Will

TRANSCRIPTION: Absented  himself from the subscriber, a tall, slim, yellow skin negro man named WILL, about twenty years of age; he has lost an upper tooth, has a scar just above one of his wrist, and plays very well on the fiddle; he had on when he went away, a brownish coat with yellow metal buttons. Whoever will apprehend him shall receive THREE DOLLARS reward. ABRAHAM-WHITE HARRIS

It is speculated that Will was of significant value to the person putting out the advertisement. The physical description mentions his light skin complexion, and his young age. Also, they do not mention that he has “Run away” but rather “He went away”, like he just went on a quick walk. We speculate that this is kind of like a euphemism they used to lessen the severity of the situation maybe to let persons know to not be too angry with the run away and subsequently to be not too harsh with his treatment if apprehended. The subscriber’s mention of the fiddle playing abilities of the young man also suggests that he is very talented and skilled.

Some further questions one might have regarding this ad might be:

  • Where did Will learn this skill?
  • Was he taught?
  • Was he the child of a slave and a slave owner? Hence his light skin colour.
  • Did he learn the fiddle as a result of his “privilege”?
  • The subscriber does not mention exactly the positions of the scars (wrist and missing tooth), but they do know that the scars do exist. How do they know that they exist? Why do the injuries exist?
  • Also, they do not mention a last name. Why is that?
  • Also, his clothing sounds expensive. Why is he in possession of this?
  • The reward is also kind of large (amounting to about US$83 in present day value). Why allocate this amount?

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