Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11086301

State: Mississippi Year: 1863
Location: Clarke Location Type: County

Abstract: Reese Price requests compensation for his slave Anthony, who died from exposure after being impressed to work on fortifications near Columbus, Mississippi. Anthony was a "mechanic", that is a carpenter, and one of only three male and two female adults Price had to work on his farm. Although he owned twenty slaves, he notes that the others are children less than thirteen years of age.

PAR Number 11278908

State: North Carolina Year: 1789
Location: Dobbs Location Type: County

Abstract: John Herritage, a Commissioner of Confiscated Property for Dobbs County, states that, by order of the county court, he received certificates from persons "indebted to absentees" whose property had been confiscated. Asserting that these certificates were not honored by the General Assembly, Herritage therefore prays that he be alleviated "from the payment of a greater proportion than hath been by him received." An inventory of confiscated property listed five slaves and their hiring value in 1782.

PAR Number 11283302

State: North Carolina Year: 1833
Location: Cumberland Location Type: County

Abstract: Joseph Hostler, a barber in Fayetteville belonging to the estate of David Smith, reports that Smith allowed him "to purchase his own freedom" and that he has "paid to the said Smith & his Executrix ... the full sum of Five hundred Dollars, the sum required of him"; he also states that he has paid $96 "per year for about Four years and a half." The petitioner therefore "prays that he may be emancipated and admitted to the privileges of free men of Colour in this state."

PAR Number 11379802

State: South Carolina Year: 1798
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: James Delaire states that his slave, Paul, alias Figaro, was convicted of sedition and sentenced to be transported from the United States to the Dutch Colony of Surinam and sold. Other slaves involved in the plot were hanged, but Paul testified against them and his life was spared. Paul was turned over to Duncan Hill, owner of the brig Aurora, for transport to Surinam. Owing to the "Intense cold the said Figaro had suffered in the Work House at Charleston & the strong pressure of the Irons on his legs very few days after the Sailing of the Aurora he was taken with a swelling about the ankles which turn'd into a sore & that a mortification of the flesh ensuing his toes rotted & one of his feet drop'd of[f] entirely." As a result, Paul sold for only about $20 though he was worth $350. Delaire seeks compensation.

PAR Number 11379803

State: South Carolina Year: 1798
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: James Delaire states that his slave, Paul, alias Figaro, was convicted of sedition and sentenced to be transported from the United States to the Dutch Colony of Surinam and sold. Other slaves involved in the plot were hanged, but Paul testified against them and his life was spared. Paul was turned over to Duncan Hill, owner of the brig Aurora, for transport to Surinam. Owing to the "Intense cold the said Figaro had suffered in the Work House at Charleston & the strong pressure of the Irons on his legs very few days after the Sailing of the Aurora he was taken with a swelling about the ankles which turn'd into a sore & that a mortification of the flesh ensuing his toes rotted & one of his feet drop'd of[f] entirely." As a result, Paul sold for only about $20 though he was worth $350. Delaire seeks compensation.

PAR Number 11382215

State: South Carolina Year: 1822
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Twelve "owners of certain slaves who have been lately executed in consequence of their conviction of the crime of attempting an insurrection in this State" seek relief. They insist that "they neither pretend that their slaves were innocent, or that they had an impartial trial, but the foundation on which they rest their expectations" grows out of a principle established "both in law and morality." The petitioners declare that "if one man take the property of another he should give him in return the value of said property" whereby "every person has an unqualified right to his own property and an absolute controul over the same." They therefore ask "why then should they suffer -- the State has taken away their property to answer the ends of public justice with which they are satisfied." The petitioners seek from "your Honorable body" reasonable and just indemnification for the loss of their property as occurs when "the State has taken away their property for public purposes of justice (the same as if the State had taken several lots of land for public use.)"

PAR Number 11481504

State: Tennessee Year: 1815

Abstract: Matthew Clay seeks payment for the hire of four of his slaves who worked on the Cumberland Turnpike Road. Stating that an agent for the state signed a promissory note for the slaves' hire on 21 September 1814 for more than four hundred dollars, Clay charges that said agent has died and "your memorialist has not received one cent for their services altho [he] holds the note executed from the State by his agent."

