Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11280101

State: North Carolina Year: 1801

Abstract: Seventy-year-old Richard Warren, "much afflicted" with the infirmities of old age, seeks to emancipate "a negro woman Lettice," who has "for many years been a faithful servant of himself and wife." Warren explains that his wife has died and "that all his children are either dead or married and have numerous families, his youngest child being the mother of nine children and that he is now entirely dependent on the faithful services of the said negro woman Lettice, for the care of his house and property." Avowing that she is a woman of "uncommon faithfulness," Warren prays "that the General Assembly will pass an act to emancipate and set free the said negro woman Lettice in consideration of the before recited important Services."

PAR Number 11280109

State: North Carolina Year: 1801
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: John Davidson "sheweth that he owns a negro man slave Call'd and known by the name of Doctor Wallace who is Desirous of obtaining freedom and suporting himself by his occupation." Davidson declares that "he the said Doctor Wallace is often Time sent for som Times at a very Considerable Distance so that the most of his Time is taken up in Visiting & administering Physic & waiting on those Patients who Choses to Imploy him." This results, according to Davidson, in "his services to me [being] Rendered almost useless." Noting that "a number of the Inhabitants believes him to be very Skilfull and Usefull as a Physician and seems Disirous of his Liberation," the petitioner prays "your Honourable Body to Emancipate the said Doctor Wallace and make him a free Citizen of the Country and that he may for the future be Call'd ... Peter Wallace."

PAR Number 11280110

State: North Carolina Year: 1801
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: Thirty-two Montgomery County residents stand in support of John Davidson's "desire to Set free a certin negro man slave Of his own write and property well [known] by the Name of Doctor Wallace." The petitioners believe that said slave "is a very usefull Black man in That branch of business" and is particularly adept at healing sores and ulcers. They therefore humbly pray "your Honorable body to Emancipate the said negro man Wallace and Establish his Name by Law by the name of peter Wallace."

PAR Number 11280206

State: North Carolina Year: 1802
Location: New Hanover Location Type: County

Abstract: Members of the Mechanical Society of Wilmington join other inhabitants of the town to contest "the practice of many Owners of Slaves in Town, to hire to them their own time." The petitioners argue that said slaves as "mechanics" take on "work on their own account at, sometime less, than one half the rate that a regular bred white Mechanic could afford to do." They also point out that this practice affords slaves with "so much time to themselves" to consort "daily and nightly together" whereby "insurrections, and plans against the lives and property of the citizens may be formed, matured, and carried into execution with unanimity, secrecy and dispatch." They therefore pray that "one particular civil officer" be authorized "to adopt and pursue such vigorous measures for prevention of abuse" of the self-hiring of skilled slaves, whom they consider to be "the irreconcilable enemies of the Whites."

PAR Number 11280505

State: North Carolina Year: 1805

Abstract: The attorneys of James Deane request that the said Deane be permitted to bring fifteen slaves, "well acquainted with the making of Salt," into the state "for the purpose of carrying on that business on the Sea Coast." They therefore "at the request and in behalf of the said Deane Pray your Honorable body to pass a law empowering the said Deane to Import his negroes into this State."

PAR Number 11280906

State: North Carolina Year: 1809
Location: Randolph Location Type: County

Abstract: William Bell, an executor of the late Richard Sayrs, declares that his testator's will "directed that a Molattoe boy of the name of George, then under age should be emancipated & set free." Bell reports that the said George "has lived in the family of your petitioner for a number of years & has been taught to read & Wright & has also learned the Black Smith trade." Attesting that George is "of good Moral Charactor and honoust principles," the petitioner prays "your Honourable body to pass a Law to emancipate the Said boy George by the name of George Sayrs."

