Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11278502

State: North Carolina Year: 1785

Abstract: Dr. Robert Thomas Hornby requests a patent for his "Horizontal Wind Machine," used for "the beating of rice, manufacturing Indigo, Grinding Wheat [into] the Flour, sawing Lumber, supplying Land with water & Draining Land when overflowed, Drawing Shingles &c." He asserts that the machine's benefit would be recognized by "those Gentlemen who are too well acquainted with the heavy expence and labour (not to mention the mortality of Negroes) attending the usual mode of beating rice & Indigo which will be saved by this machine." Hornby therefore "only requests the Honble House will grant him Letters Patent to secure an exclusive right for fourteen years to Him his Heirs Execrs Adms or Assigns."

PAR Number 11300005

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

Abstract: Forty-three wharf owners and merchants in Charleston ask the legislature to take action to halt the theft of cotton bales. They assert that “slaves and free persons of Colour, who being able to write, readily manufacture tickets in the name of the owner or employer or any other person, and frequently in the name of a fictitious person” and then sell said cotton and other goods to unscrupulous shopkeepers. They further lament that said trafficking is very difficult to stop and even when suspects are brought in it is difficult to prosecute as the bales have already been shipped out. The petitioners “confidently believe that in the article of Cotton alone, not less than Five Hundred Bales are purchased in illicit traffic by the Shops in Charleston from Slave and free persons of color.” They therefore ask for stricter laws and better enforcement.

PAR Number 11380601

State: South Carolina Year: 1806
Location: Barnwell Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Nathaniel Heywood, John Gibbes, Ann Gibbes and Daniel Blake oppose a petition that proposes to establish a public landing on “one or other” of their plantations along the Combahee River. They say that a public landing would be met with "very great inconvenience to the Owners thereof, as it would expose their settlements to all the disadvantages which usually attend a Vicinity to public Landings, by giving free access to their plantations to the Idle and the Vagrant" and to the "pedling boats which frequent the river, who want only a public Landing as a Station to enable them to remain in the Vicinity of the large and productive rice plantations, for the purpose of trading with the Negroe Slaves, to the very great loss of the Owners, and Corruption of such Slaves." The petitioners contend, moreover, that there is an "already established" public landing at Dunhams, three miles away by land and five or six by water, used by rice planters in that area of St. Bartholomew's Parish.

PAR Number 11381002

State: South Carolina Year: 1810
Location: Georgetown Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: One hundred one residents of Georgetown submit that they "suffer seriously from the insufficiency of the provisions of the Law for the prevention of illicit traffic with negroes." They believe that "a considerable portion of the crops raised in the vicinity of the said town is sold by Negroes, without tickets; several hundred bushels of rough rice having been found, at different times in the possession of petty shopkeepers, who raised no rice and who could hardly, in any other way, have obtained such large quantities of produce." Purporting that "the love of plunder" has greatly increased, the petitioners point out that "these evil-disposed persons ... have several times attempted to set fire to the town." They therefore pray that their situation be taken into consideration and that they be granted "such pecuniary aid" as to enable "the Town Council of said town to hire a Guard for the protection of the said town."

PAR Number 11382808

State: South Carolina Year: 1828
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Joseph Johnson, Intendant of the Charleston City Council, raises many concerns to the members of the House of Representatives, one such concern being "the number of Schools publickly kept for the instruction of persons of Colour in reading and writing." Johnson is of the opinion that instruction is "injurious to the Community." He purports that "to be able to read and to write is certainly not necessary to the performance of those duties which are usually required of our Slaves and on the contrary is incompatible with the public safety." Johnson further argues that "the knowledge of the art of writing will enable persons of this class to carry on illicit traffic, to communicate privately among themselves and to evade those regulations that are intended to prevent confederations among them," whereby it will be "impossible to distinguish between the free and the slave of our coloured population." He therefore knows "of no remedy so effectual and at the same time so little liable to objection as the absolute prohibition of all Schools for the instruction of Coloured persons." In addition, Johnson asks that the practice of owners and others in hiring slaves and free persons of color in their stores and shops be halted. In addition to denying employment to the white population, this situation introduces "the Coloured population and especially slaves into situations which are inconsistent with their Condition." The petitioner suggests "that the system of slavery is so interwoven with the constitution of our Society that even if our interests permitted it would be impossible to eradicate it." He believes, therefore, that "it becomes highly important that the regulations necessary for maintaining this state of things in peace and security should be permanently established and regularly maintained."

