Friday, May 6, 2011

Guinea Marks (Virgnia Gazette, 6-12-1779)

Conner, a slave who jumped ship from the Jean at Urbanna, Virginia, in the summer of 1779, was almost certainly a native African. Owner Henry Butterfield noted that Conner was "remarkable black" and bore "the Guinea marks [tattoos] on each of his temples," but that he was fluent in English. Conner's clothing was also notable in its adherence to American standards, and he "appeared much like a sailor." He wore "long trousers with one pocket" and a "thick blue sea jacket patched with canvass." Wherever Conner ended up, his adaptability made him as prepared as anyone to confront the dangers and complexities of life among the lower sort in early America.

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