Subject: Indentured Servants and Slaves

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Subject: Indentured Servants and Slaves Grade 6

Prepared by: Marion Garratt School: Mt. Vernon Woods

Title or Topic: A Comparison of Indentured Servants and Slaves

Instructional Time: Six forty five minute to 1 hour periods

This unit is constructed to be integrated during Language Arts time. .
1. Essential Learning (Big picture to be learned)

Students will examine and compare the lives of slaves and indentured servants using primary sources and the historical fiction books, Molly Bannaky and Barefoot.

2. Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL)
US1.1 The student will develop skills for historical and geographical analysis including

the ability to:

a. Identify and interpret primary and secondary documents to increase understanding of events and life in United States History to 1877

b. Make connections between the past and the present

d. Interpret ideas and events from different historical perspectives

e. Evaluate and discuss issues orally and in writing

USI.5 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the factors that shaped colonial America by:

c. Describing colonial life in America from the perspectives of large landowners, farmers, artisans, women, indentured servants and slaves

3. Fairfax County Program of Studies (POS)
6.2.1: Students conduct research and gather a variety of information for the purpose of analyzing data and making inferences regarding major historical events
6.3.1: Students examine the factors contributing to the development of a governing system and discuss the relationship between group needs and individual freedom
6.5.1 Students analyze the relevance of historical antecedents and their effects on later events.
6:9.1: Students analyze different perspectives on significant issues in American history.
4. National History Standards (History Thinking Standards)
Chronological Thinking

Historical Comprehension

Historical Analysis and interpretation

5. Learning Strategy Objectives:

Tell what you know-access prior knowledge

Make inferences

Use selective attention

Use resources



Use Graphic organizers

6. Connection to TAH Grant:

Content: Slavery

The book discussion on Jefferson’s Pillow stimulated my thinking on the effect of slavery on the foundation of the United States. Visiting Mt. Vernon further explored the subject as the role of the slaves was explored along with George Washington’s evolving belief that selling and owning slaves was wrong. The readings and Dr. Errico’s lecture on slavery deepened my interest in this topic. As a result of the TAH grant I was able to attend the George Washington Symposium which challenged me to see slavery as a key issue to view American history through.

Pedagogy : We have been inspired to use the internet, graphic organizers and primary documents. Also, instructional strategies for accessing prior knowledge, making inferences, and comparisons will be utilized. These strategies were presented in the following seminars: Western Expansion, Founding Documents and Slavery and Freedom.
1. Assessment:

Pre-assessment: Use a T Chart for the words indentured and slave. Use one column for each word

2. Assessment : Complete Venn diagram for slaves and indentured servants on the ship. Use information from the primary source documents.

Color the ship. Project will be evaluated for content information and aesthetic appeal.

Journal Response: Could the Barefoot be a slave, indentured servant or both?

Use the information from the Venn Diagram and primary documents to support your thinking.
2. Instructional Strategies: (Describe step by step procedure. Include opener, teacher presentation and student activities.)

Opener: Read Barefoot

*Show students the book cover. Cover the words, Escape on the Underground Railroad. with sticky notes so they can not be seen. Ask for predictions? Who could be barefoot? What connections can you make with the pictures or with being barefooted?

*Read pages 1-17 through without any discussion to set the mood.
* Questions: What images do you have of the Barefoot? What pictures, words and feelings portray the Barefoot and the ones who are chasing him? Why is the Barefoot


* Partner Share (about 2 min - students turn to a person next to them)
*Ask several students to share their partner’s thinking.
*Make notes on a class chart.

Make a list of words and phrases that describe Barefoot and Heavy Boots?

Group Discussion: Why is one called Barefoot and the other Heavy Boots? How does the natural world respond to the chase? What genre is Barefoot? Is it fiction or nonfiction? Could this story really happen? What is Historical Fiction? What is realistic in this story and what is not? Explain to the students that Historical Fiction is fiction that takes place in a historical setting with a historical problem. The historical problem is the barefoot fleeing the master.

