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A Runaway Distiller
Possible Evidence That more Westerly Towns Had More Lenient Runaway Statutes

May 24, 1770

The Pennsylvania Gazette

Lancaster Goal, May 1 2, 1770.

THIS day was committed to my custody, on suspicion of being a runaway servant, a well set fellow, about 5 feet 8 inches high, aged 28 years, was born in Ireland, says his name is James McHencely, and that he has followed the distilling business for many years past, as may well be believed by his uncommon ragged clothes, and scalds in his legs. If no person appears in three weeks from this date, he will be discharged according to law. [1]



1. The fact that James will be released after 3 weeks instead of held for 60 days, means that he will be sold for a lesser holding fee and consequently for a shorter term, if he is to be sold, for the term “discharged” is open to interpretation until this reader might access local statutes from the period. Even in the worst case of a sale, which is consistent for the period, James will only do a third of the time and serve a third of the price equivalent.

Stillbirth of a Nation: Caucasian Slavery in Plantation America: Part One

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