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Advertisement Seeking a Fugitive From Slavery, 1758


Materials in the Library of Virginia’s collections contain historical terms, phrases, and images that are offensive to modern readers. These include demeaning and dehumanizing references to race, ethnicity, and nationality; enslaved or free status; physical and mental ability; and gender and sexual orientation. 


Located amongst the Accomack County court records from 1758 is this advertisement for a fugitive enslaved person named Will. It was placed by prominent Richmond County planter Landon Carter who enslaved hundreds of men, women, and children. The advertisement is typical of ads in the period, which were used to locate fugitive enslaved people or “runaway slaves.”  

Often described as "runaway ads," these documents generally include four elements: a description of the person who ran away, any relevant information that might hasten the runaway’s capture, the reward offered, and the name of the person who placed the advertisement ("the subscriber"). This advertisement is written to provide as much information as possible about Will in order to facilitate his recapture including a physical description, personality traits, his known family and friends, his residence(s), and conjecture as to possible destination. The advertisements would be published in a variety of local, state, and even national publications to ensure the widest audience possible. 

Citation: Runaway Slave Advertisement, Landon Carter, Richmond County, 1758. Accomack County, Free Negro & Slave Records Box 1, Barcode 1138011.


VS.1, VS.2, VS.4, USI.1, VUS.1

Suggested Questions

Preview Activity

Scan It. Scan the document. What kind of information can you learn about Will from this advertisement?

Post Activities

Think About It: Why would someone place a runaway ad? 

Another Perspective: What would you do if you saw the runaway ad and thought you knew where Will was located? Consider potential ramifications for your action or inaction.