T Chart
*Work with a partner to complete T Chart for indentured servants and slaves (about 10 minutes) Students are to draw T chart in notebook. Draw a line across the paper from left to right. Fold the page in half. Draw a line to the bottom of the page down the fold. Place Indentured Servants over the Left column and Slaves over the right. The line is in the middle. Students list prior knowledge of indentured servants and slaves on the T Chart in the appropriate column.
On chart paper list prior knowledge of indentured servants
Molly Bannaky: Show the cover and have students make predictions about Molly’s life and character traits from the picture. Introduce this book as Historical Fiction.
While the teacher is reading, students will make notes about the lives of indentured servants and slaves on the T chart in their notebook. Continue to use the left column for indentured servants and the right column for slaves. Use a different color for notes on Molly Bananaky.
Read about Molly’s life in England. What was her social position? Why was Molly accused of stealing the Lord’s milk? What civil rights did she have? Why was she indentured? What time period is this? What is her problem?
Read two times about her seven years as an indentured servant. Students will make a list of her duties- Discuss her life as an indentured servant.
Have students summarize the information they have collected about indentured servants. Could the barefoot be an indentured servant? Would an indentured servant want to run away? What information can we add to our Indentured Servant chart after reading Molly Bannaky?
Strategy: Partner share: Have the class turn to the student next to them. Share two ideas from their T Chart. Select students to share one idea shared by their partner. This strategy encourages students to listen to each other. If they did not record the same information, they can borrow the information from their partner and record it on their chart.

Day 2
Objective: Students will research, record and compare information about the life of slaves and indentured servants from historical fiction and primary texts.
Opener: Summarize the reading and thinking from the previous day’s reading of Molly Bannaky. Review the characteristics of an indentured servant.
Molly Bannaky: Read the description of the slave ship docking. Compare the picture of the slave ship with the indentured servant ship. What are the similarities and the differences?
Read about Molly and Bannaky. Was Bannaky’s a normal slave experience? What was Bannaky’s background? How was he set free? What was Colonial law in regards to interracial marriage? Could a free person marry a slave? Could an indentured servant and a slave marry? What was the historical time period? How does this time period relate to slave codes?
What were the similarities and differences between Molly and Bannaky’s experience as slaves and servants?
Do you think that Bannaky could be a Barefoot? What about the others on the ship?

Students record information about slavery on the T chart. Discuss

PRIMARY DOCUMENTS: To find out more about the lives of slaves and indentured servants we will read some primary documents written by or dictated by slaves and servants. Explain to the students what a primary document is and why it is important. A primary document describes the personal experience in a historical context. Show samples of primary documents. Some of the documents listed in the resources can be printed off to show the students.

Read the following excerpt by Elizabeth Sprigs with the class. Complete the structured writing assignment with the class by modeling how to obtain the information from the primary source. Compare the source with Molly Bannaky. How does reading a primary source affect your thinking about slaves and indentured servants? The full selection could be used by students later for their organizer. It is not necessary to fill in every question for the sample if your class understands how to find the information. The enclosed sample could have other specific details listed.


Elizabeth Sprigs, Letter to Her Father, overhead or poster size

Primary Document Organizer

Elizabeth Sprigs, Letter to Her Father (1756)

Maryland, Sept’r 22’d 1756

by Elizabeth Sprigs

What we unfortunate English People suffer here is beyond the probability of you in England to Conceive, let it suffice that I one of the unhappy Number, am toiling almost Day and Night, and very often in the Horses drudgery, with only this comfort that you do not halfe enough, and then tied up and whipp’d to that Degree that you’d not serve an Animal, scarce any thing but Indian Corn and Salt to eat and that even begrudged nay many Negroes are better used, almost naked no shoes nor stockings to wear, and the comfort after slaving during Masters pleasure, what rest we can get is to rap ourselves up in a Blanket and ly upon the Ground, this is the deplorable Condition your poor Betty endures,

Primary Resource Organizer

Selection: Elizabeth Sprigs, Letter to Her Father (1756)

Type of Source: letter

Date of text: September 22, 1756

Location: Maryland

List three facts or ideas from the text

  1. The English people are suffering in Maryland in a way that people in England would have a hard time believing.

  2. Elizabeth works day and night eats Indian corn and salt and sleeps on the floor in misery at night.

  3. She lacks clothes, shoes and stockings and feels continually abused from whippings and over work.

Share one thing you found interesting

Elizabeth does not mention anything positive about her life in Maryland

Day Three
Objective: Students will complete with a partner a structured reading assignment to analyze the experience of the slave or indentured servant featured in the primary document
Have students work in groups or with a partner on the primary documents or an excerpt from a primary document. Students are to glue or staple primary source text and the guided reading organizer into their notebook. Many texts are listed. Excerpts from texts are included. Teachers can decide what is most appropriate for their students. Students need to understand that documents will portray only part of the experience and as other students share their documents a more complete picture will be made. Students may be interested in the full text included here.

