Broadside for a Reward for Enslaved People Who Escaped

Three enslavers posted this broadside offering a reward of up to $1000 for four escaped enslaved persons in Germantown, Ky., on January 20, 1840.
Grade Level

This text is part of the Teaching Hard History Text Library and aligns with Key Concepts 4 and 6.

broadside, 1000reward-thh

Text reads in part: "$1000 REWARD! Ran Away from the subscribers, on the night of the 5th inst. a NEGRO MAN named George, aged 22 or 23 years, 5 feet 7 or 8 inches in height--color, a dark black, a long or double head, had a variety of clothing, among which may be found a green frock cloth coat, with a black velvet collar, a low-crowned white silk hat. One negro BOY, aged 25 or twenty-six years . . . named Jefferson - - - he is a dark molatto [sic] . . . One negro girl, named ESTHER, . . . (nicknamed Puss) . . .a girl named AMANDA . . . " Posted by "Anderson Doniphan, Joseph Frazee, John D. Morford"; "Germantown, Mason Co. KY. 20th January 1840". 

This text is in the public domain. Retrieved from https://nmaahc.si.edu/object/nmaahc_2011.51.17.
Text Dependent Questions
  1. Question
    What reward did the enslavers offer for the individual capture of these formerly enslaved persons? What does this tell us about the enslavers?
    The enslavers offered $300 for each male and $200 for each female. This demonstrates that the enslavers valued the male formerly enslaved persons more than the females. This is further confirmed by the fact that the poster emphasizes the names of the males.
  2. Question
    How long after the escape of the enslaved persons did the enslavers post this broadside? Why do you think this delay might have occurred?
    The enslavers created this broadside on January 20, fifteen days after the enslaved persons escaped on January 5. During this period, the enslavers likely sought to capture the enslaved persons on their own. They likely turned to posting this broadside only when they realized they would not be able to capture them on their own.
  3. Question
    How does this poster demonstrate the ways enslavers used arbitrary racial distinctions and categories to depict enslaved people?
    The enslavers used certain racial categories—“a dark black,” “a dark molatto,” “a dark copper colored mulatto”—to describe the formerly enslaved persons in the hope of making it easier for other white people to distinguish them and capture them.
  4. Question
    How is the gender bias of the enslavers evident in their descriptions of the female enslaved persons versus their descriptions of the male enslaved persons?
    The enslavers describe the males through solely physical description such as the color of their skin or the style of their clothing. In addition to offering such physical descriptions for the female formerly enslaved persons, the enslavers describe them emotionally as well. The enslavers describe Esther, for instance, as “diffident and serious, embarrassed when addressed” and Amanda as having a “sullen and impudent look."
Reveal Answers