Tag Archives: The Pennsylvania Gazette
Irish-Servants

Irish Indentured Servants in the Colonies

Until the late 18th century, indentured servitude was very common in British North America. It was often a way for poor Europeans to emigrate to the American colonies: they signed an indenture in return for a passage. After their indenture expired, the immigrants were free to work for themselves or another employer.

In some cases, the indenture was made with a ship’s master, who on-sold the indenture to an employer in the colonies. Most indentured servants worked as farm laborers or domestic servants, although some were apprenticed to craftsmen.

The terms of an indenture were not always enforced by American courts, although runaways were usually sought out and returned to their employer.

Most labor contracts made were in increments of five years with the opportunity to extend another five years. Many contracts also provided a free passage home after the dictated labor was completed. However, there were generally no policies and contracts regulating control over employers once the labor hours were completed, which led to frequent abuse and ill-treatment.

Our 18th Century newspaper collections include the Pennsylvania Gazette and the South Carolina Gazette. Both newspapers carried many advertisements for the sale of indenture contracts and the recovery of runaway servants.

Indentures for Sale

August 19, 1762: To be SOLD, AN Irish Woman Servant, who has three Years and three Months to serve. Enquire at the New Printing Office. (The Pennsylvania Gazette)

October 29, 1766: TO be disposed of, two Irish Servant Boys times, the one having Six, the other Seven Years to serve, and are suitable either for Town or Country Business. The above Servants Times are disposed of for no Fault, but only for want of Employment. For further Particulars, enquire of William Parr, Esq; or of the Subscriber, living at the Corner of Walnut and Third streets. (The Pennsylvania Gazette)

August 10, 1738: Just arrived from DUBLIN, In the Snow JOLLY BACCHUS, Peter Cullen, Commander: A PARCEL of likely ENGLISH and IRISH SERVANTS, Tradesmen, viz. Shoemakers, Taylors, Weavers, Black and White Smiths, Carpenters, Husband- men and sundry other Tradesmen: Also a Parcel of likely Servant Women, fit for either Town or Country Work; whose Times are to be disposed of, by THOMAS WALKER, Butcher, or SAMUEL WALKER, or JOHN BEAUMONT, or the said Master on Board the aid Snow, now lying off against Market-Street Wharffe, where all due Attendance will be given. Philadelphia, August 3, 1738. (The Pennsylvania Gazette)

May 25, 1734: To be Sold by Ribton Hutchinson on the Bay extraordinary good Butter in Firkins, Herrings, Cheese, Irish Potatoes, Mens and Womens Servants, Irish Linnens of several sorts, and good Barbados Rum in Hogsheads, Terces and Barrils. (The South Carolina Gazette)

May 13, 1766: To be sold, for no Fault, an Irish indented Servant Maid, who is an excellent Sempstress, and has upwards of four Years to serve., Enquire of CHARLES CROUCH. at his Printing-Office, in Elliott-street. (The South Carolina Gazette)

The Pennsylvania Gazette was one of the United States’ most prominent newspapers from 1728—before the time period of the American Revolution—until 1800. Published in Philadelphia from 1728 through 1800, The Pennsylvania Gazette is considered The New York Times of the 18th century.
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“Negro Generosity” in 1790 Jamaica

Jamaica, Feb. 5, 1790

The following are recent instances of negro generosity, notwithstanding we are too apt to consider them as mere stupid beasts of burden:

An estate under a heavy mortgage was sold from its owner, who soon after died, leaving a widow, a son, and two daughters in very distressed circumstances. The negroes (having been formerly well treated) had a meeting, and agreed to pay an annuity of half a bit a week, each, for the support of their old master’s family. Seeing the son, soon after, passing through the plantation in a ragged coat, they assembled again, and made up a purse of three pounds (equal to nine dollars) with which they bought cloth and linen to refit him. This was an extra bounty, not interfering with the stipend, which they continue to pay regularly.

Another planter was sued for a very considerable amount, in consequence of several protested bills. Judgment was obtained, and writs issued against the property, when the negroes assembled before the door with a large sum of money tied up in bags made of old stockings, and said, if that was insufficient, hey would try to borrow as much more from their friends and relations.

These instances prove, that negroes are not brutish in their nature, and by no means divested of the finer feelings.

The Pennsylvania Gazette was one of the United States’ most prominent newspapers from 1728—before the time period of the American Revolution—until 1800. Published in Philadelphia from 1728 through 1800, The Pennsylvania Gazette is considered The New York Times of the 18th century.