PAR Number 11382809

State: South Carolina Year: 1828
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Joseph Johnson, Intendant of the Charleston City Council, raises many concerns to the members of the Senate, one such concern being "the number of Schools publickly kept for the instruction of persons of Colour in reading and writing." Johnson is of the opinion that instruction is "injurious to the Community." He purports that "to be able to read and to write is certainly not necessary to the performance of those duties which are usually required of our Slaves, and on the contrary is incompatible with the public safety." Johnson further argues that "the knowledge of the art of writing will enable persons of this class to carry on illicit traffic, to communicate privately among themselves and to evade those regulations that are intended to prevent confederations among them," whereby it will be "impossible to distinguish between the free and the slave of our coloured population." He therefore knows "of no remedy so effectual and at the same time so little liable to objection as the absolute prohibition of all shools for the instruction of coloured persons." In addition, Johnson asks that the practice of owners and others in hiring slaves and free persons of color in their stores and shops be halted. In addition to denying employment to the white population, this situation introduces "the coloured population and especially slaves, into situations which are inconsistent with their condition." The petitioner suggests "that the system of Slavery is so interwoven with the constitution of our Society that even if our interests permitted it would be impossible to eradicate it." He believes, therefore, that "it becomes highly important that the regulations necessary for maintaining this State of things in peace and security should be permanently established and regularly maintained."

PAR Number 11384302

State: South Carolina Year: 1843
Location: Barnwell Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Forty-two citizens of Barnwell District "are satisfied that an evil of great magnitude pervades to some extent the whole State, and one which strikes at the vitals of our domestic Institutions, which demands at the hands of the Legislature some effective measures for its suppression." The petitioners "allude to the illicit traffic with Slaves." They lament that "the owner of the property is defrauded of his just Gains, and the slave is made the vehicle through whose hands the stolen property is passed. Thus through the base and nefarious means used, the slave is made the fit instrument of crime, and being trained to every violence, he too often eventually becomes an assassin or incendiary. His mind corrupted, his body diseased, he either fills a premature grave by the effects of disease or through the administration of justice, expiates his crime on the gallows, while the promoter and partner of his guilt escapes with impunity and in defiance of the law." Noting that the dockets are crowded with indictments for trafficking, the petitioners seek a law imposing corporal punishment on whites for a second conviction for trafficking with slaves, either selling them liquor or purchasing corn, rice, or cotton, "the three great staples of the County."

PAR Number 20685013

State: Georgia Year: 1850
Location: Bryan Location Type: County

Abstract: James Cody states that his good reputation has been ruined by the slander of John Baily, who has accused Cody of buying "rice from a slave without written permission from the owner overseer or employer of such slave." According to Cody, Baily's words imply that the petitioner is "a dishonest trader & guilty of buying & keeping stolen goods knowing them to be stolen." Cody seeks $5,000 in damages.

PAR Number 21379401

State: South Carolina Year: 1794
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: Mary Woodberry, joined by her "natural guardian," Jonah Woodberry, seeks the court's intervention in John Buchanan's settlement of her grandfather's estate. Jonah Collins's will bequeathed to his granddaughter seven slaves and "one thousand pounds" and appointed several "friends" as his executors; of these friends, only John Buchanan "took upon himself the Execution." Woodberry complains of Buchanan's mismanagement of her grandfather's lands, which she claims are "among the most valuable and least hazardous in the State." She charges Buchanan with putting his own slaves to work on her grandfather's plantation and appropriating to his own advantage the proceeds of the rice and timber cultivation thereon. She proposes that Buchanan "vest the crops in the purchase of negroes" and "place the said one Thousand pounds at Interest."

