Black Slavery in the Maritimes: A History in Documents
(From the Broadview Sources Series)
  • Publication Date: May 3, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781554813865 / 1554813867
  • 168 pages; 7" x 9"

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Black Slavery in the Maritimes: A History in Documents

(From the Broadview Sources Series)

  • Publication Date: May 3, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781554813865 / 1554813867
  • 168 pages; 7" x 9"

Many thousands of black people were enslaved in the Maritimes, Quebec, and Upper Canada between the seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries. It is not surprising that slavery played a part in Canadian history, but it is startling that it has not received widespread attention from the general Canadian public or from historians. This sourcebook collects a variety of documents, including runaway-slave advertisements, letters, court cases, and official government documents, offering readers an opportunity to explore black slavery in the Maritimes and revise their understanding of Canadian history.

A percentage of the revenue from this book’s sales will be donated to the Black Cultural Society for Nova Scotia.


“Harvey Amani Whitfield, the leading authority on slavery in the Maritime provinces, here provides an extraordinary collection of documents on the subject. The cruelty of slavery, the harms that it did to enslaved and free Black people, and the myriad forms of slave resistance are fully on display, as much in banal deeds of sale as in powerful first-person accounts by slaves and former slaves.” — Elsbeth Heaman, Department of History, McGill University

Black Slavery in the Maritimes is a welcome and impressive addition to the historiography of slavery in Canada, and vitally necessary for school curricula. Teachers will find this sourcebook useful, as it is a ‘hands on’ tour of slavery in Canada. Additionally, scholars of Black Canadian history, both inside and outside the academy, will be delighted to have this sourcebook in hand.” — Afua Cooper, James Robinson Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies, Dalhousie University

“Not only does Black Slavery in the Maritimes provide a sourcebook that will be of enormous educational value, but it is also an exceptional work of scholarship. Whitfield combines clear-sighted historical expertise with deeply humane insights, notably in the general and sectional introductions and in the poignant commentaries on each document. This is a documentary history of rare quality.” — John G. Reid, Department of History, Saint Mary’s University

“This remarkable collection of documents makes undeniable the everyday reality of Black slavery in the early Maritimes. Whitfield’s introduction and document glosses provide critical historical background while still reserving to the reader a sense of discovery about slavery and its penetration into diverse social, economic, legal, and political aspects of Maritime culture.” — Elizabeth Mancke, Canada Research Chair in Atlantic Canada Studies, University of New Brunswick

Questions to Consider


  • 1. Halifax Slaves for Sale in Boston, Massachusetts (1751)
  • 2. Slaves for Sale, Halifax, Nova Scotia (1752)
  • 3. Runaway Slave Advertisement, Female Slave Named Thursday, Nova Scotia (1772)
  • 4. Slave Wanted Advertisement, Nova Scotia (1776)
  • 5. Female Slave to Be Sold at Public Auction, Nova Scotia (1783)
  • 6. Runaway Advertisement, James, Nova Scotia (1781 and 1786)
  • 7. Runaway Slave Advertisement, An African Slave, Nova Scotia (1783)
  • 8. Runaway Slave Advertisement, Dick, Nova Scotia (1783)
  • 9. Runaway Slave Advertisement, Ben, Nova Scotia (1783)
  • 10. Slave for Sale, “Negro Boy,” New Brunswick (1784)
  • 11. Runaway Slave Advertisement, Hector, New Brunswick (1784)
  • 12. Runaway Advertisement, Unfree Black Laborers, New Brunswick (1784)
  • 13. Runaway Slave Advertisement, Jupiter and Clarinda, Nova Scotia (1784)
  • 14. A Family Escapes, Nova Scotia (1785)
  • 15. Slave for Sale Advertisement, 14-Year-Old, Nova Scotia (1786)
  • 16. Slave for Sale Advertisement, 14-Year-Old Boy, New Brunswick (1786)
  • 17. Slaves for Sale Advertisement, A Man and Boy, New Brunswick (1786)
  • 18. Runaway Slave Advertisement, Ben, New Brunswick (1786)
  • 19. Runaway Slave Advertisement, Five Slaves Escape Caleb Jones, New Brunswick (1786)
  • 20. Runaway Slave Advertisement, Dinah, Nova Scotia (1786)
  • 21. Slave for Sale Advertisement, Teenage Girl, New Brunswick (1787)
  • 22. Slave for Sale Advertisement, Young Woman, New Brunswick (1787)
  • 23. Runaway Slave Advertisement, Sam and Beller (siblings) Escape, New Brunswick (1787)
  • 24. Runaway Slave Advertisement, Abraham, Teenager, New Brunswick (1787)
  • 25. Runaway Slave Advertisement, London, Age 18, New Brunswick (1787)
  • 26. Runaway Slave Advertisement, Keziah, New Brunswick (1787)
  • 27. Slave for Sale Advertisement, Young Black Woman, New Brunswick (1788)
  • 28. Runaway Slave Advertisement, Prince, New Brunswick (1788)
  • 29. Runaway Slave Advertisement, Poll, New Brunswick (1791)
  • 30. Runaway Slave Advertisement, Statia and Her Family, New Brunswick (1792)
  • 31. Runaway Slave Advertisement, Prince, New Brunswick (1792)
  • 32. Runaway Slave Advertisement, Joseph Odel and Peter Lawrence, Nova Scotia (1792)
  • 33. Runaway Slave Advertisement, Bill/Belfast, Nova Scotia (1794)
  • 34. Slave for Sale, Young Man, New Brunswick (1799)
  • 35. Runaway Slave Advertisement, Gill and Dick, New Brunswick (1799)
  • 36. Female Sold for a Term of Years, Nova Scotia (1800)
  • 37. Runaway Slave Advertisement, Two Slaves, New Brunswick (1802)
  • 38. Runaway Slave Advertisement, Dinah, New Brunswick (1806)
  • 39. Slave for Sale, Nancy, New Brunswick (1809)
  • 40. Runaway Slave Advertisement, Lidge Escapes Again, New Brunswick (1816)
  • 41. Runaway Advertisement, Samuel Hutchings, New Brunswick (1818)


