Newspapers and Slavery

The daily life and experiences of enslaved African Americans received very little coverage in Georgia's newspapers, save for one notable exception: advertisements that offered rewards for the return of self-liberated African Americans. These "fugitive slave ads" were a major source of income for newspaper publishers in Georgia and can be traced back to the first issue of the Georgia Gazette in 1763, which included several notices offering rewards for the return of fugitives from slavery. The purpose of the ads was to provide a description suitable for the identification and recapture of enslaved people. As a result, they often included detailed descriptions, including names, ages, physical descriptions, family members, methods of escape, skills, life experiences, and even places of birth—information that provides a valuable record of enslavement and its grisly toll. They also commonly included descriptions of scars and injuries, illustrating the abuse suffered by many of those seeking freedom. The ubiquity of these ads in Georgia newspapers demonstrates both the economic impact of slavery in the antebellum South and the widespread determination among the enslaved to experience a life free from bondage.