PAR Number 11281606

State: North Carolina Year: 1816

Abstract: Thirty-two "Owners & Mariners in a portion of the Shiping of this State" seek the repeal of an act passed in 1812 that prohibits slaves from being employed as pilots. They point out that at that time "the probability being much greater that a slave might be reduced to pilot an enemy into port than that a free man should commit such a crime." The petitioners counter, however, that, in a time of peace, "it will be not only safe, but advantageous to permit Slaves to be licensed as pilots," as "the persons of that description employed as pilots being generally well qualified, skillful & hardy" were certified by the Commissioners of Navigation. They therefore pray "that the said act may be repealed."

PAR Number 11281608

State: North Carolina Year: 1816
Location: Bertie Location Type: County

Abstract: Willis, "formerly the property of William T. Thompson," recounts that he "has belonged to the family of the Thompsons from his infancy until the year 1814." He proudly asserts that during such time "he hath performed many & important services for his respective masters, having for a great part of the time served them as Superintendant or Overseer." Willis acknowledges that the said William T. directed that, at his death, "your Petr. should be sold with a view ... that he your Petr. might purchase his own freedom." He states that the executor of Thomas's estate sold him to one William Carnal from whom he purchased his freedom and that the court was "pleased to order adjudge & decree your Petr. on complying with the provisions of an act of assembly ... should be set free." Having complied with said provisions, Willis discloses, however, that "the Court did not give your Petr. a name or stile by which he can purchase or transfer property, sue or be sued, plead or be impleaded or otherwise enjoy many of the rights and privileges of a free person of Colour." The petitioner therefore prays that an act be passed "emancipating your Petr. by the name of Willis Thompson."

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 11283501

State: North Carolina Year: 1835
Location: New Hanover Location Type: County

Abstract: James S. Green seeks the freedom of a twenty-one-year-old “Mulatto Boy named James," who "has been known by the name of James Hostler.” Green represents that John M. Gabie bequeathed said slave to him until James "should arrive at the age of twenty one years, and with directions to Your Petitioner to manumit and set free the said Boy James as soon as he shall have attained the age of twenty one Years." Green, "anxious and desirous of carrying into effect the said last Will and Testament of the said John M. Gabie," therefore prays "that your Honorable Body will emancipate and set free the Said Boy James" and that James, a carpenter, be allowed to remain in said state so he may be near his mother "in her old age" and thus "be enabled to render those acts of filial duty and affection which his feelings prompt and his gratitude imperiously demands."

PAR Number 11283804

State: North Carolina Year: 1838
Location: Wake Location Type: County

Abstract: Charles Dewey seeks to emancipate Tom Mitchell, a twenty-six-year-old enslaved carpenter. Dewey represents that said "Tom is a man of very good character, of quiet & orderly behavior & very humble & respectful in his deportment towards white people." He therefore prays that "he may be liberated & made a free man & known & called as such by the name Tom Mitchell."

PAR Number 11284007

State: North Carolina Year: 1840
Location: Randolph Location Type: County

Abstract: Joab Harman, the owner of thirty-four-year-old Abram and thirty-three-year-old Elick, states that he "is very desirous to have the said Slaves emancipated with the priviledge of remaining in the State." Harman recounts that he inherited said slaves from John Fruit, his father-in-law, who "did on his death bed request & desire that the Said Slaves should be emancipated." He further discloses that "he has raised the Said Slaves and brought them up to habits of industry & Sobriety & has taught them the art & trade of blacksmiths." Revealing that "he has no children to give them to," the petitioner "believes that neither his wife or himself could die in peace, knowing that the Sd Slaves would pass into the hands of Strangers." Harman therefore prays that an act be passed "emancipating the Said Slaves Abram & Elick."

PAR Number 11284205

State: North Carolina Year: 1842
Location: Chowan Location Type: County

Abstract: Molly Horniblow, a seventy-five-year-old free woman of color who was manumitted "in consequence of long, faithful and meritorious services to her owners," asks that her forty-four-year-old son, Marcus Ramsey be freed. She states that she purchased her son and that he is "now and a long time past a Barber in Edenton." She further avows that said Ramsey has always been "honest, industrious and obedient, faithful and attentive to the interest of those who of right have had control of him." Noting that "there is no one to whom her property can descend," the petitioner therefore prays that "you will pass an Act liberating him to remain in the State."