On the Misfortune of Indentured Servants (1754)

Gottlieb Mittelberger

The sale of human beings in the market on board the ship is carried on thus: Every day Englishmen, Dutchmen and High-German people come from the city of Philadelphia and other places, in part from a great distance, say 20, 30, or 40 hours away, and go on board the newly arrived ship that has brought and offers for sale passengers from Europe, and select among the healthy persons such as they deem suitable for their business, and bargain with them how long they will serve for their passage money, which most of them are stffl in debt for. When they have come to an agreement, it happens that adult persons bind themselves in writing to serve 3, 4, 5 or 6 years for the amount due by them, according to their age and strength. But very young people, from 10 to 15 years, must serve till they are 21 years old.

Many parents must sell and trade away their children like so many head of cattle; for if their children take the debt upon themselves, the parents can leave the ship free and unrestrained; but as the parents often do not know where and to what people their children are going, it often happens that such parents and children, after leaving the ship, do not see each other again for many years, perhaps no more in all their lives.

It often happens that whole families, husband, wife, and children, are separated by being sold to different purchasers, especially when they have not paid any part of their passage money.

When a husband or wife has died at sea, when the ship has made more than half of her trip, the survivor must pay or serve not only for himself or herself, but also for the deceased.

When both parents have died over half-way at sea, their children, especially when they are young and have nothing to pawn or to pay, must stand for their own and their parents' passage, and serve tffi they are 21 years old. When one has served his or her term, he or she is entitled to a new suit of clothes at parting; and if it has been so stipulated, a man gets in addition a horse, a woman, a cow.

Excerpts from Federal Writers Project 1936-1938

Sarah Frances Shaw Graves, Age 87

"I was born March 23, 1850 in Kentucky, somewhere near Louisville. I am goin' on 88 years right now. (1937). I was brought to Missouri when I was six months old, along with my mama, who was a slave owned by a man named Shaw, who had allotted her to a man named Jimmie Graves, who came to Missouri to live with his daughter Emily Graves Crowdes. I always lived with Emily Crowdes."

The matter of allotment was confusing to the interviewer and Aunt Sally endeavored to explain.

"Yes'm. Allotted? Yes'm. I'm goin' to explain that, " she replied. "You see there was slave traders in those days, jes' like you got horse and mule an' auto traders now. They bought and sold slaves and hired 'em out. Yes'm, rented 'em out. Allotted means somethin' like hired out. But the slave never got no wages. That all went to the master. The man they was allotted to paid the master."

"I was never sold. My mama was sold only once, but she was hired out many times. Yes'm when a slave was allotted, somebody made a down payment and gave a mortgage for the rest. A chattel mortgage. . . ."

"Allotments made a lot of grief for the slaves," Aunt Sally asserted. "We left my papa in Kentucky, 'cause he was allotted to another man. My papa never knew where my mama went, an' my mama never knew where papa went." Aunt Sally paused a moment, then went on bitterly. "They never wanted mama to know, 'cause they knowed she would never marry so long she knew where he was. Our master wanted her to marry again and raise more children to be slaves. They never wanted mama to know where papa was, an' she never did," sighed Aunt Sally.

Read the rest of this narrative.

John W. Fields, Age 89

"In most of us colored folks was the great desire to [be] able to read and write. We took advantage of every opportunity to educate ourselves. The greater part of the plantation owners were very harsh if we were caught trying to learn or write. It was the law that if a white man was caught trying to educate a negro slave, he was liable to prosecution entailing a fine of fifty dollars and a jail sentence. We were never allowed to go to town and it was not until after I ran away that I knew that they sold anything but slaves, tobacco, and wiskey. Our ignorance was the greatest hold the South had on us. We knew we could run away, but what then? An offender guilty of this crime was subjected to very harsh punishment." Read the rest of this narrative.

William Moore, Age 82

"Some Sundays we went to church some place. We allus liked to go any place. A white preacher allus told us to 'bey our masters and work hard and sing and when we die we go to Heaven. Marse Tom didn't mind us singin' in our cabins at night, but we better not let him cotch us prayin'.

