, less violent and less likely to runaway than their savage Irish and English-convict counterparts.

America in Chains

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