PAR Number 11284804

State: North Carolina Year: 1848
Location: New Hanover Location Type: County

Abstract: Nicholas Nixon seeks to emancipate a slave by the name of Sam, "now between the ages of fifty five and sixty." He reports that Sam was held by Robert Nixon until 1809 and then by Nixon's widow, Christian Nixon, until 1832. The petitioner further notes that Sam managed the widow’s business affairs for twenty-three years; he superintended her farm, oversaw her other slaves, and sold her crops. Nixon also reveals that in 1822 when "the kitchen of the said Christian Nixon, situated near her dwelling house was consumed by fire," Sam "at the risque and peril of his life succeeded in protecting it from burning." The petitioner therefore prays that "said slave Sam may be emancipated and set free."

PAR Number 11285003

State: North Carolina Year: 1850
Location: Beaufort Location Type: County

Abstract: One hundred seventy-six citizens of Beaufort County complain that the "White Mechanics of our State are laboring under a serious injury, inflicted upon them by the competition they experience from negro mechanics." They believe that this is "not only an injury to them, but to every portion of the community, because it places a check against the advancement of Agriculture, and forbids genius and talent from entering its employment on account of degradation it may experience, by being brought down side by side with negro labor." They further declare that "the free negro population ... has increased to an alarming extent." The petitioners therefore pray "the General Assembly to pass an act, laying a tax upon free negroes which shall be applied for the purpose of colonizing them in Liberia, and if necessary, an additional sum from the State Treasury."

PAR Number 11285004

State: North Carolina Year: 1850
Location: Northampton Location Type: County

Abstract: Forty residents of Northampton County ask that James Langford, an "industrious and frugal" slave carpenter, be emancipated. Citing that Langford has a "wife and children [that] are slaves," they report that "he is desirous of remaining in North Carolina with them." The petitioners therefore pray "your Honorable body to pass an act emancipating him." They believe that "by granting this petition your will be an act of kindness for a deserving man, receive the thanks of your petitioners and do no wrong to the public interest."

PAR Number 11285006

State: North Carolina Year: 1850

Abstract: Abraham Rencher asks for compensation for his slave Emeline, who escaped to the "free states of the North" in July 1846 with her husband Mike and her two-year-old daughter. Hired out in Chapel Hill, the black family traveled to Henderson, met a white man named Nelson, "a northern interloper" who posed as their owner, and boarded a passenger car of the Raleigh and Gaston Rail Road and rode to freedom. The petitioners assert that the agents of the railroad company should have demanded "proper indemnity for the true owners" and that the railroad was therefore legally responsible for the slaves. Mike's owner took the case to the Board of Commissioners in 1847, but it was dismissed on the grounds that the Board did not have the authority to pay the claim. After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850, one of the owners and an authorized agent for the other journeyed to the North to recapture the slaves but failed. As a last resort, the owners seek assistance from the General Assembly.

PAR Number 11285405

State: North Carolina Year: 1854
Location: Cumberland Location Type: County

Abstract: John Cook represents that "he is the owner of certain Slaves named Handy, Polly, & Louisa, formerly the property of Archibald McLauchlin." He further states that the said Handy raised "a sufficient sum to purchase himself, his wife Polly & daughter Louisa with a view to their ... emancipation." Describing the family as "sober humble upright industrious & good persons & of consistent character," the petitioner therefore prays "that an act may be passed by your Honorable body emancipating said slaves Handy & his wife Polly & daughter Louisa."