"Seems like niggers jus' got to pray. Half they life am in prayin'. Some nigger take turn 'bout to watch and see if Marse Tom anyways 'bout, then they circle theyselves on the floor in the cabin and pray. They git to moanin' low and gentle, 'Some day, some day, some day, this yoke gwine be lifted offen our shoulders.'

"Marse Tom been dead long time now. I 'lieve he's in hell. Seem like that where he 'long. He was a terrible mean man and had a indiff'ent, mean wife. But he had the fines', sweetes' chillun the Lawd ever let live and breathe on this earth. They's so kind and sorrowin' over us slaves.

"Some them chillun used to read us li'l things out of papers and books. We'd look at them papers and books like they somethin' mighty curious, but we better not let Marse Tom or his wife know it!

Read the rest of this narrative.

Elizabeth Sprigs, Letter to Her Father (1756)

Maryland, Sept’r 22’d 1756

Honored Father

My being for ever banished from your sight, will I hope pardon the Boldness I now take of troubling you with these, my long silence has been purely owning to my undutifullness to you, and well knowing I had offended in the highest Degree, put a tie to my tongue and pen, for fear I should be extinct from your good Graces and add a further Trouble to you, but too well knowing your care and tenderness for me so long as I retain’d my Duty to you, induced me once again to endeavor if possible, to kindle up that flame again. O Dear Father, believe what I am going to relate the words of truth and sincerity, and Balance my former bad Conduct my sufferings here, and then I am sure you’ll pity your Destress Daughter, What we unfortunate English People suffer here is beyond the probability of you in England to Conceive, let it suffice that I one of the unhappy Number, am toiling almost Day and Night, and very often in the Horses drudgery, with only this comfort that you do not halfe enough, and then tied up and whipp’d to that Degree that you’d not serve an Animal, scarce any thing but Indian Corn and Salt to eat and that even begrudged nay many Negroes are better used, almost naked no shoes nor stockings to wear, and the comfort after slaving during Masters pleasure, what rest we can get is to rap ourselves up in a Blanket and ly upon the Ground, this is the deplorable Condition your poor Betty endures, and now I beg if you have any Bowels of Compassion left show it by sending me some Relief, Clothing is the principal thing wanting, which if you should condiscend to, may easily send them to me by any of the ships bound to Baltimore Town Patapsco River Maryland, and give me leave to conclude in Duty to you and Uncles and Aunts, and Respect to all Friends

Honored Father

Your undutifull and Disobedient Child

Elizabeth Sprigs

Source: Elizabeth Sprigs, “Letter to Mr. John Sprigs in White Cross Street near Cripple Gate, London, September 22, 1756,” in Isabel Calder, ed., Colonial Captivities, Marches, and Journeys (New York: Macmillan Company, 1935), 151–52. Reprinted by permission of the Connecticut Chapter of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America

Documents included: Elizabeth Sprigs, Letter to Her Father

Gottlieb Mittelberger On the Misfortune of Indentured Servants

Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers project

Students can select from several letters and narratives written by indentured servants and slaves.

Memoirs of a Monticello Slave, as dictated to Charles Campbell by Isaac (1847)

Experiences of an Indentured Servant (1623)

Elizabeth Sprigs, Letter to Her Father (1756)

Richard Lowther (1627)

Indenture Contract of William Buckland

Gottlieb Mittelberger On the Misfortune of Indentured Servants (1754)

Narratives from Slavery Time When I was Chilliun

htpp: //


The previous websites are listed in the bibliography. Advanced students can use these for further research. The excerpts included will work for the class

The slave narrative excerpts are written later with the Federal Writers project.

Groups who finish early should be encouraged to read and discuss a second selection so that they read a primary source for indentured servants and slaves.

Conclusion: Students share their learning. Students will compare information, tone of writing and purpose of writing between primary resource and Barefoot and Molly Bannaky.

Primary Resource Organizer


Type of Source:

Date of text


List three facts or ideas from the text




Share one thing you found interesting


Day 4 Ship Venn Diagram

Objective: Students will use knowledge from the primary resources, SOL objectives and Molly Bannaky to complete the Ship Venn diagram.

Some students may still be finishing their Primary document organizer while others may be looking up more information on the websites listed in the lesson plan.

