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Runaway advertisement for Jude, October 28, 1768

How did enslaved and free Blacks resist the injustice of slavery during the colonial era?

  • I can articulate how slavery was at odds with the principle of justice.
  • I can explain how enslaved men and women resisted the institution of slavery.
  • I can create an argument supported by evidence from primary sources.
  • I can succinctly summarize the main ideas of historic texts.

Essential Vocabulary

Mulatto A person of mixed African and European descent.
Wench An insulting term for a woman.


Building Context

When enslaved men, women, or children ran away to seek freedom from their unjust condition, slaveholders often published classified advertisements offering rewards for their return. Though the level of detail varies, these advertisements provided small insights into the lives of enslaved individuals. These featured descriptions of the person’s physical appearance, details surrounding their appearance, and a reward for their return. Running away to freedom was a dangerous choice. Many did not succeed and faced cruel physical punishments if they were caught.

Runaway ad for Jude, October 28, 1768
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation,, Column 3

RUN away from the subscriber in Chesterfield, the Wednesday before Easter last, a bright mulatto wench named JUDE, almost thirty years old, is very remarkable, has lost one eye, but which I have forgot, has long black hair, a large scar on one of her elbows and several other scars on her face, and has been subject to running away ever since she was ten years old. I have great reason to believe she will pass for a free woman, and endeavor to make it into South Carolina. She is very knowing about house business, can spin, weave, sew, and iron, well. She had on when she went away her winter clothing…Whoever conveys the said slave to me shall be well rewarded for their trouble. MARY CLAY

Comprehension and Analysis Questions

  1. What details do we know about Jude from this advertisement?
  2. Why might Mary Clay think Jude can pass for a free woman?
  3. Based on the evidence of the source, were the laws that governed Jude just?
  4. How did Jude resist the system of enslavement?
  5. Shrink the text: In one sentence, write what this source reveals about enslaved Blacks in colonial Virginia.

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