  • 42. John Wentworth Letter about His 19 Slaves, Nova Scotia (1784)
  • 43. Petition of Zimri Armstrong about Re-enslavement, New Brunswick (1785)
  • 44. James MacGregor, A Letter to a Clergyman Urging him to set free a Black Girl he held in SLAVERY, Nova Scotia (1788)
  • 45. Petition of Thomas Peters to the British Government (1790)
  • 46. John Clarkson’s Diary, Lydia Jackson’s Re-enslavement and Other Observations (1791)
  • 47. Thomas Clarkson, “Some Account of the New Colony at Sierra Leone,” Re-enslavement (1792)
  • 48. David George’s Narrative (1793)
  • 49. Boston King’s Narrative (1798)
  • 50. Gradual Emancipation of Jack and Amelia in Prince Edward Island (1800)
  • 51. Joseph Aplin’s Racial Justification for Slavery (1801)
  • 52. Excerpts from Opinions of Several Gentlemen of the Law, on the Subject of Negro Servitude in the Province of Nova-Scotia (1802)
  • 53. Digby Slave-Owners’ Petition, Nova Scotia (1807)
  • 54. Petition of Isaac Willoughby, Former Slave, Nova Scotia (1834)
  • 55. Article Supporting Slavery and Decrying Free Blacks, Nova Scotia (1842)


  • 56. Bill of Sale, Young Boy from Maryland, Nova Scotia (1779)
  • 57. Bill of Sale, Mintur (1779)
  • 58. R. v. Jesse Gray, for Whipping Pero 100 Times, Nova Scotia (1786)
  • 59. Mary Postell Affidavit, Nova Scotia (1791)
  • 60. Grand Jury Complaint, Re-enslavement of Black Boy Sent to the West Indies Illegally, Nova Scotia (1794)
  • 61. James DeLancey Complaint Against William Woodin (1803)
  • 62. Supreme Court Case “Nancy,” New Brunswick (1800)
  • 63. Ward Chipman’s Slavery Brief, New Brunswick Supreme Court (1800)
  • 64. R. v. Andrews (Indictment of Samuel Andrews Jr.), Slave-Owners Murder a Female Slave, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia (1801)
  • 65. Slave Returned to Owner, Supreme Court, Prince Edward Island (1802)
  • 66. Bill of Sale for Percilla, Eight-Year-Old Girl, Nova Scotia (1804)
  • 67. Supreme Court Case, Newspaper Account, New Brunswick (1806)


  • 68. Governor Cornwallis Discusses Captain Bloss and His Slaves (1750)
  • 69. An Act, declaring that Baptism of SLAVES shall not exempt them from BONDAGE, Prince Edward Island (1781)
  • 70. Book of Negroes
  • 71. Dick Hill, Re-Enslaved, Shelburne, Nova Scotia (1787)
  • 72. An Act for the Regulation & Relief of the Free Negroes within the Province of Nova Scotia (Unpassed) (1789)
  • 73. A Bill Relating to Negroes (Unpassed), New Brunswick (6 February 1801)
  • 74. AN ACT to repeal an Act made and passed in the twenty-first year of his late Majesty’s reign intituled “An Act, declaring that Baptism of SLAVES shall not exempt them from BONDAGE,” Prince Edward Island (1825)
  • 75. Prince Edward Island and Montserrat Connection (1828)


  • 76. Will of Joseph Totten, Nova Scotia (1788)
  • 77. Will of Thomas Leonard, Nova Scotia (1788)
  • 78. Will of Anna Lillie (or Ann Lilie), Nova Scotia (1789)
  • 79. Teenage Slave Diana Bastian Burial Note—Her Rape and Pregnancy by George More, Member of Council, Cape Breton (1792)
  • 80. Will of Caleb Fowler, Nova Scotia (1793)
  • 81. Will of George Cornwall, Nova Scotia (1799)
  • 82. Will of Jacob Ellegood, New Brunswick (1802)
  • 83. Will of Benjamin Belcher, Nova Scotia (1801)
  • 84. Will of Jacob Troop, Nova Scotia (1805)
  • 85. Will of Isaac Bonnell, Nova Scotia (1806)
  • 86. Will of William Wanton, New Brunswick (1812)
  • 87. Will of William Schurman, Prince Edward Island (1819)

Suggested Readings

Harvey Amani Whitfield is Professor of United States and Canadian history at the University of Vermont. His previous books include North to Bondage: Loyalist Slavery in the Maritimes, Blacks on the Border: The Black Refugees in British North America, 1815–1860, and The Problem of Slavery in Early Vermont, 1777–1810.

  • — The first sourcebook to chronicle the history of black slavery in the Maritimes.
  • — 87 primary source documents, including letters, court cases, slave advertisements, and government records.
  • — A substantial introduction as well as headnotes and annotations guide the reader through the documents.
  • — All documents have been transcribed for legibility; photographic reproductions of several of them are also provided.