PAR Number 11678602

State: Virginia Year: 1786
Location: James City

Abstract: John Pierce represents that in 1774 he "did hire to lord Dunsmore a certain Slave for which his lordship was to pay the sum of Ten pounds & to return the said Slave at the end of the year"; the slave, however, "did actually continue in his service for the year 1775." Pierce reports that "his lordship (for reasons unknown to your petitioner) did abdicate his government and has never paid a shilling for those two years service of that Slave." He further notes that Dunsmore's property has been confiscated and sold and "the money arising therefrom ... has been delivered into the Treasury of this State." The petitioner therefore "intreats the present Honble Assembly to adopt some mode to enable him to obtain payment of his Claim against lord Dunsmore."

PAR Number 11681302

State: Virginia Year: 1813
Location: Hampshire Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1804, Joseph Hill promised to free his slave James if James worked for Archibald Linthicum for five years, for which Linthicum agreed to pay Hill one hundred pounds Virginia currency. At the end of the five years, Hill reneged and demanded more money from Linthicum, to which demand Linthicum complied and paid Hill an additional one hundred dollars. After it was paid, James became the property of Linthicum who signed his deed of emancipation. Now a free man, James asks for the legislature to pass an act giving him permission to "remain in the neighborhood where" he has "long lived" without incuring any fines of penalties other than such as are incurred by other free persons of colour who are permitted to remain within the Commonwealth."

PAR Number 11681809

State: Virginia Year: 1818
Location: Amelia Location Type: County

Abstract: On 24 March 1816, the slave Hannibal absconded from his owner, William Cassels, in Amelia County, and several weeks later, on 16 April 1816, he was captured and jailed in Chesterfield County. Hannibal lied about his name, place of residence, and the name of his owner. When his owner could not be located, he was sold in September 1817 for $506 "according to law to pay prison fees" to a slave trader named G. G. Washington. Later Cassels discovered the fate of his slave, who finally confessed to one Anderson P. Miller what his real name was and the name of his owner. In fact Hannibal, a "yellow complected" man, made the observation that although "he was veary well pleased with his master … his Mistress was blacker than himself and he had determined on not gowing to that plantation again." Cassels seeks to be reimbursed the amount paid into the state treasury from the sale of his slave.

PAR Number 11682712

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

Abstract: George Spencer represents that last August "a negro man the property of your petitioner was convicted of Rape & Setenced by the said Court to be hung by which Sentence your petitioner has been deprived of nearly his only means of Support." Averring that Buck "was a mechanic of considerable value," Spencer reports that he "was receiving $15 per month for his services." The petitioner contends "that the amount allowed him by the Court is not the intrinsic value of his property." Spencer therefore appeals "to your Honble body to allow him further compensation for his property." James Hart, in an attached affidavit, states that Buck "was worth to [Spencer] at least Eight hundred Dollars."

PAR Number 11682807

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

Abstract: Hetty Jacobs, the widow of Solomon Jacobs, joins the guardian of her three infant children and the administrator of her late husband's estate to request that the eleven slaves belonging to said estate be sold "and the proceeds vested in Bank or Government stock to be held for the benefit of the widow & children." They aver that said slaves consist "exclusively of women & children who are not only wholly unproductive, but if not sold, must become a charge to the estate." Declaring the conduct of said slaves to be “very insolent and every way objectionable," the petitioners therefore pray that a law be passed "authorising the sale of the said slaves."

PAR Number 11684901

State: Virginia Year: 1849
Location: Spotsylvania Location Type: County

Abstract: William W. Jones informs the legislature that his slave Tom Minor, a "valuable" cooper, was assaulted "in a public street within the corporation of Fredericksburg" in 1847 and died of his wound the next day. According to Jones, Tom Minor was a slave of "unexceptionable" character, "obedient & submissive in his deportment, unoffending in his manner." Jones further explains that he was able to get $100 per year in hiring fees and was offered $1,200 to sell him. Jones seeks compensation for the loss of his slave. He realizes that "public policy may be urged against the appropriation of the amount of his loss from the public treasury," but he believes that the compensation should come from the perpetrator of the crime. The man who assaulted Tom was a shoemaker by the name of Lindsay Owens, who was tried, convicted and sent to the penitentiary for a period of eighteen years. Jones asks that, "after applying the fruits of Lindsay Owens labour in defraying the expenses of his conviction & support," the residue "or so much as is necessary be applied to" indemnify him. Jones pleads that he is poor and has a large family to feed. The loss of his slave has been devastating to him.