Lesson Assessment: Complete the Ship Venn diagram by comparing the lives and roles of slaves and indentured servants. Make a draft of the Venn diagram in the student notebook before placing the information on the ship. Color the ship and the background. Go over the words on the ship with fine point marker. Color code the Venn diagram with three colors, one color each for Slaves, Indentured Servants and Both. Once the diagram is approved it should be placed on the ship. Color the ship. The finished product should be graded for both content information and visual presentation.
Differentiation: For students who need extra support in organizing their thoughts for the Venn Diagram color code the T Chart. With a highlighter underline ideas that are the same in both columns. Use these highlighted ideas for the center portion of the diagram.

For students who are visual learners and have limited writing and speaking skills have them make a story board illustrating their knowledge of slaves and indentured servants

Conclusion: Students share the Ship Venn Diagrams. Final discussion should include some of these questions. What are the similarities between the indentured servants and slaves? What hardships did they both endure? What benefits did indentured servants have that slaves did not have? Can we judge the past with today’s values? What was most meaningful to you in your learning?

Materials/ Resources

Barefoot by Pamela Duncan Edwards

Molly Bannaky by Alice Mc Gill

Narratives from Slavery Time When I was a Chillun by Belinda Hurmence

T Chart constructed by student in notebook-

Ship Venn diagram – illustration by 6th grade student Juan Carlos Garcia Luna, 2003

Primary source organizer

Gifted: Encourage these students to read the more challenging narratives or the full narrative instead of the excerpt. Use the websites to look up more narratives. Using the Venn diagram write a comparison between indentured servants and slaves. Use additional research from the internet. The writing can be a letter, essay or a diary entry, or a letter to the master with an explanation for running away. Possible further extensions include creating a visual, story board, children’s book, writing a song or reader’s theatre script and building a model. Students should be able to choose the type of media to present their learning experience with this complex subject.
Further extensions could explain how and why slavery evolved from the indentured servant.
Special Education: Develop the vocabulary and the background knowledge needed to understand the experience. Indentured servants were not always willing to come. They were sold just like slaves. They will need help in making the comparisons and similarities. When students are taking notes on the T-chart color code the information. This will make it easy to use. The Venn Diagram should have three colors. Use text that is easily understood. Also use picture (watch out for graphic pictures) (Limit student access to pictures on web) Students who have difficulty with note taking could tell a partner or take turns writing. Statements on the graphic organizer need to match SOL content. Students may need assistance with primary documents. Look for short selections or use parts of a selection. The modern English version will help. They may need to be read out loud to the students and discussed. Encourage the students to take the information listed on the T-Chart from Molly Bannaky and look for examples in the primary sources.
ESOL: Children who come from other cultures need to make connections with the history of slavery in their cultures. They need to see that this was a world wide system. Learning strategies that help students to develop background knowledge and vocabulary will make the learning experience richer. Beginning with Barefoot and Molly Bannaky will help to build background knowledge. Partner work and using visuals will also help.

Give them opportunities to speak, write and discuss their thinking.

Extension opportunities should also be available for all students.

Annotated Bibliography
Edwards, Pamela Duncan. Barefoot. Harper Collins, 1997.

This exciting picture book is only used through page 17. We only use the chase part of the book only. The Barefoot is used as an image to encourage the students to think.

Do not use the remainder of the book. This is a fiction book.
McGill, Alice. Molly Bannaky. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999

This is a wonderful story about an indentured servant and a slave, an African prince, who married and became the grandparents to Benjamin Banneker. It has good details about the bondage that Molly received for the punishment for a cow spilling the Lord’s milk. Molly Bannaky is a historical picture book.

Hurmence, Belinda. Slavery Time When I Was Chillun. New York: G.P. Putnam’s

Sons, 1997

This book presents slave narratives from the Federal Writers Project. It also has pictures.
Nelson, Vaunda Micheaux. Almost to Freedom. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 2003
Ship Venn Diagram: illustrated by sixth grade student, Juan Carlos Garcia , 2003 for Mr. Gregory Harris, Mt. Vernon Woods Elementary School, 2003

Websites : Can be used directly by pressing CTRL button with mouse button on the blue line (go to First Hand Accounts and Letters) This is an excellent website with many letters, contracts and information about indentured servants.(Attachment for Experiences of an Indentured Servant, Richard Lowther)

There are slave narratives are on this site and also many other documents related to slavery and the law. The full web page is underneath but it is easier to go to the first address and click on African American History and then slave narratives. The Federal Writers project can be found here

This is the attachment for Mittelberger who describes the trip for indentured servants

Elizabeth Sprigs, Letter to HerFather, is located at this site. This letter describes her situation as an indentured servant.