PAR Number 11285408

State: North Carolina Year: 1854
Location: Cumberland Location Type: County

Abstract: The joint owners of Dolly, age about fifty, and Caroline, age about twelve, seek to free the two slaves in accordance with the wishes of Dr. Hiram Robinson, who sold said slaves to the petitioners. They point out that the said bill of sale "expressed upon its face that your Petitioners should hold the said slaves as tenants in Common until they were lawfully emancipated or conveyed to some free state or territory -- thereby conveying the impression to the purchasers, your Petitioners, that he, the former owner, desired their future emancipation." They therefore pray, "in consideration of the uniformly good character of the said Dolly & her daughter Caroline," that an act be passed emancipating said slaves.

PAR Number 11285412

State: North Carolina Year: 1854
Location: Cumberland Location Type: County

Abstract: Seventeen residents of Cumberland County seek to emancipate Thomas Malett, a fifty-three-year-old slave; six of said residents are the joint owners of the said slave. The petitioners aver that Thomas is "an exemplary member of the Church--He is Carpenter by trade, strictly upright & honest in all his dealings--and has ever evinced fidelity towards his owners." They therefore pray "your Honorable body to extend to the said Thomas Malett, the high [privilege] of Emancipation."

PAR Number 11285603

State: North Carolina Year: 1856
Location: Alamance Location Type: County

Abstract: James Newlin of Alamance County represents that "his slave Sam, commonly called Sam Morphis, desires to be emancipated by the General Assembly with the privilege of remaining in North Carolina." Newlin reports that "Sam has been for several years engaged as a hack-driver and waiter at the University" and that Sam "has made himself acceptable to all who have employed him." The petitioner therefore asks "a favorable consideration for this prayer for freedom."

PAR Number 11285604

State: North Carolina Year: 1856
Location: Orange Location Type: County

Abstract: Seventy-three students at the University of North Carolina support freeing Sam Morphis, who "has been well known to them as a faithful and respectful servant." The students, residents of North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, and Texas, cite that "this is the first petition which has ever been presented to you from the students of your University” and that they “entertain high hopes that a consideration of the subject will prevail with the General Assembly to emancipate the aforesaid Sam Morphis.”

PAR Number 11285605

State: North Carolina Year: 1856
Location: Orange Location Type: County

Abstract: Eighty-one "citizens of Chapel Hill and its vicinity unite in recommending the petition in behalf of Sam Morphis to the favorable consideration of the General Assembly" for his emancipation.

PAR Number 11285609

State: North Carolina Year: 1856
Location: Brunswick Location Type: County

Abstract: Fifty-eight citizens of Smithville, in the County of Brunswick, and "some of us Mechanics," consider "the great injury done us by Colored persons in taking contracts at a lower rate than we can afford, thereby depriving us of the means of supporting our families." They therefore pray "your Honorable bodies to pass an act to prevent free colored persons from becoming contractors for any mechanical work such as building houses vessel &c. And especially to pass more stringent laws against slaves hiring their own time." The petitioners purport that "the evil has become a serious one, and we most earnestly believe that sound policy no less than our own interest requires that white mechanics should be protected against the competition of colored persons whether free or slave."

PAR Number 11285801

State: North Carolina Year: 1858
Location: Granville Location Type: County

Abstract: William Gilliam represents that he hired his slave named Jacob "to the President of the Raleigh & Gaston Rail Road then the property of the State & under its control, to work on the Shop in the City of Raleigh which had been partly destroyed by fire." Gilliam charges that, while on board the train and en route to Raleigh, his slave "was put by the President of the Road ... to the business of putting wood on ... at the various stations"; when the train lurched, Jacob "was thrown on the track, and the wheels of one of Cars ran over his ankle & foot mashing them very badly." Gilliam reports that Jacob "never recovered" and that "he was rendered for a long time useless to your memorialist, and his death was caused ultimately by said injury." The petitioner therefore prays that he be compensated for the loss of Jacob, since “the death of the said slave was a heavy loss to your memorialist--He was an excellent carpenter- & was worth at least $2,000."

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