PAR Number 11685602

State: Virginia Year: 1856
Location: Culpeper Location Type: County

Abstract: Sarah Ann Ficklen represents that her father, Cyrus Ficklen, a free man of color, married a slave and purchased her freedom; the couple had two children--Sarah Ann and Abbie--born after the purchase. She further states that her father died intestate and that his estate is still not entirely settled. Sarah Ann reports that she and her sister were hired out for twenty-five dollars a year and that the said Abbie was eventually sold for between three hundred and fifty and four hundred dollars. The petitioner humbly prays "that it may please the Legislature of the state to relinquish the right of the state to your petitioner and her children and thus secure to her and them freedom upon such terms as the wisdom of the Legislature may impose."

PAR Number 11685801

State: Virginia Year: 1858
Location: James City

Abstract: Twenty-nine "citizens of James City and York and the surrounding County" represent that John, a slave held by Francis M. Jones, "was condemned to the punishment of death for burning the jail of Middlesex County" and that said slave was later sold "and transported beyond the limits of the United States." The petitioners state that "the County Court of Middlesex valued said slave above, at the sum of Two Hundred and Fifty Dollars." Believing "said slave was worth at least Six Hundred Dollars," the petitioners pray "the General Assembly ... pay the said Francis M. Jones an additional sum of Three Hundred and Fifty Dollars which we regard as just and proper." They contend that said John "did not burn the Jail from malice, nor from any other motive than to escape from confinement therein to which he had been subjected as a Runaway."

PAR Number 20182202

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

Abstract: Archibald Finly [Findley], administrator of the estate of Archibald Campbell, asks permission to sell lots in the town of Montgomery rather than slaves to satisfy debt against the estate. Finly states that the slaves are "negroes which are of great advantage to your petitioner and the Guardians of said Campbells heirs by applying the money arising from the hire of said negroes to the support of said heirs." He claims that sale of the city lots "would be far less injurious to the said ... estate and the heirs thereof than a sale of the said negroes or any part thereof."

PAR Number 20182803

State: Alabama Year: 1828
Location: Franklin Location Type: County

Abstract: The petitioners, last surviving heirs of Thomas Blount Whitmill, seek to settle a dispute about the ownership of slaves in his estate. In his will, dated 1798, Whitmill, who resided in Halifax County, North Carolina, loaned to his then unmarried daughter, Elizabeth "six negroes-to wit: Sam, Eli, Charity, Tempy, Lewey & Molly & their increase during her natural life." If Elizabeth bore children, they were to inherit the slaves forever; otherwise, the slaves were to be divided equally among Thomas's other four children. Elizabeth married a man named Claudius David L. shortly after the making of the will and shortly before her father's death. Widowed a few later, she married Arthur S. Hagan, and then died, childless, in 1824. Her widowed husband is now in possession of the slaves and their increase. Anne S. Bell, wife of the petitioner, is the only surviving Whitmill heir. She and her husband, John J. Bell, are suing Hagan for title to the slaves and their increase, in addition to the proceeds from their hire since Elizabeth's death. The petitioners cite the status and value of the said slaves to be: "that Sam died before the death of Elizabeth W. Hagan. They estimate the aggregate value of the slaves, who now number fifteen, to be $5,550. They seek an attachment to prevent the defendant from removing or selling the slaves.

