ISO: Did Colonial Printers Profit from Slavery?
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I am working on a book about the relationship between Benjamin Franklin and his business partner and friend, James Parker. Among the areas I am exploring are how both had owned slaves. Parker was in New York City in 1741, for example, and may have been around for at least parts of the so-called slave conspiracy. Later, Parker would pay off a debt to Franklin by sending him a slave named George. I have two questions that I was hoping to find answers to here.
1)When an ad for selling, buying, or returning runaway slaves ran in colonial newspapers, they were often concluded with “Apply to the Printer,” or “Inquire of the Printer,” etc. I presume the printer was acting as a go-between between the advertiser and prospective buyer/seller. My question is how was this handled financially? Did the advertiser pay for the ad up-front, or only if they sold/bought a slave? Did the printer get a commission for a successful transaction?
2)In a 1759 broadside protesting a NY provincial stamp act, James Parker complained how printers “cannot well teach Negroes our Trade; but [we] are obliged to work like Negroes, and in general are esteemed but little better, on many Accounts.” Did colonial era printers use slave labor, even peripherally if not in typesetting or operating the press? I would think the apprenticeship and journeyman system provided that labor, but could Parker have used a slave for more menial tasks in the print shop proper (as distinct from his home)?