Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 10181701

State: Alabama Year: 1817

Abstract: Slaveholder William B. Burney was murdered by a slave. He died intestate, and one-half of his property, including seven "Negroes of different ages and sires," escheated to the territory. Mary Burney, the widow, claiming that "the greater part of their Property was obtained and accumulated" by their "joint industry and economy," asks that the government not deprive an "Aged Widow of Property she had laboured with her deceased husband to acquire."

PAR Number 10183901

State: Alabama Year: 1839
Location: Tuscaloosa Location Type: County

Abstract: Free man of color William Lewis asks for permission to remain in Alabama. Lewis explains in his petition that after the death of her owner, his wife, a slave, was taken to Alabama. Lewis followed her there. He notes that they have been married ten years and that he is skilled in the "Carpenter's and House-joiner's business." He adds that he has "always demeaned himself humbly and respectfully toward all persons, having been taught that the only way to pass through life smoothly was to attend to his own business." Affidavits by several white residents of the county attest to William Lewis's impeccable moral character and industriousness.

PAR Number 10185701

State: Alabama Year: 1857
Location: Coffee Location Type: County

Abstract: Seventy-seven white citizens of Coffee County seeks residency status for Narcissa Daniel, a "free colored girl about seventeen years of age," who had come to Alabama from Georgia with Allen Daniel, "a highly Respectable" citizen. Narcissa, the petitioners claim, was the "offspring of a white woman of high family." Mrs. Daniel was her best friend and Narcissa would prefer a "state of bondage to that of separation."

PAR Number 10583701

State: Florida Year: 1837

Abstract: The uncle and guardian of a slaveholding minor asks permission to take several slaves belonging to his niece from the Florida Territory to the Republic of Texas. The guardian, James Patterson, was moving there with his family and wished to take his niece with him.

PAR Number 11000001

State: Mississippi
Location: Wilkinson Location Type: County

Abstract: The petitioner states that he is the guardian of the three minor siblings of his wife--Amanda, William, and Gillian Mitchell. He asks authorization to move the children with their property, including six slaves, to Louisiana. Among the slaves, only one is an adult. The mother of the minors supports the move, noting that their stepfather is irresponsible and not willing to "take Charge" of her children's slaves.

PAR Number 11000016

State: Mississippi
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: A free man of color named Malachi Hagins states that he is descended from several generations of free ancestors. His grandmother was a white woman, and his father died in the American Revolution fighting on behalf of the "Revolted Colonies." Hagins notes that he moved to Mississippi twenty-two years ago, married a white woman, fathered nine children, and acquired land, cattle, and nine slaves. He is now subject to being driven from his country and having his property confiscated and his life put in jeopardy "for want of the guardian protection of the Laws of the Land." He asks for an act to give him "security & protection, such rights and liberties" as the legislature might deem "humane, politick and right."

PAR Number 11082306

State: Mississippi Year: 1823
Location: Monroe Location Type: County

Abstract: John Smith and George Meaders, executors of the estate of Lawson Thompson, seek an act of emancipation for slaves named in Thompson's will. They say that Thompson "removed to the western Country for the express purpose of securing to them [his slaves] their freedom."

PAR Number 11082404

State: Mississippi Year: 1824
Location: Monroe Location Type: County

Abstract: John Smith and George Meaders, executors of the estate of the late Lawson Thompson, seek an act of emancipation for certain slaves named in Thompson's will. During the past year "some improper claims" were advanced by the heirs, they assert, but these should have no bearing on the emancipation of the slaves. Smith and Meaders explain to the court that, by asking for the slaves' emancipation, they are conforming to the wishes of the late Thompson, who not only couched his desire to free his slaves in his will but often expressed it during his lifetime. In his will, Thompson also directed that land be purchased for the freed slaves out of his estate.

PAR Number 11082802

State: Mississippi Year: 1828
Location: Warren Location Type: County

Abstract: In his last will and testament, Thomas P. Ferguson freed his "man servant Reuben" for the "faithfull and great service, rendered to him in sickness and in health." The will also stipulated that, should the executor fail to achieve his emancipation, Reuben should become the property of Thomas's sister, Martha. The latter is now moved to "renew the call for an act of emancipation made by the executor two sessions since." She wishes to honor her brother's wishes and Reuben's "extraordinary fidelity."

PAR Number 11082901

State: Mississippi Year: 1829
Location: Wayne Location Type: County

Abstract: Rebecca Jones, a widow and the guardian of her five daughters, Vina, Darling, Polly, Emily, and Catherine, asks permission to take the minors' property to Alabama. The property consists of a few head of cattle and a female slave.