This is another website for slave narratives.

Slave narratives.

This website has a great selection of runaway ads

Ship Venn diagram

Directions: Increase the picture on the copy machine 50 percent. Use 14”by 17” to make copies.

Possible student prior knowledge
Indentured Servants

Chose to come to the colonies

Signed a contract

Worked hard

Received freedom after a period of time

Worked for 4-7 years for passage


Were forced to come from Africa


Never received freedom

Separated from family

Bought and sold as property

Came from many different cultures in Africa

SOL knowledge students must know in Virginia
Indentured Servants

Consisted of men and women who did not have money for passage

Agreed to work without pay for the person who paid for passage

Free at end of contract


Captured in native Africa, sold to slave traders

Shipped to colonies sold into slavery

Owned as property for life with no rights

Were often born into slavery

Use the information from the Sol Content knowledge on the Venn diagram
Similarities between slaves and indentured servants

Both could be bought and sold

Lacked proper food and clothing

Poor housing

Hard work

Often died from servitude

Could be hunted and punished for running away, whipped or branded

Could be separated from


Were not allowed to learn to read and write

Information from Molly Bannaky

Molly was forced to be an indent

She was allowed to earn extra money while working as a servant

She was given materials and land at the end of her contract

It was illegal to marry an African

She was the grandmother of Benjamin Banneker

Journal conclusion:

The Barefoot could be either an indentured servant or a slave. Both ran away and were retrieved and punished. Looking at the many ads for runaways, some were servants while others were slaves. Many servants were abused as Elizabeth Sprig testifies. As the Federal Project makes clear some masters were kinder than others. Whippings, hard labor, lack of food and clothing were all reasons for running away.

If the entire unit is being completed, this journal selection will have even more meaning after reading the runaway ads and journals. Heavy Boots is after the runaway because the servant and the slave are valuable economic assets to him. Heavy Boots is both the master, the colonial authorities and later the slave hunters.

Days Five and Six: The Economic Value of Servants and Slaves


  1. Essential Learning (Big Picture to be learned)

Students will analyze and compare advertisements for runaway slaves. The students will learn that slaves were treated as property that had a high economic value.

  1. Assessment: Students will identify and compare the characteristics of the runaways using at least two primary source adds.

Opener: We used the book Barefoot as a tool to understand why an indentured servant and a slave would run away. We also saw from our reading of primary documents that slaves and indentured servants were both treated very poorly and many of them ran away and many died from the severe conditions. The time period we dealt with earlier was the 1600’s through the early 1700’s. Today we are going to look at reasons why slaves ran away and the extensive documentation of ads for runaway slave.
Almost to Freedom - Read pages 1-10

What are the reasons for running away sighted in this story? This is historical fiction told through whose point of view? What effect did slavery have on the family? Is this a realistic picture of the time period? What consequences did run away slaves face?


Poster size copy of Runaway advertisement for Tom, University of Kentucky


chart paper

Procedure: What is this? What information does it give? What do you notice about Tom from the description? What are the identifying characteristics for Tom?

Why do you think Tom ran away?

Discuss the set up of the ad. As a class answer the following questions listed under Primary Documents
Primary Documents

Select two ads.

Answer the following questions

Who ran away?

Who is making the ad?

What is the reward?

What words are used to describe the runaway?

Can a person be property?

What is the geographic area?

Virginia Gazette
(Parks), Williamsburg,
From Friday, October 15, to Friday, October 22, 1736.

    Williamsburg, October 22, 1736. RAN away, about the middle of August last, from Roy's Warehouse, in Caroline County, Two new Negro men, of a middle Stature; one of them of a yellow Complexion, with a Scar on the Top of his Head. The other a black Fellow; and they took with them several Linen Cloths, and Cotton Frocks, without Sleeves, which they had when I bought them. Whoever takes up the said Slaves and brings them to the above-mentioned Warehouse, shall have Two Pistoles Reward, besides what the Law directs, paid by

Peyton Smith.