PAR Number 20183002

State: Alabama Year: 1830
Location: Bibb Location Type: County

Abstract: Harwood Goodwin states that in October 1823 he "did place in the possession of said [Benjamin] Camp a Certain negro man slave named Jim, of the age of sixteen years," as collateral for the one hundred dollars he owed Camp, who is his son-in-law. Goodwin states that Jim was worth six hundred dollars and, as part of the agreement, he stipulated that the first year Camp pay him $60, "at a hire of five dollars per month for the first year, and that the hire was to increase as the boy grew older & became more servisable," continuing until the debt was repaid. Goodwin also borrowed another $250 from Camp, offering a slave, Lucy, worth five hundred dollars, as collateral, with the same conditions of hiring out to repay the debt. Goodwin says that Camp "has been long since reimbursed," and that "during such time of hire & while in his possession or under his control, or by his Improper & cruel Treatment ... Lucy has been greatly injured & her value greatly decreased." The petitioner further states that Lucy has given birth to a child during this time. As Camp refuses to settle accounts, Goodwin asks the court to force Camp to return the three slaves; to pay "all monies with legal interest on the same for the services of said slaves over the amount due respondant from Orator;" and to pay for the injuries sustained by Lucy while in Camp's possession. Goodwin is also suing Camp "for the damages, or injuries sustained in his interest, by causing the death of the mare & colt" belonging to Goodwin as well as for compensation for his son's services while employed by Camp. In his answer, Camp contends that the property was placed and allowed to remain in his possession on his agreeing to financially bail out his father-in-law, whose property was levied on several times. He claims that there never was any talk of his paying hiring fees.

PAR Number 20183105

State: Alabama Year: 1831
Location: Franklin Location Type: County

Abstract: Ellis Isbell states that on or about 5 November 1827 the defendant, Benjamin Hudson, paid off a $530.90 judgment held against him. Isbell claims that, in order to "secure & indemnify said Hudson for paying the sum of money," he placed four slaves valued at $1,325 in Hudson's possession. Isbell estimates the value of the slaves' service and labor at $180 per year. Their verbal agreement provided, according to Isbell, that Hudson would hold ownership of the slaves until the debt was paid and if the debt remained unpaid, then he would retain ownership of the slaves. Isbell gave Hudson a bill of sale for the slaves, based on the verbal agreement of ownership rights. Isbell states that on 6 November 1830 he attempted to pay the debt, but Hudson "positively and entirely refused to receive the same and refused to deliver said Slaves." Isbell charges Hudson with fraud and seeks ownership of the four slaves, either upon payment of the debt or upon payment of the difference between the interest on the debt and the slaves' hire.

PAR Number 20183107

State: Alabama Year: 1831
Location: Franklin Location Type: County

Abstract: In a previous petition filed in January 1831, Ellis Isbell sought the return and title to the four slaves he claims to have mortgaged to the defendant, Benjamin Hudson. Isbell recounts that, being unable to pay a $530.92 judgment obtained against him, he asked Hudson to pey it on his behalf. He secured the debt to Hudson by mortgaging a family of slaves to him. Isbell, desirous to reclaim his slaves, attempted to repay Hudson the amount owed but Hudson refused to accept the money and continued to hold the slaves in his possession. In the earlier petition, Isbell charged Hudson with fraud and sought title to the four slaves -- either upon payment of the debt or upon payment of the difference between the interest on the debt and the slaves' hire. In his current amended bill, Isbell states that he has reason to believe that Hudson "will dispose of said slaves and place it out of your Orator's power to regain or redeem them even if he succeed in his said Original Bill." Isbell further notes that he has learned that Hudson has drawn up a deed in trust that mortgages "two quarter sections of land and twenty or twenty one negroes including the four which your Orator claims the right to redeem." Isbell alleges that the money to be secured to Hudson's securities "as appears in said Deed in Trust is three thousand one Hundred Dollars and that said property conveyed is amply sufficient to pay the same exclusive of your Orator's said four slaves sought to be redeemed." Isbell points out that the said deed in trust appears to be dated "7 June 1831," which is five months after the date he filed his original petition. The petitioner seeks an injunction "preventing and restraining said Hudson from disposing of said four Slaves or taking them out of the power of the process of this Court untill a final decree is made in the case of the aforesaid Original Bill."

