Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11483201

State: Tennessee Year: 1832
Location: Greene Location Type: County

Abstract: Henry Ripley seeks permission to emancipate Bill, a slave belonging to his late father. Ripley reports that said slave has been in his family for many years and that his father made arrangements for Bill to purchase his freedom from the proceeds accrued from hiring out himself. The petitioners note, however, "from the late act of Assembly on the subject of Emancipation, and the restrictive system adopted by other states, your memorialists discover that his just intentions of emancipating cannot be realized, unless said slave emigrates to Africa. To this alternative, in this instance, slavery would be prefered." They therefore pray "that an act of the General Assembly may be passed by which the said man Bill may be emancipated from slavery" and that he be allowed to remain in Tennessee.

PAR Number 11483204

State: Tennessee Year: 1832

Abstract: Deeming free man of color Zachariah Robinson "one of the most worthy and industrious & respectable among that Class of people," twenty-one citizens ask that Robinson and his family be granted residency in Tennessee. They submit that "as the said Zach. is desirous to have his children with him to reside in this state or to remove them to Liberia as they may all here after think proper." The petitioners therefore pray that "your Honl body repeal so much of said act as will authorize the following named persons children of ad Zach to remove this state ... William & Elbert his Sons & Nancy & Sally his Daughters."

PAR Number 11483206

State: Tennessee Year: 1832
Location: Carter Location Type: County

Abstract: Mary Humphreys requests that "a Family of yellow Slaves" be emancipated in accordance with the wishes of her late husband's last will and testament. She recounts that her husband Jesse "had raised up from their Infancy" the three children of Lucy and that the family had attended him for over ten years "most affectionately" in while in his "afflicted situation” and that they have run the farm and dairy with "Judgement and Economy" when, due to old age and infirmities, she has not been "able to help herself." The petitioner therefore prays "your Honorable body in your wisdom to pass a Law allowing said slaves ... at the death of your memorialist to be Emancipated." Humphreys also requests that Lucy and her family be allowed to remain in the state.

PAR Number 11483306

State: Tennessee Year: 1833

Abstract: One hundred sixty-eight members of the Tennessee State Colonization Society "invite your honourable body to a consideration and adoption of the means which shall be best calculated to effect the removal of our free coloured population in a manner consistent with the rights and interests of every portion and description of persons within the limits of this commonwealth." The petitioners deem it unnecessary "to enlarge on the disabilities and degradation necessarily entailed on the manumitted African, so long as he remains in the country where his colour will be regarded as the index of an inferior and servile caste." They therefore request "the reasonable interposition of legislative wisdom and counsels to save the commonwealth from the dangers and calamities threatened, and from all the difficulties and embarrassments which the population referred to may hereafter create" and recommend that free people of color in Tennessee be transported to the "flourishing colony of American Negroes [that] has been planted on the western coast of Africa."

PAR Number 11483307

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

Abstract: The Auxiliary Colonization Society of Franklin County supports the removal of free black people from Tennessee to Liberia. They state "that there are many free negroes in this State, and that their removal, in the opinion of your petitioners is highly important to the well being of the good people of the State, and is also desirable for the benefit it would confer upon the free negroes themselves." The petitioners argue that free people of color "are an ignorant and degraded race, & that although they are not Slaves, yet they have scarcely any of the privileges of the white population, and their associations must of necessity be among our slaves, by which their morals become corrupt." They therefore propose, with "motives of benevolence towards the free negroes themselves, and by a just regard to the quiet and good order of our domesticks, and by a regard for our own safety, from the dangers of insurrection," that "an appropriation of such portion of the publick monies, as in your wisdom may seem sufficient" be made and "placed under the direction of the Colonization Society."

PAR Number 11483323

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

Abstract: The Sumner County Colonization Society recommends the removal of free black people to Africa. They state that free people of color "are excluded from the ordinary means of education, on the ground of prejudices, which are quite natural, and which will probably never be removed" and that "the benefits of government" cannot be extended to them. In addition, they represent that "their intercourse and association with certain classes of our white population, is calculated to produce, and does produce, ... serious evils to the country. But the preceeding considerations are light, and trivial, when compared with the injury sustained by the slave holder, from this class of persons."

PAR Number 11485504

State: Tennessee Year: 1855
Location: Stewart Location Type: County

Abstract: Sixty-five-year-old Lizy joins her six grown children in requesting that the family be permitted to remain in Tennessee. They point out that they were formerly "the slaves of the late William Crouse," citing that "for many years prior to his death his mind was anxiously engaged upon the subject of emancipating your petitioners." They reveal, however, that they "fell into the hands of false and pretended friends," who kept them in bondage until they instituted a suit for their freedom in the chancery court in 1852; the court ruled in their favor and granted them freedom "upon the condition that they be sent out of the Country to the western coast of Affrica, as is provided by the act of the General Assembly of Tennessee passed 24 February 1854 during the pendency of their bill." Acknowledging the advanced age and infirmity of some of the family members, the petitioners pray that they be granted "the privilege of remaining citizens of Stewart County."