PAR Number 21380309

State: South Carolina Year: 1803
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: Thomas Lehre and Jacob Martin, trustees for Ann and Mary Lehre, accuse Ann of defrauding her infant daughter, Mary, of her rightful estate. Ann Lehre, the widow and executrix of Dr. William Lehre, assented to the sale of forty slaves and nine tracts of land in the estate without obtaining permission from the petitioners. Her marriage contract with Lehre, much like the marriage contract with her first husband, Samuel Miller, protected the property Ann inherited from her father, Alexander Findley. Miller died in 1795 and Ann, still a minor, married Dr. Lehre in the same year. Before Lehre died in 1799, the couple modified the trust estate in the marriage contract to make provisions for Mary. In 1801, the petitioners notified Ann that her father's estate was being sued for an unpaid debt. The said Thomas advised Ann to sell some of her "least valuable" slaves to discharge the debt, but Ann ignored her trustee, allowing the suit to continue and culminate in a decree to sell a substantial portion of the estate. Ann then had an agent go to the sale and repurchase the land and slaves for her at a reduced price. The petitioners applied to Ann "in a friendly manner" to restore her daughter's property, but she refuses. They ask the court to intervene on Mary's behalf.

PAR Number 21380701

State: South Carolina Year: 1807
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: Mary Bellinger, executrix of Edmond Bellinger, "who was Executor of Benj Webb," asks the court for "an Enquiry into the grounds" of a decree ordering her to account for the hire of slaves in Webb's estate "from the year 1782, inclusive." In an earlier suit, Webb's heirs charged her husband with "gross negligence" in his management of the estate. She explains that her husband's records have "Suffered the effects of a Calamitous war" and that she, being "unfit for business," is unable to produce a "rigorous account" of Webb's estate. She disputes allegations that the estate suffered a "deficiency" in crops during her husband's management and offers an account that proves her claim with "mathematical certainty." The court's original decree required her to compensate the estate "at the rate of £10 pr. Working hand per Annum, taking the Working hands at 60."

PAR Number 21380802

State: South Carolina Year: 1808
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: Free mulatto John Holman Jr., former executor of the last will and testament of John Holman Sr., asks the court to settle a dispute with his brother, Samuel, who took over executorial duties of their father's estate in 1805 after Holman Jr. left for Africa. Samuel, at the same time, also assumed direction of his late father's slaves and "received, sold & disposed of" the rice crop they produced. Holman Jr. complains now that he has been charged with the plantation rent and the slaves' annual hire since 1805. Pursuant to a suit filed by the Holmans' sisters, the court ordered a partition of the estate, whereby Samuel was allotted nine slaves. This allotment is subject to confirmation from court officials pending determination of Samuel's indebtedness to his brother. The petitioner contends that Samuel has, in fact, received more of the estate than he is entitled to as a legatee. Holman Jr. asks the court to determine a proper disposition of the estate's property. An excerpt from the elder Holman's will reveals that one of his slaves, Elizabeth, is the boys' mother. The will instructs that she be manumitted and that her sons "support and protect her."

PAR Number 21380903

State: South Carolina Year: 1809
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: Elizabeth Rachel Buer, orphaned at age six, asks the court to compel Hugh Campbell, her maternal uncle and the executor of her late father's will, to settle with her for her portion of the estate. Her father's will made provisions for her when she turned eighteen, but, until that time, Elizabeth "was thrown upon the charity" of various individuals until her paternal aunt, the wife of Dr. Mathew O'Driscoll, "took your Oratrix at about the age of fifteen into her own house and hath brought her up as one of her children." Now nineteen, Elizabeth complains that Campbell "will not make her estate payable to her." She accuses Campbell of pretending there is no longer any estate that she can "depend upon or expect." In addition, she charges that Campbell has misconstrued a mortgage among his stepmother's papers, intended to be a "confidential and specious" transaction, whereby her father conveyed five slaves to his mother-in-law, Rachel, in order to defeat his creditors. Lamenting that her uncle's actions will "leave her a miserable outcast on the pity of the wide world," she prays that "the breach of trust and confidence touching all and singular the premises be redressed and rectified" and that the transaction "touching the Sale of the Negroes be transferred to the credit of the Estate of Thomas Buer for the benefit of your Oratrix and the said Mortgage be delivered up and cancelled."

