N-Grams 1852

Many words that passed through the program produced predictable results. ‘County’ most often occurred with ‘said’ and ‘Texas,’ and the word ‘said’ usually was used before a noun; i.e. ‘said slave’ or ‘said negro.’

The most interesting words were descriptive adjectives like ‘complexion,’ ‘color,’ ‘copper,’ ‘negro,’ and ‘black.’ They did not occur as might have been expected.

Complexion was used more often than Color to describe the skin tone of each runaway. The words connected to it varied more and thus it was more applicable to each individual. Color, however, was always preceded by the word ‘copper’ to indicate a copper skin tone.

Black was used more often than most other colors, most often associated with a word like complexion or color. However, it was once used directly with the word ‘boy’ – a deviation from the common description of each runaway as a “negro ‘boy/man.’

Other words that we hoped to find influential in our research like ‘Mexico’ were infrequently used. Out of all 17 ads collected for 1852 from the Clarksville Northern Standard, the Telegraph and Texas Register, and the Texas State Gazette, the word ‘Mexico’ appeared only twice. However, both times it was used in ways that we had hoped for – as a prediction by the slave-holder on which direction the runaway would go. Both times the usage was speculative. The slave would either go to their previous home stateĀ or make their way to Mexico. This tied in with our original hypothesis when asking our research questions, so definitely a positive find.