PAR Number 20183403

State: Alabama Year: 1834
Location: Bibb Location Type: County

Abstract: Harwood Goodwin states that there has been no resolution to his original petition, dated 15 September 1830, because of court continuances in the case. The petitioner states that the two slaves in question, Jim and Lucy, "have long since discharged all just claims which deft could have had," and that the slaves "ought to have been restored to your Orator for which and on account the bill prayed." Goodwin notes new circumstances have occurred since he initiated his original suit. He states that Lucy is now the mother of four children and that the defendant "has & does keep them & their mother to the detriment of your Orator." He also states that Camp "sold & disposed of Jim," and that the defendant is now in the process of retrieving Jim from the purchaser. The petitioner believes "that said Defendant intends to prevent the cause from coming to trial," stating that Camp has stated that "your Orator never should have said slaves," giving Goodwin good reason to believe that Camp intends "to run said slaves off." Goodwin therefore asks the court "to award a writ of Attachment, to take said slaves into the possession of the Sheriff."

PAR Number 20183503

State: Alabama Year: 1835
Location: Bibb Location Type: County

Abstract: On 3 May 1830, Lucy and Rebecca Carlton, together with their son and brother, the late Isaac S. Carleton, mortgaged a nineteen-year-old slave named Lorenzo to Hardy Johnson to secure the payment of four hundred dollars. Johnson shortly thereafter "transferred said mortgage and the possession of said slave to one James W. Davis." According to an agreement made with Davis, the petitioners could redeem the slave at any time provided that "he was not taken out of a growing crop." In May of 1832 and again in February 1834, the petitioners attempted to pay Davis and reclaim possession of the slave. Both times, Davis refused to accept their money and refused to return the slave, "alledging that he would rather pay the costs of a suit than ... part with the possession of said slave," whose hire, the petitioners claim, "was worth one hundred and twenty dollars a year." The petitioners seek restoration of the slave and compensation in the amount of the value of his hire.

PAR Number 20183601

State: Alabama Year: 1836
Location: Jackson Location Type: County

Abstract: Martha McComb Logan and her husband, John, state that in 1816, her sister, Ann McComb, "brought from the State of South Carolina a negro boy named Will then about twelve years old to the residence of complainants in Madison County Alabama." Will "was sent out by Andrew McComb the common ancester of said defendant and your oratrix to be kept in the possession of said Defendant for the joint benefit of her and your Oratrix." However, the Logans contend, Ann McComb "concealed from your Orator the nature of said trust and of his interest in the services of said negro." Several years later, McComb moved away and "has had the exclusive services of said negro ever since until she secretly sold him for about one thousand dollars," the petitioners say. They seek compensation in the amount of half of the slave's hire since McComb left their residence and half of the proceeds from the sale of the slave.

PAR Number 20183605

State: Alabama Year: 1836
Location: Madison Location Type: County

Abstract: Cornelius Todd received a loan from John Hardie, putting up three slaves as collateral. One of the slaves, Jack, thirty-four years of age and of "yellow complexion," was valued at seven hundred dollars. Hardie possessed Jack from October 1828 until March 1830, at which Todd regained possession. Over the next six years, however, Jack passed into the possession of several men, and even temporarily returned under Todd's control. Todd asserts that his debt has long since been paid, but that the slave is now laboring in the possession of one James Hill, who refuses to return him. Todd seeks recovery of the slave and payment for his hire. In his related answer to the charges, Hardie contends that Jack was sold to him, not mortgaged as collateral for a debt, and that he had a right to resell him. His contention is supported by the other defendants who claim that they each purchased Jack with a bona fide title to him.

PAR Number 20183805

State: Alabama Year: 1838
Location: Madison Location Type: County

Abstract: William E. Gardner petitions through his guardian, Richard B. Purdom, for the return of a slave, Harry, and compensation for his hire while in the possession of Nathan Smith and William Vesey. Gardner states that in 1819, Penelope Gardner inherited from her father Abner Eason of Bertie County, North Carolina, "a certain negro man slave named Harry to hold during her life and after her death to go to her child or children." William Gardner charges that after his mother's death in 1832, William Dougherty, Penelope's second husband and administrator of her estate, conspired with Nathan Smith, his court-appointed guardian, to cheat and defraud him out of his rightful legacy. The court "in ignorance of the facts thus suppressed," gave Harry to the defendant Dougherty, who in turn sold him to Smith "for the sum of three hundred dollars, about one half of his then value." In July 1832, Smith sold the slave to William Vesey. Gardner asks that Smith's settlement of his guardianship accounts be reopened and "that said Harry be restored to him," along with $125 per year as compensation for his hire.

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