Source: The Pennsylvania Gazette, March 17, 1790


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King George and the Indian Chiefs in London

This report from London appeared in the December 8, 1730 issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette.

September 10, 1730: Yesterday the Indian Chiefs were carried from their Lodgings in King street, Covent Garden, to the Plantation Office at Whitehill, guarded by two Files of Musketeers.

When they were brought up to the Lords Commissioners, they sang 4 or 5 Songs in their Country Language; after which the Interpreter was ordered to let them know that they were sent for there to join in Peace with King George and his People; and were desired to say, if they had any Thing further to offer relating to the Contract they had before entered into.

Upon which the King stood up, and gave a large Feather he had in his Hand to the Prince, who thereupon spoke to the Lords Commissioners to this Effect:

That they were sensible of the good Usage they received since they came here, and that they would use our People always well; that they came here like Worms out of the Earth, naked, and that we had put fine Cloaths on their Backs, (pointing to the Cloaths) and that they never should forget such king Dealings, but should declare the same to their Countrymen.

The Pennsylvania Gazette was one of the United States’ most prominent newspapers from 1728—before the time period of the American Revolution—until 1800. Published in Philadelphia from 1728 through 1800, The Pennsylvania Gazette is considered The New York Times of the 18th century.
And thereupon the Prince laid the Feather with a Bit of Skin upon the Table, saying, It should be as good as the Bible to bind the Contract with King George; and said also, that a Feather should not better love his Son, than they would do us: So made a Peace.

The Commissioners then told them they should have a Copy of the Contract, with the King’s seal to it; and the Governor should entertain them; upon which the King got up and kiss’d the Commissioners, as the Prince had done before; the other Chiefs also did the same; whereupon they sang some more Songs, and then returned home.

Source: The Pennsylvania Gazette, December 8, 1730


Washington-Easter

Philadelphia Welcomes President Washington

In September of 1790, President George Washington visited Philadelphia on his way south from New York City. This report about a gathering in his honor appeared in the September 8, 1790 issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette.

A Repast and Toast

Thursday last about two o’clock arrived in town from New York, the President of the United States — his lady and their suite. They were joined on their approach by a number of respectable citizens — the city troops of horse, artillery, and companies of light infantry, who, on this occasion, as well as others, all testified their affection for the BENEFACTOR OF MANKIND.

Every public demonstration of joy was manifested; — the bells announced his welcome — a feue de joye was exhibited — and as he rode through town, to the City-Tavern, age bowed with respect and youth repeated, in acclamations, the applauses of the HERO of the Western World.

The Pennsylvania Gazette was one of the United States’ most prominent newspapers from 1728—before the time period of the American Revolution—until 1800. Published in Philadelphia from 1728 through 1800, The Pennsylvania Gazette is considered The New York Times of the 18th century.
At four o’clock he partook of a repast (provided by the Corporation at the City-Tavern) accompanied by the members of our Legislature and of the State Convention — by the President and other Executive Officers of Pennsylvania, at which REASON, VALOUR and HOSPITALITY presided.
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Haitian Revolution

News from the Haitian Revolution

The Haitian Revolution, was a successful anti-slavery and anti-colonial insurrection that took place in the former French colony of Saint Domingue that lasted from 1791 until 1804. It impacted the institution of slavery throughout the Americas. Self-liberated slaves destroyed slavery at home, fought to preserve their freedom, and with the collaboration of mulattoes, founded the sovereign state of Haiti. It led to the greatest slave uprising since Spartacus, who led an unsuccessful revolt against the Roman Republic nearly 1,900 years prior.

The Haitian Revolution was the only slave uprising that led to the founding of a state free from slavery and ruled by non-whites and former captives.

News of the revolution was carried in newspapers in the newly founded United States. This item appeared in the Pennsylvania Gazette on May 2, 1792 by way of Boston.

News from the West Indies

Boston, April 19, 1792

Since our last, several vessels have arrived from Port-au Prince, all of which bring the most gloomy accounts of the situation of that island; the distresses of which appear to be owing, not more to the revolt and devastation of the slaves , than to the enmity prevailing among the freemen, and the want of subordination to any government.

About the 13th of March, the negroes attacked the town of Leogane – set fire to the plantations on the plain, and were joined by the negroes thereon, who had till then been in quiet servitude: after much fighting and burning, the negroes retreated. Many were killed on both sides – the lowest number, including all parties and colours, is stated at 1000.

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