   Reprint: Windley, vol. 1, p. 1.

Virginia Gazette
(Parks), Williamsburg ,
From August 26 to September 2, 1737.

   August 24, 1737. LAST Friday was Se'nnight, a Negroe Woman, belonging to Mr. Clayborn Gouge, at Clayborn's Ferry, in New Kent County, either ran away, or was convey 'd away by Water: She is of a low Stature, well set, Grey headed, a Virginian born, and speaks good English. Whoever will bring her to her said Master, shall have a Pistole Reward, besides what the Law allows: And any Person that will prove who convey 'd her away, shall have Five Pounds Reward, paid by
Clayborn Gouge.

Students can also use the following web address to access hundreds of ads for runaway Virginia slaves

Runaways Apprehended: Three servants ran away. Read the following minutes from the court. Why is this case so significant?
Answer the following questions in your journal

  1. Who petitioned the court about his runaway servants

  2. What state is the court located in?

  3. Where did the servants run to?

  4. List each servant by name, nationality or race and with his punishment?

  5. What happened to John Punch?

6 ) Name two precedents set by this case?

Students read the court minutes and answer questions in journal.

Make copies for students of the minutes and the questions

H[enry] R[ead] McIlwaine (1864-1934), ed, Minutes of the Council and General Court of Colonial Virginia, 1622-1632, 1670-1676, with Notes and Excerpts from Original Council and General Court Records, into 1683, Now Lost (Richmond : The Colonial Press, Everett Waddy Co., 1924).

June 4, 1640. Upon the petition of Hugh Gwyn gent wherein he complained to this board of three of his servants that are run away to Maryland to his much loss and prejudice and wherein he hath humbly requested the board that he may have liberty to make [10] the sale or benefit of the said servants in the said Maryland which the Court taking into Consideration and weighing the dangerous consequences of such pernicious precident do order that a letter be written unto the said Governour to the intent the said servants may be returned hither to receive such exemplary and condign punishment as the nature of their offence shall justly deserve and then to be returned to their said master

9th Of July, 1640

Whereas Hugh Gwyn hath by order from this Board Brought back from Maryland three servants formerly run away from the said Gwyn, the court doth therefore order that the said three servants shall receive the punishment of whipping and to have thirty stripes apiece one called Victor, a dutchman, the other a Scotchman called James Gregory, shall first serve out their times with their master according to their Indentures, and one whole year apiece after the time of their service is Expired. By their said Indentures in recompense of his Loss sustained by their absence and after that service to their said master is Expired to serve the colony for three whole years apiece, and that the third being a negro named John Punch shall serve his said master or his assigns for the time of his natural Life here or elsewhere.

Answer Key

1) Hugh Gwyn

2) Virginia

3) Maryland

4) Victor- Dutchman- served the master for an extra year, the colony for three years and received whipping with 30 lashes

James Gregory- Scotsman- serve the master and extra year, the colony three, and received whipping with 30 lashes

John Punch- Negro was whipped with 30 lashes, sentenced to serve master for life

5) First known case of slavery and first case of sending to another state to request runaways be sent home.


These cases can be used for students who need more information on runaway cases during this time period.

.[11] July 22, 1640.

Whereas complaint has been made to this Board by Capt Wm Pierce Esqr that six of his servants and a negro of Mr Reginolds has plotted to run away unto the Dutch plantation from their said masters and did assay to put the same in Execution upon Saturday night being the 18th day July 1640 as appeared to the Board by the Examinations of Andres Noxe, Richd Hill, Richd Cookeson and John Williams and likewise by the consession of Christopher Miller, Peter Wilcocke, and Emanuel the foresaid Negro who had at the fore said time, taken the skiff of the said Capt Wm Pierce their master, and corn poweder and shot and guns, to accomplish their said purposes, which said persons sailed down in the said skiff to Elizabeth river where they were taken and brought back again, the Court taking the same into consideration, as a dangerous precident for the future time (if unpunished) did order that Christopher Miller a dutchman (a prince agent in the business) should receive the punishment of whipping and to have thirty stripes, and to be burnt in the cheek with the letter R and to work with a shakle on his legg for one whole year, and longer if said master shall see cause and after his full time of service is Expired with his said master to serve the colony for seven whole years, and the said Peter Wilcocke to receive thirty stripes and to be Burnt in the cheek with the letter R and, after his term of service is Expired with his said [12] master to serve the colony for three years and the said Richd Cookson after his full time expired with his master to serve the colony for two years and a half, and the said Richd Hill to remain upon his good behaviour until the next offence and the said Andrew Noxe to receive thirty stripes, and the said John Williams a dutchman and a Chirugeon after his full time of service is Expired with his master to serve the colony for seven years, and Emanuel the Negro to receive thirty stripes and to be burnt in the cheek with the letter R. and to work in shakle one year or more as his master shall see cause, and all those who are condemned to serve the colony after their times are expired with their masters, then their said masters are required hereby to present to this board their said servants so condemned to the colony