PAR Number 11485508

State: Tennessee Year: 1855
Location: Stewart Location Type: County

Abstract: Sixty-five-year-old Lizy joins her six grown children in requesting that the family be permitted to remain in Tennessee. They point out that they were formerly "the slaves of the late William Crouse," citing that "for many years prior to his death his mind was anxiously engaged upon the subject of emancipating your petitioners." The petitioners reveal, however, that they "fell into the hands of false and pretended friends," who kept them in bondage until they instituted a suit for their freedom in the chancery court in 1852; the court ruled in their favor and granted them freedom "upon the condition that they be sent out of the Country to the western coast of Affrica, as is provided by the act of the General Assembly of Tennessee passed 24 February 1854 during the pendency of their bill." Acknowledging the advanced age and infirmity of some of the family members, the petitioners pray that they be granted "the privilege of remaining citizens of Stewart County."

PAR Number 11485705

State: Tennessee Year: 1857

Abstract: Joseph Hunter represents that "he desires to free a boy of color by the name of Bill & as the Legislature of 1854-5 passed an act compelling all persons who desire to free their blacks to send them to Africa he would ask your Honorable body to pass a special act allowing him to free said boy & remain in this Country." Hunter states that Bill "does not want to leave this Country" as "his relations are all here," including a wife.

PAR Number 11486001

State: Tennessee Year: 1860
Location: Wilson Location Type: County

Abstract: Ninety-three residents of Wilson County "are satisfied that the Slave property of this State is seriously injured [by] the contact and association with the free negro population and that some legislation is absolutely necessary to remedy this evil." They believe that "the entire free negro population should be removed from the State" and that "no negro should be permitted to be liberated unless ample pecuniary provision be made for his immediate removal to Liberia." In their opinion, "the free negro population of this state is generally lazy worthless and engaged in trading with the slave race & injuring their morals & the property of the masters." The petitioners therefore "call upon your honorable body to enact such laws as will drive them from the state or that will secure the Slaveholders from the evil that now exists from the effect of the free negro population."

PAR Number 11486005

State: Tennessee Year: 1860
Location: Wilson Location Type: County

Abstract: Eighty-one residents of Wilson County "are satisfied that the Slave property of this State is seriously injured [by] the contact and association with the free negro population and that some legislation is absolutely necessary to remedy this evil." They believe that "the entire free negro population should be removed from the State" and that "no negro should be permitted to be liberated unless ample pecuniary provision be made for his immediate removal to Liberia." In their opinion, "the free negro population of this state is generally lazy worthless and engaged in trading with the slave race & injuring their morals & the property of the masters." The petitioners therefore "call upon your honorable body to enact such laws as will drive them from the state or that will secure the Slaveholders from the evil that now exists from the effect of the free negro population."

PAR Number 11682502

State: Virginia Year: 1825
Location: Richmond Location Type: City

Abstract: Members of the "Richmond & Manchester Auxiliary Society for Colonizing in Africa" seek support from the legislature for their "enterprize, which if it fail of effecting all that it proposes to accomplish, must, nevertheless, be regarded as praiseworthy: and if successfull, as your memorialists humbly trust, & believe, it will ultimately prove, must yield the greatest blessings, social, political and moral, both to Africa and America." They surmise, "in a few words borrowed from one of the Annual reports of the parent Society," that free people of color, being "placed midway between freedom and slavery, they know neither the incentives of the one, nor the restraints of the other; but are alike injurious by their conduct, & example, to all other classes of Society." Asserting that "the voyage to Liberia is not as long as to Brazil," they point out that "its cost to the emigrant passenger does not exceed twenty dollars," noting that "this sum to the free negro is the price of political liberty, of social happiness, of moral and religious improvement." Stating that "any aid the legislature may please to grant, in any mode its wisdom may prescribe, will be gratefully received & faithfully applied," they therefore suggest "that to furnish the emigrants with a few articles of coarse clothing, with farming utensils, and with such other articles manufactured in the State Penitentiary, as may be adapted to an infant Colony, will be of great & immediate utility to the Colonists, without imposing a burthen on the treasury."

PAR Number 11682604

State: Virginia Year: 1826
Location: Richmond Location Type: City

Abstract: The Colonization Society of Richmond and Manchester, an auxiliary of the American Colonization Society, seeks additional aid to "facilitate the emigration of free people of colour" to Africa. The petitioners inform the court that they "entertain a firm conviction that while this plan so far as it shall prove successful will greatly improve the condition of the emigrants, and of the African race, it is of deep interest to the people of the United States generally, and to those of the slave holding states particularly." At the last session of the legislature they presented their grounds for applying for such aid; they believe there is no need to "recapitulate" their arguments and they trust that "the benevolent spirit, the wise policy which operated with the last legislature and induced that honorable body to afford its countenance & aid to the great object of the Society remain undiminished, and will induce the present legislature to listen with favour to the application" for similar aid.