PAR Number 21381413

State: South Carolina Year: 1814
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: Samuel Holman, a free man of color, asks that Anthony Chanet, his attorney and agent, account for his actions while Holman was in Africa. Holman states that Chanet charged him $8236 for "sundry supplies of the domestic Kind" in 1805; "having no suspicion then that the sum was incorrect and unjust," he "executed the said Chanet a Mortgage of Forty Two Negroes." In the fall of 1805, Holman entered into an agreement with Frederick Tavel for a "joint voyage to the Coast of Africa," with Tavel advancing the necessary funds for said trip. To secure his debt to Tavel, Holman executed a "a simple Indemnity bond" for $12,000 that was secured by "the same Forty Two Negroes already mentioned as having been ... mortgaged to Anthony Chanet." Prior to his voyage, Holman appointed Chanet "his Agent to transact his business during his absence." Charging that Chanet illegally seized and sold certain slaves, Holman avers that he has "applied to the said Anthony, as his Agent, to make out a full and fair statement of all his transactions as his Attorney during his absence" but the said Chanet "hath hitherto wholly refused and Keeps your orator totally ignorant of the state of his property and funds in his hands." He therefore prays that Chanet be ordered to answer his charges and that he be decreed "to deliver up to him the bond and mortgage." Holman also prays that the defendants not be allowed "to molest, seize, carry away, sell or otherwise dispose of any of the Negroes mentioned" in said bond and mortgage."

PAR Number 21381421

State: South Carolina Year: 1814
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: George Parker, "a Judgment Creditor & late the Attorney in Fact, of John Holman," seeks to recover slaves seized by Anthony Chanet, the attorney of Samuel Holman. Parker informs the court that the Holman brothers, free men of color, served as executors of the will of their father, John Holman the elder, an English-born slave trader, until the younger John left for Africa in 1805; as heirs to the elder Holman, Samuel and John were entitled to a share of their father's estate. Noting that his client owed him money, the petitioner asserts that the said Samuel had "relinquished his right to his share of his Father's Estate to the said John Holman or pledged the same to him for payment of his Debt." Parker charges Chanet, who "set up a claim to the slaves allotted to the said Samuel Holman," caused an attachment to levy upon the said property, "with a view to defeat the just claims of your Orator." Arguing that "he had not only an equitable but a legal Lien on the same for payment of his Debt," the petitioner prays that "the said Slaves delivered up ... to the said Anthony Chanet ... may be restored, & their wages paid, to your Orator, to be applied in part payment of your Orator's Judgment."

PAR Number 21381507

State: South Carolina Year: 1815
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: William and Margaret Wells Murray ask the court to set aside a written agreement between Margaret and Arthur Hughes and to compel Hughes to account more equitably with them for Margaret's portion of her parents' estates. Hughes became the third husband of Margaret's mother, Hannah, in 1794, thereby gaining possession of the property of Margaret's father, John Wells, and Hannah's second husband, William Elms. After Hannah died, Hughes "blended together under his own name, his own and your Oratrix's property," instead of properly administering the estate. Until 1811, Hughes managed upwards of 100 slaves in clearing "very extensive fields for the culture of cotton." When the Murrays were about to marry, Hughes delivered 36 slaves to the "unfriended and unprotected" Margaret and offered her a settlement bond of $7000, which "thro' her ignorance" she accepted. She and William now point out that under Hughes's custodianship, the plantation's rent and its slaves' hire total over $31,000. Having been "for sixteen years at the mercy of the Defendant's," Margaret asks for the court's intervention in securing her rightful inheritance.

