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$200 Reward: Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847
Courtesy of State Historical Society of Iowa, W.M. Russell, 1 October 1847


After a person escaped enslavement, many relied on northern whites to lead them safely to the northern free states and to Canada. It was very dangerous to be a formerly-enslaved person. There were rewards for their capture, and advertisements like the reward poster here described people in detail. This reward poster from 1847 described five formerly-enslaved people: a man, his wife and his three children. Whenever a northerner led a group of enslaved people to freedom, they placed themselves in great danger, too. 

Transcript of the $200 Reward Poster for Formerly-Enslaved People

Source-Dependent Questions

  • Why was this document written? Provide evidence from the document supporting why you think the document was created.
  • This document reflects the way slave owners viewed their enslaved people as property. Identify examples from the document that reflect this view.
  • How would the specificity of the descriptions of enslaved people in the document make the work of the Underground Railroad more challenging?