The most dramatic difference between the world described by these ads and our own, of course, is that it was not only legal but common and widely accepted in North Carolina in 1837 for some human beings to own other human beings as slaves. The idea of men, women, and children being bought and sold as property is repugnant to us today -- a view that was certainly shared by African Americans in the nineteenth century and also by some abolitionist whites.
RANAWAY from the subscriber on 19th of November, a negro man, named TIM about 45 years of age, black complexion, about five feet four or five inches high, has a stoppage in his speech. He professes to be a very devout Baptist. Having purchased him in Montgomery county, not far from Stokes' Ferry, my opinion is, that he is in that neighborhood. I will give the above reward for his apprehension and delivery to me.
HENRY S. GORMAN.
Concord, Dec 17, 1836 -- 4w22
State of North Carolina, Surry County
This advertisement is actually strikingly similar to advertisements of court-ordered auctions of property that appear in newspapers today. The key difference, of course, is that the property being sold is other human beings..
WM. DAVIS Admir of James McCraw, dec's, and Ex'tor of Matthew Davis, deceased
December 17 -- 3w 22
RANAWAY from the subscriber two negro slaves, viz TONEY and JOHN. Toney is about 35 years of age, fife feet nine or ten inches high, dark complexion, square and stout build and had on when he left, a bright drab Petersham overcoat. He was purchased by me of Mr. Richard Brasley (sp?) of Wilmington, and calls himself Toney Montague. John is about twenty years of age, of rather lighter complexion than Toney, about five feet 10 inches high, and is quite stout b____ -- he has a full round face, and has lost two front teeth above and below which is his most distinguishing mark. He had on when he left, a light grey woolen round Jacket and pantaloons.
The above slaves left the camp of the subscriber while on his way to the Western country, eight miles above Lincolnton, on 28t of last month, and will no doubt endeavor to make their way back to Wilmington. The above reward will be given for their apprehension, so that I get them again.
Dec 10, 1836 -- __21
Cash for negroes
In terms of tone, this advertisement is very similar in tone to modern "wanted-to-buy" classified ads. The difference, of course, is that this advertisement is encouraging people to sell other human beings..
July 18, 1836 -- __52
In terms of its tone, this advertisement is not substantially different from modern advertisements of court-ordered sales. The difference, of course, is that this advertisement is for the sale of a human being..
W.H. ARCHIBALD, Shff. Of Cabarrus County N.C.
Dec 3 1836 -- tf20
Stop the Runaway.
RANAWAY from the subscriber living near Liberty Hill, in Iredell county, N.C., a negro man named
Formerly owned by James Cunningham. He is between forty and fifty years old; of a yellowish complexion -- round face and small eyes. He is marked with a scar in one of his ears, which has not grown together; also with a scar on the underside of his heel; which has not _______; he has also a small scar on one of his cheeks and is about five feet, five or six inches in height.
Any one taking up this negro and lodging him in jail or delivering him to me, shall be reasonably compensated.
Liberty Hill, Iredell co. N. C.
June 11th, 1836 -- __47