PAR Number 11682701

State: Virginia Year: 1827
Location: Richmond Location Type: City

Abstract: Members of the Colonization Society of Richmond and Manchester, an auxiliary of the American Colonization Society, represent to the legislature that "a few years only have elapsed since the formation of a settlement on the Coast of Africa, intended as a permanent and voluntary asylum for the free people color of the United States." According to the petitioners, the experiment, through the unaided efforts of a few benevolent individuals" has been "crowned with success." However, the effort needs assistance from the legislature. It is obvious, the petitioners assert, that existence of free blacks among the white population is a "positive evil" and their increase in numbers in proportion to the rest community has "more alarming in prospect," Even more so, they contend, now that the whole scheme is "likely to be frustrated" by the enemies of humanity. They ask that the legislature renew the same generous support that is has provided the Society in the past.

PAR Number 11682703

State: Virginia Year: 1827
Location: Powhatan Location Type: County

Abstract: The Powhatan County auxiliary of the American Colonization Society, through its president and secretary, asks the legislature to assist in prosecuting its plan to colonize free people of color in Africa. They request that the "whole subject of African Colonization be brought fully before the Legislature," examined, and "decided on according to its merits."

PAR Number 11682705

State: Virginia Year: 1827
Location: Prince George Location Type: County

Abstract: Billy, a free man of color, joins nine other free people of color, in representing that "by the will of Jane Barr ... they were all emancipated." They further declare that "it was made the duty of the Executor of the said will, if your Petitioners could lawfully remain in the state to purchase a piece of land for each of your Petitioners equal in value to one hundred dollars each"; if it were now lawful to remain in Virginia, the executor "should remove them to some other state where they might be free and purchase" said land for them there. The petitioners report "that Mrs. Barr's will was admitted to record in the year 1823" and that said Executor "has failed to give them the lands devised to them." Lamenting that "they are mere tenants at will of liberty and may be deprived of it at any moment by the Overseers of the Poor," the petitioners assert that, "should the General Assembly in its mercy think proper to permit them to remain in this State" after receiving their due legacy from said executor, "they will be able to reach the settlement on the coast of Africa of Free people of Color where they will most assuredly go if that settlement should continue to prosper & increase as it has heretofore." They therefore pray that they be permitted "to remain in this State as free persons until they can accomplish this."

PAR Number 11682706

State: Virginia Year: 1827
Location: Rockbridge Location Type: County

Abstract: Colonizing free people of color is "the safest and least objectionable mode of diminishing one of the greatest evils in our social condition," assert seventy-seven citizens of Rockbridge County. They petition to encourage the Virginia legislature--the first to propose colonizing the black population--to pursue the cause "with increasing energy."

PAR Number 11682804

State: Virginia Year: 1828
Location: Petersburg Location Type: City

Abstract: The Petersburg Auxiliary Colonization Society through its vice president and two of its secretaries seek assistance from the state in its efforts to strengthen the African settlement of emancipated slaves. The petitioners make their argument by first stating that the laws enacted to prevent the emancipation of slaves have been unsuccessful and by adding that they believe the "spirit" of free institutions so strong and so "deeply felt" that such laws will undoubtedly continue to be ineffective. Furthermore, they argue, the laws requiring emancipated slaves to leave the state are unrealistic. How can we expect, they contend, our sister states to harbor "a population which we know to be a nuisance" and which we refuse to receive from them. Shall we send emancipated slaves "beyond the Rocky mountains or to the shore of the Pacific," they ask. And then, what will happen when "the advancing tide of our population would reach them and sweep them before it?" Clearly only one solution remains, and that is to send them to the "land of their fathers." But the colony is still in its infancy and has not reach maturity. "Many persons, well fitted to become colonists, are anxious to go, but they are not able to incur the expence of the voyage, nor have we and our associates sufficient funds to lend them." To assist them, we need the aid of the state.

PAR Number 11682806

State: Virginia Year: 1828
Location: Lynchburg Location Type: City

Abstract: The Board of Managers of the Lynchburg Society, auxiliary to the American Colonization Society, through its secretary urge the General Assembly to advance the cause of emigration to Africa. The separation of free people of color from the slave population would be "productive of much individual and general good," they assert. They suggest the creation of bounties to encourage "a spirit of emigration" to West Africa.

PAR Number 11682812

State: Virginia Year: 1828
Location: Dinwiddie Location Type: County

Abstract: The Colonization Society of Virginia calls on the legislature to support the colonization of free people of color to West Africa. The Society argues that the colonization of Liberia has been successful and is very much necessary as the presence of "this class of people among us," they say in reference to emancipated slaves, "is a positive evil." Returning free people of color to Africa, therefore, would be a "noble enterprize."

