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Humanities Forum

Annual Robert K. Webb Lecture, October 23, 2018
“Thinks Himself Free”: Escaped Slaves in Eighteenth-Century Britain
Simon P. Newman, Sir Denis Brogan Professor of American History, University of Glasgow

There were thousands of enslaved people in eighteenth-century Britain, brought from around the world by colonists, merchants, planters, clergymen, government officials, and officers. While valued for their labor, these enslaved men, women, and, most especially, children, served as symbols of the success of their masters. This lecture will explore the attempts at escape of some of those enslaved men, women, and children. Drawing on runaway slave advertisements in British newspapers, the lecture will show that although enslavement in Britain appeared mild when compared with the horrors of New World slavery, masters and mistresses continued to believe they held the enslaved as chattel property.


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