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The latest from H-SHEAR...

New free, digital open-access book on immigration, citizenship, legal rights, and national identity: Stranger Citizens

Dear H-Net readers: I am excited to announced the publication of my new book, both as a free, open-access e-book and in traditional print format! Feel free to share the announcement below with students, fellow scholars, friends, and anyone else who may be interested.

Stranger Citizens: Migrant Influence and National Power in the Early American Republic (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2021)

Re: Help with interpreting a quote?

Yes, I agree with Marissa Rhodes that Read could have been a point of contact for someone else, and I would guess that the seller was someone who did not live or have their own business in the area. I know next to nothing about 18th-century Philadelphia, but if I were analyzing this, my hunch would be that Read's shop was in a commercial area and thus convenient to men conducting business there. In that case, I would think that Read would receive more inquiries from potential buyers who were already in the neighborhood than someone in some more distant part of Philadelphia.

Re: Help with interpreting a quote?

Marissa, Thank you for the reply. After I posted my plea for help, I realized how poorly I worded my inquiry. However, you got at it perfectly. I initially interpreted the fact that Sarah Read was selling a slave meant that she owned it and was selling it for herself. Thus, my comment about her being successful. Then I second guessed myself. I am now realizing thanks to you and several other very helpful comments, that Sarah Read was likely simply the go-between, that she was advertising the slave for sale for someone else.

Re: Help with interpreting a quote?

I use newspaper advertisements extensively. I may need more information but from the brief quote you gave us, I’d comment that the business is serving as a contact for a classified ad. Someone associated with the business in some way (a relative of the owners, a customer, a friend) is selling a slave and they’re using the business as a go-between since the business likely always has someone there and it’s a public place so it’s safer to invite strangers there.