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December 15, 1768

The Pennsylvania Gazette

ABSCONDED from the constable of Plumsted township, Bucks county, a certain James Montgomery, a short, well set, smooth faced young man, about 5 feet 3 or 4 inches high, born in Ireland, is very talkative, has black curled hair, fond of singing and dancing, in both which is something of a proficient. It will be impossible to give an exact description of the cloaths he will wear, as he had on, and took with him, a blue duffil great coat, bound round with brown binding, a brown stuff, and a blue cloth tight bodied coat, several jackets, but more than a green and swanskin one are not remembered, a pair of plush, and a pair of new leather breeches. It is supposed he intends going off in some of the first vessels for Ireland. He has ungenerously left a wife and child at home, stripped of every thing which could have any ways contributed towards their sustenance. [1]

The good character he has always borne in the neighbourhood, has given him an opportunity, a few days before his going away, of being guilty of several very gross impositions, in particular to the great distress of a poor widow, whose circumstances can by no means bear it. All masters of vessels are forbid carrying him off, and it is hoped so great a villainy will excite the resentment of all well disposed persons to endeavour taking him up.

Three Pounds reward, and all reasonable charges, will be given for securing said Montgomery, so that he may be had again. [2]

WILLIAM HOUGH, Constable.

Notes

1. A positive aspect of Plantation America was that it was against the law—most of the colonies actually being theocracies beholding to his Britannic majesty—to abandon wife and child. The most tragic aspect of this situation was that, if Montgomery was not captured and restored to his family, the widow and child, one or both, would very likely be sold into slavery.

2. If Montgomery is recovered he would be sold to pay off this fee, as it would become his debt and debts were immediately settled with forced labor. He would be sold within—or even to—the municipality and also tasked with supporting his family and paying off his wife’s short-term debts, as did the father of Thomas Hellier back in England in 1678.

The Lies That Bind Us

The Foundational Falsehoods of the American Dream

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