By mid-century, slavery had become the central, defining institution of southern cultural and economic life. As slavery became more entrenched in southern society, so too did the everyday resistance of African-Americans. Slaves resisted the regimen of work by feigning ignorance, breaking tools, or injuring animals. By forming communities and maintaining familial ties as best they could, slaves asserted their humanity in the face of the dehumanizing effects of bondage. Running away also remained an important form of resistance. This icon, or symbol, appeared on notices about fugitive slaves in the classified section of the Mobile, Alabama, Commercial Register in the 1830s.
Source: Richard Brough, Commercial Advertiser, June 16, 1832—Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.