The "Roots" of One of America's Best-Known Slaves
Advertisements for the sale of slaves appeared regularly in colonial newspapers. Alex Haley, author of Roots (1976), was able to document the arrival of his ancestor, Kuntae Kinte, in Annapolis from West Africa through this advertisement published in the Maryland Gazette in October 1767. Kinte’s saga of freedom, enslavement, and perseverance has come to represent a legacy shared by millions of Americans of African descent.
The subscribers in the advertisement, John Ridout and Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, held prominent positions in the provincial government. Ridout was Royal Governor Horatio Sharpe's personal secretary. Jenifer served in both houses of the provincial assembly, as president of the Council of Safety, and the first president of the Maryland Senate, and oversaw the state's finances in the years after the Revolution.