13th of Oct., 1640.

The Court hath ordered that Wm Wootton and John Bradye as principall actors and contrivers in a most dangerous conspiracy by attempting to run out of the country and Inticing divers others to be actors in the said conspiracy to be whipt from the gallows to the Court door and that the said Bradye shall be Branded with an Iron in the shoulder, and Wotton in the forehead each of them to serve the Colony seven years, the service due from the [13] said Wotton to the said Mr Sanderson being first performed, each of them to work in Irons during the time of the said censure for the rest of these that are freemen (viz) John Tomkinson and Ricr West for consenting and concealing the said plott that they shall be whipt and serve the colony two years and those that are servants (viz) John Winchester, Wm Drummer Robt Rouse and Robt Mosely to be whipt only as also Margarett Beard, and that the masters of the said servants shall pay the fees due from the servants to the sheriffs and the servants shall make good the same, at the Expiration of their time by a years service apiece to their said masters and that none of them shall be released from their Irons without order from this Board.

   *****Oct. 17, 1640.              

Wheras we are daily given to understand of divers servants that run away from their masters whereby much loss and prejudice doth ensue to the masters of such servants, the court therefore conceiving it to be the most necessary and speedy course to apprehend the said servants doth order that upon complaint thereof made unto the sheriffs of the counties where any such servant or servants doth run away that the sheriff thereof or hisdeputies shall hereby have power to hire boat and hands to persue the said runaways and that the charge thereof shall be borne and defrayed by the said county. EO

Day 6 : The Economic Value of Servants and Slaves
Objective: Analyze a primary source to identify the classification of labor before the slave codes made slavery legal.
Materials: poster or overhead of Labor Owned by James Stone, 1648, York

Student copies


What is this document? What does it prove? How is the value of the labor determined?

What is the unit of measure? How are the people classified? Why is this significant?

Why are some laborers valued higher than others? What questions do you have about this document?

Take five minutes and record these thoughts in your journal before discussion.


Where was this document located?

What purpose was it filed for?

Teacher Notes: The class needs to notice that not all the people have an amount of time to serve. The value of the laborers was calculated in Tobacco. The men were valued more than the woman. The Negro men did not have a time to serve next to their names. Their value was higher to James Stone than the value of the servants that would be with him for 3-6 more years. The woman’s value was the lowest. This document shows that Negro’s were being kept for life without slavery codes being legal. Also, Mingo and Emaniell do not have last names. Workers who stayed for life were more economically valuable.
Final Assessment: The final activity is a response in your journal to the following questions: Could the Barefoot be an indentured servant or a slave or both? Use the information you have about slaves and indentured servants to support your thinking. Who does heavy boots represent? Explain why Barefoot is running away and heavy boots is chasing him. Use descriptive words, strong verbs and details from the readings to support your thinking.

Journal conclusion: Teacher Notes

The Barefoot could be either an indentured servant or a slave. Both ran away and were retrieved and punished. Looking at the many ads for runaways, some were servants while others were slaves. Many servants were abused as Elizabeth Sprig testifies. As the Federal Project makes clear some masters were kinder than others. Whippings, hard labor, lack of food and clothing were all reasons for running away.

If the entire unit is being completed, this journal selection will have even more meaning after reading the runaway ads and court minutes. Heavy Boots is after the runaway because the servants and the slaves are valuable economic assets to him. Heavy Boots represents the master, the colonial authorities and later the slave hunters.
Have students share their journal entries and any final thoughts. Have students share how working with the primary sources helped them to understand is greater depth than just reading historical fiction.

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