PAR Number 11683003

State: Virginia Year: 1830
Location: Fauquier Location Type: County

Abstract: Thirty-six citizens of Fauquier County "regard the residence of a free black population among us as highly injurious, and deprecate its increase as an intolerable burthen." The petitioners perceive "the existing laws on this subject to be inadequate." They do believe, however, the "plan of African colonization presents a cheap, certain and humane remedy" to this "growing evil." With the act passed 4 March 1833 about to expire, the petitioners "respectfully and earnestly pray that it may be renewed, and so modified as to make the appropriation more liberal, place it more immediately under the controul of the State Colonization Society, and apply its benefits to all free persons of colour, born and residing within this Commonwealth, who consent to be transported to Africa."

PAR Number 11683005

State: Virginia Year: 1830
Location: Lewis Location Type: County

Abstract: Nathan, a free man of color, represents that he was born in 1808 into the family of Edward Brown, "his humane master." He further recounts that the said Brown’s will “emancipated the mother of Your petitioner in consideration of faithful services"; the will also directed that "your petitioner then just born would be free when he attained the age of 21 years." Nathan contends, however, that he is free "from involuntary slavery only" as "he shall within a specified time go into voluntary exile -- leave the scenes of childhood the people of his acquaintance -- those whom he delighted to call master and mistress Leave the only relatives which he has on earth." He therefore prays that he be allowed to remain in Virginia until 1840 in order help his brother and sister "procure their liberation and the means of removal to Liberia, where by meritorious exertions, they may possibly promote the interests of their outcast species."

PAR Number 11683009

State: Virginia Year: 1830
Location: Buckingham Location Type: County

Abstract: The Auxiliary Colonization Society of Buckingham County through its president and a special committed created for the purpose of petitioning the legislature present a resolution adopted at the society's last annual meeting. They ask that an appropriation be made and sent to the American Colonization Society. When they "reflect on the numbers of the free coloured population in the state" and their rapid increase, the petitioners argue, it cannot be doubted that "this unfortunate class of human beings is benefitted by a removal to Liberia." They are in fact informed, the petitioners add, that "those who before their removal were poor, depraved and miserable are now affluent, honest and happy." The petitioners thus feel assured that their subject will receive a "calm, deliberate and full investigation." The American Colonization Society has "already done so much as could have been reasonably expected by voluntary contributions. It has demonstrated beyond the reach of doubt the practicability of removing and colonizing all the free people of colour in the United States, and all slaves which may be hereafter voluntarily emancipated for this purpose and it is now unable from the want of funds, to remove the numerous applicants that are seeking an asylum, in the land of their forefathers."

PAR Number 11683101

State: Virginia Year: 1831
Location: Northampton Location Type: County

Abstract: Ninety-six citizens of Northampton County seek to remove free people of color from their county. The petitioners argue that the station of free people of color "exposes them to distrust & suspicion." Maintaining that free blacks are "inferior to the whites in intelligence & information; degraded by the stain which attaches to their colour; excluded from many civil privileges which the humblest white man enjoys, and denied all participation in the government," they declare that "it would be wholly absurd to expect from them any attachment to our laws & institutions or any sympathy with our people." The petitioners assert, however, that "the enjoyment of personal freedom ... elevates them, at least in their own opinion, to a higher condition in life" than slaves. The petitioners propose sixteen measures to curtail free blacks' "capabilities of mischief," the first of which declares "that it is absolutely necessary, not only to the correct government of our slaves, but also to the peace & security of our society, that all free persons of colour should be promptly removed from this county," perhaps "sent to Liberia in Africa."

PAR Number 11683102

State: Virginia Year: 1831
Location: Nansemond Location Type: County

Abstract: Thirty-three citizens of Nansemond County charge that "the mistaken humanity of the people of Virginia ... has permitted to remain in this commonwealth a class of persons who are neither freemen nor slaves." They maintain that "the mark set on them by nature precludes their enjoyment, in this country, of the privileges of the former; and the laws of the land do not allow them to be reduced to the condition of the latter," whereby "they are of necessity, degraded, profligate, vicious, turbulent and discontented." The petitioners assert that "we would not be cruel or unchristian but we must take care of the interest and morals of society, and of the peace of mind of the helpless in our families." They therefore believe "it is indispensable to the happiness of the latter, that this cause of apprehension be removed." Noting that free blacks "can never have the respect and intercourse here which are essential to rational happiness and social enjoyment and improvement," they state that "in other lands they may become an orderly, sober, industrious, moral, enlightened and christian community." The petitioners therefore "leave to the wisdom and provident forecast of the General Assembly, the conception, adoption and prosecution of the best practicable scheme."

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