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“I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.”

~Frederick Douglass


“This is a valuable collection of fugitive slave advertisements that tells much about the lives of self-emancipated blacks in the rural North. Each notice receives pristine, scrupulous editing.  Focusing on the Hudson River Valley, the editors uncover a persistent, local slavery, with national implications. Readers will be astonished at the plentiful notices that appeared after the New York State Gradual Emancipation Act of 1799, indicating continued conflict between avaricious masters and those who fled to gain their freedom.” 

-Graham Russell Gao Hodges, George Dorland Langdon, Jr. Professor of History and Africana Studies, Colgate University and author of David Ruggles, A Radical Black Abolitionist and the Underground Railroad in New York City.

“Humanizing an otherwise largely silent population, advertisements for fugitive slaves provide an exceptionally valuable window into black life in Early America—from the nature of the slave system and the master-slave relationship to fascinating glimpses into material culture and folk life. Based on exhaustive research in dozens of newspapers from across the Hudson Valley, Ashley Hurlburt-Biagini and Susan Stessin-Cohn have compiled hundreds of runaway advertisements from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Through individual transcriptions of each reprinted original image, readers get to know runaways as real people whose courage, ingenuity, and resourcefulness hastened the demise of slavery in New York. Hurlburt-Biagini’s and Stessin-Cohn’s meticulous analysis of the age, color, gender, origin, language proficiency, and skills of fugitives, supplemented by other valuable ancillary material on the history of slavery and Hudson Valley life, render this rich volume attractive to researchers and general readers alike. An extraordinary achievement.”

-Michael E. Groth, Ph.D., Professor of History, Wells College