PAR Number 11082902

State: Mississippi Year: 1829
Location: Franklin Location Type: County

Abstract: A resident of West Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Dempsey Cain is the guardian of his nephew, whose estate is located in Mississippi. He asks permission to bring "a Number of Valuable Slaves" belonging to his nephew, a minor, into Louisiana, where "he will be able so to manage and transact the business of said Ward as to make his Estate produce a greater profit." In the part of Louisiana where he lived the labor of slaves is, Dempsey claims, "more valuable and productive" than in Mississippi.

PAR Number 11184603

State: Missouri Year: 1846

Abstract: The Hanson family--James, John, and Martha--ask to bring inherited term slaves from Maryland into Missouri despite the law that permits importation only of slaves for life. The six slaves, ranging in age from seventeen to twenty-eight, were to be free when they reached age thirty-five. Being currently hired out by an agent, the slaves and their children did not receive the attention "that they would naturally receive from those who would feel an interest in and for them."

PAR Number 11280804

State: North Carolina Year: 1808
Location: Chatham Location Type: County

Abstract: Abandoned by her husband, who "went off to the Western Country," Milly Farrar confides that she and her infant child are "destitute of any Means of Support Other than she might procure by her labour." She laments that when John lay "aside all paternal affections, and the more engaging ties of a husband," he nonetheless retained the "four Negroes, which were given her by her Father." She therefore prays that "Such property as She may hereafter Acquire" be secured to her.

PAR Number 11381906

State: South Carolina Year: 1819
Location: Sumter Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: William Vaughn explains that he "removed with Twelve of his Negroes to the Alabama Territory, on the 2nd Decr 1818; his minor son remained in South Carolina where he served "as his agent." Vaughn states that his said son "neglected to make a return to the Tax Collector, in the time prescribed by Law, in consequence of which failure, he was double Taxed on his Negroes remaining in this state & on his Land & treble taxed on the Twelve Negroes removed to the Western Country." Citing that he paid taxes on said slaves in Alabama, the petitioner asks that he be credited $17.35, "the usual tax on said property."

PAR Number 11381907

State: South Carolina Year: 1819
Location: Sumter Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: William Vaughn explains that he "removed with Twelve of his Negroes to the Alabama Territory, on the 2nd Decr 1818; his minor son remained in South Carolina where he served "as his agent." Vaughn states that his said son "neglected to make a return to the Tax Collector, in the time prescribed by Law, in consequence of which failure, he was double Taxed on his Negroes remaining in this state & on his Land & treble taxed on the Twelve Negroes removed to the Western Country." Citing that he paid taxes on said slaves in Alabama, the petitioner asks that he be credited $17.35, "the usual tax on said property."

PAR Number 11481917

State: Tennessee Year: 1819

Abstract: Forty-five petitioners seek “to meliorate the condition, of that unfortunate race of people, called SLAVES.” They suggest that masters who free their blacks give them "a lease on lands for years, free of rent, charge and taxes, with provisions adequate for the first year, with a limited portion of stock and articles of husbandry." They further propose that any "unprincipled and designing" men who attempt to deprive former slaves of their freedom should be indicted for a felony. The petitioners also assert that "the western country" might afford a suitable location freed slaves since there "the means of decent subsistence, are easily obtained, and distressing poverty is seldom seen."

PAR Number 11481920

State: Tennessee Year: 1819

Abstract: Forty-two petitioners seek “to meliorate the condition, of that unfortunate race of people, called SLAVES.” They suggest that masters who free their blacks give them "a lease on lands for years, free of rent, charge and taxes, with provisions adequate for the first year, with a limited portion of stock and articles of husbandry." They further propose that any "unprincipled and designing" men who attempt to deprive former slaves of their freedom should be indicted for a felony. The petitioners also assert that "the western country" might afford a suitable location freed slaves since there "the means of decent subsistence, are easily obtained, and distressing poverty is seldom seen."

PAR Number 11481921

State: Tennessee Year: 1819

Abstract: Forty-six petitioners seek “to meliorate the condition, of that unfortunate race of people, called SLAVES.” They suggest that masters who free their blacks give them "a lease on lands for years, free of rent, charge and taxes, with provisions adequate for the first year, with a limited portion of stock and articles of husbandry." They further propose that any "unprincipled and designing" men who attempt to deprive former slaves of their freedom should be indicted for a felony. The petitioners also assert that "the western country" might afford a suitable location freed slaves since there "the means of decent subsistence, are easily obtained, and distressing poverty is seldom seen."

PAR Number 11481923

State: Tennessee Year: 1819

Abstract: Two hundred ninety-two petitioners seek “to meliorate the condition, of that unfortunate race of people, called SLAVES.” They suggest that masters who free their blacks give them "a lease on lands for years, free of rent, charge and taxes, with provisions adequate for the first year, with a limited portion of stock and articles of husbandry." They further propose that any "unprincipled and designing" men who attempt to deprive former slaves of their freedom should be indicted for a felony. The petitioners also assert that "the western country" might afford a suitable location freed slaves since there "the means of decent subsistence, are easily obtained, and distressing poverty is seldom seen."

