Virginia Runaway Slave Ads

This Virginia Runaway Slave Ads lesson plan also includes:

What does an ad reveal about a culture, or about the values of its intended audience? Class members examine a series of runaway slave ads—one of which was written by Thomas Jefferson—and consider what these primary source documents reveal about the social, economic, and cultural values of 18th and 19th century America.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas

  • Include the lesson in a study of American slavery, Thomas Jefferson, and the Fugitive Slave Act
  • As a corollary reading, provide class members with the chapter from Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos' Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science that discusses Jefferson's role in the refusal to recognize the Haitian Revolution
  • Ask class members to consider what the speakers' tone of voice reveals about their attitudes
Classroom Considerations

  • Ensure that a culture has been established that permits a safe, respectful discussion of controversial issues

  • The packet includes transcripts and recordings of the ads
  • The activity requires class members to think critically about Jefferson as a slaveholder and as the author of the Declaration of Independence

Common Core