Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

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Runaway Slaves and the Making of Georgia
by Moffett, Anthony F., Ph.D., University of Florida, 2015, 267; 13847482
Abstract (Summary)

This project investigates the enslaved runaways of colonial Georgia and their impact on the Atlantic world. It argues that the runaways’ actions must be understood more than as a function of slave-master relations or work regimes. Rather, this work views runaways at both ends of the flight continuum. On one end was the act of fleeing. The study chronicles who the runaways were, as well as when, how and from where they fled, as well as their intended destination. At the other end of the spectrum is how the numerous acts of running away affected the broader society. Their methods of flight evolved, often coinciding with opportunities in their environment such as the chaos of the American Revolution. Their actions altered the direction of Georgia and swayed the broader geopolitics of the southeast.

Georgia will be the focus of the study for a few reasons. Foremost, Georgia was founded as an anti-slavery colony. Its geographical location was determined in part by the need for a buffer zone to hinder runaway slaves from South Carolina who sought refuge in Spanish Florida. The constant influx of fugitive slaves directed the use of labor and the militias of both Georgia and South Carolina which routinely pursued runaways, even into Florida. Therefore, runaway slaves arguably influenced Georgia more than any other of the original Thirteen Colonies.

Advertisements for runaway slaves in colonial newspapers supply the primary source of information. They provide useful data such as the fugitives’ gender, approximate age, occupational skills, and previous history of absconding. After slavery became legal in Georgia in 1750, the transatlantic slave trade brought thousands of Africans to the colony, many of whom are listed in runaway advertisements. By merging the profiles of the runaways into the broader literature of Georgia and the southeast, I argue that often the act of running away was as much a determinant to the development of the lowcountry as it was a reaction against slavery.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Adler, Jeffrey
Commitee: Adler, Jeffrey, Gallman, Matthew J., Sensbech, Jon, Spring, Arista, White, Luise
School: University of Florida
Department: History
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-A 77/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Black history, American history
Keywords: Florida, Fugitive slaves, Georgia, Runaway slaves, Slave agency, Slave resistance
Publication Number: 13847482
ISBN: 9780438947375
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