PAR Number 11482113

State: Tennessee Year: 1821
Location: Davidson Location Type: County

Abstract: David Johnson, executor of the late David Beaty, reports that his testator devised to the slaves in his possession "their entire freedom and the settlement of them" on "lands in the Indiana Territory." He further represents that Anne Hope, the sister of said Beaty, "filed an Injunction Bill against your petitioner in the Supreme court of Errors and Appeals ... whereby your petitioner was injoined from taking the said negroes beyond the limits of the state of Tennessee and emancipating them, or emancipating them in the state of Tennessee." Johnson reveals that a ruling was rendered whereby "your petitioner should be allowed the term of twelve months from the date of the decree, to procure the emancipation of said slaves by any legal means whatever." The petitioner begs "leave to suggest, that he has been advised that the provisions made by law relative to the emancipation of slaves in general, are inadequate to the carrying into effect said last will and testament; as they require a petition for the emancipation of slaves, to be exhibited to the court, setting forth meritorious services &C, and that that is the only ground upon which the court can legally exercise their power in such cases." Johnson therefore prays that an act be passed “declaring the said slaves and their increase, free.”

PAR Number 11482202

State: Tennessee Year: 1822
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: William McClure accuses his wife, Rebecca Smith McClure, of cohabiting and having "sexual & carnal intercourse with a certain negro fellow Slave by name of Taff formerly the slave of your petitioner." McClure discloses that "for six months last past the said Rebecca has been Indulging at all times of the absence of her husband from home with the said negro slave, that she took him to your petitioners house and did so openly." Stating that his wife "has gone to the state of Illinois, hoping her said paramour may abscond & there indulge her wicked & debased desires," the petitioner prays that he be granted a divorce.

PAR Number 11482204

State: Tennessee Year: 1821
Location: Davidson Location Type: County

Abstract: Robert Johnson, executor of the late David Beatty, reminds the legislature that his testator devised freedom to the slaves in his possession at the time of his death and requested that they be settled in the Indiana Territory. He further reports that Beatty's sister, Ann Hope, filed suit to prevent said emancipation and that said "contest was finally determined in favour of the will," allowing "your petitioner one year from that time to use every legal means to procure the emancipation of the negroes." Beset by ill health, Johnson admits that several months elapsed before he could proceed but he states that when "he was ready to remove those unfortunate persons to Indianna, and that anxious hope which they had so long indulged in [was] about to be consummated, they were yet doomed to further disapointment." He declares that "the son of Mrs Ann Hope came in the night time to where the negroes were ... and forcibly & Secretly took them away, carried them off and concealed them from your petitioner." Johnson, having regained possession of said slaves, now submits that Ann Hope and friends have suggested "that if by such means your petitioner should procure the freedom of said Slaves they will make him responsible out of his own estate ... for the value of them." Avowing that “nothing Stands opposed to the just [demands] of these Slaves to their freedom but avarice ... which would sacrafice the liberty & happiness of these persons,” the petitioner commits the slaves to “your hands ... hoping that you will mete unto them that measure of Justice which you would have others measure unto you.”

PAR Number 11482506

State: Tennessee Year: 1825
Location: Campbell Location Type: County

Abstract: Benjamin Bratcher relates that his father, John Bratcher, gave him a slave named Cloe "and her increase except one Girl called Aggy" in 1803; the elder Bratcher, however, required that said Benjamin and his wife "move with me to the State of Tennessee." The petitioner complains that the said John "when on his death bed fraudulently gave a bill of sale of the said woman and her children to an Elder Brother." Bratcher asserts that he "is without any relief, unless the interposition of the Legislature."

PAR Number 11483328

State: Tennessee Year: 1833
Location: Franklin Location Type: County

Abstract: Susan Doolin seeks a divorce from her husband, Thomas Doolin. Susan confides that her said husband "has been guilty of Acts & deeds [inconsistent] with the marriage Vow" and that he "has been guilty of Adultry With indecent & lewd women." She further submits that "his own relations to me [stated] that he had in a carnal way kept & made use of a Negro girl that belongd to me,--the Negro says the same." Stating that "he left some time in the month of April last & told me that he never intended to live with me again," the petitioner prays "that your honourable body would pass a law divorcing her from her said husband."

PAR Number 11483330

State: Tennessee Year: 1833
Location: Davidson Location Type: County

Abstract: William G. Harding, the guardian of the only child of the late William Harding, asks permission to sell Maria and her six children to Texas-bound Daniel Maurice Harding, owner of Maria's husband. The petitioner states that he "believes it would be to the interest of the infant to make the sale," as "the whole family are an Expense." Harding further reveals that "the said family of children are not healthy and two of them are afflicted one with white swelling and the other with scrofula."

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