PAR Number 21383222

State: South Carolina Year: 1832
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: The children and grandchildren of John Ashe ask the court to sanction agreements that they have made to settle his estate. They explain that John Ashe's will directed his executors to keep the "planting Interest" of his rice and cotton plantation intact and working "so as to pay off and satisfy all the Debts and Legacies left by him;" the executors then are supposed to divide the 207 slaves among Ashe's children. The petitioners further state that the debts and legacies of the estate are "between Sixty and Seventy thousand Dollars." After working the plantation for two years, the heirs and executors decided it would take years to pay the claims, and, "in case of any accident to the negroes, this delay might operate much to the injury" of everyone. They therefore devised a plan to pay the claims more quickly. The heirs will cede their shares of the estate to John A. S. Ashe, who will take all responsibility for paying the debts and legacies by sale of estate property or out of his own property, thus disregarding the terms of the will. The petitioners ask the court to confirm these agreements and to compel executor John A. S. Ashe to abide by the same.

PAR Number 21383512

State: South Carolina Year: 1835
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: James Sparkman, with his brother and guardian William, asks permission to mortgage property. They remind the court that they won their suit against Henry Cuttino, executor of the estate of Peter Cuttino, who had been executor of the estate of Moses Miller. The court ordered Cuttino to turn over to the Sparkmans the rice plantation and "sundry negroes" and other property that Miller had bequeathed to them. Miller's estate still owes several creditors, however, and "in order fully to Exonerate the Estate" the Sparkmans have negotiated a loan from the Bank of South Carolina. They must mortgage the lands and slaves to the bank as security, but James is a minor and "is unable to unite with his brother in giving to the Bank a mortgage of his share." The petitioners request that the court authorize William to mortgage James's share along with his own.

PAR Number 21383910

State: South Carolina Year: 1839
Location: Edgefield Location Type: District

Abstract: Administrator John Bauskett, heir Ann Wightman, and her husband William seek to sell trust property. Ann's uncle, John Moore, died intestate in September 1834. As the only next of kin still residing in the United States, Ann inherited the real estate. Her husband purchased a large part of the personal property at the estate sale, including Moore's seventy-nine slaves. [The commissioner's report reveals that Moore's personal estate sold for $64,000 or $65,000 and that Wightman paid $36,000 or more of that amount.] The Wightmans put everything into a trust for their support, naming Bauskett as trustee. They have continued to work the plantation, but "so unprofitably that, instead of repaying the said John Bauskett for his advances & the excess of said William J's purchases above his wife's portion, they have scarcely made enough to pay the accruing interest on the debts to the said John." The petitioners ask the court to allow them to sell everything, including the slaves, who now number ninety, so that the debts may be paid in full; any remaining proceeds would be invested in bank stock for the trust.

PAR Number 21384545

State: South Carolina Year: 1845
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: William Taylor and Winborn Lawton seek payment of debts owed them by William Washington. The petitioners inform the court that each of them has tried numerous times to collect money from Washington for "clothes and other necessaries for the comfort and support of his family and negroes" and groceries. Washington has used various strategies to avoid paying. Currently, he claims that the property he controls actually belongs to his wife's trust estate, established by her father and entrusted to her brother, James S. McPherson. The petitioners contend that Washington owns some of the property himself and that the trust estate is also liable, because he contracted the debts on behalf of his family and the land and slaves his wife inherited. Taylor and Lawton have learned that Washington is planning to leave the county, taking all the property with him. They ask the court to enjoin William Washington and James S. McPherson from disposing of any property, to forbid Washington to leave the jurisdiction, and to compel Washington or McPherson to pay the debts.

PAR Number 21384604

State: South Carolina Year: 1846
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: Richard Teasdale joins his three minor sons in asking that they be permitted "to sell a Negro Woman Maria & her infant Child." The petitioners submit that Maria "is virtually of no service to us -- in as much as she cannot cook, the fire she says affects her head-- and washing steadily keeps her constantly complaining of being sick." The Teasdales insist that she "is only fit for House Work, and ladies maid being a mantua maker and semstress." They report, however, that her annual hire for the past year yielded only $7.87. Having lost "two Crops of Rice in succession," the petitioners reveal that they have been reduced "to absolute want, being destitute of every thing" and that they "are anxious to remove to Town" to seek employment there. They therefore request the "permission of your honorable court to sell the wench Maria & her infant 7 mths old."

PAR Number 21384709

State: South Carolina Year: 1847
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: John Berkley Grimball and Eliza Berkely Wilkins, executors of the estate of the late Eliza Flinn, "are desirous of having the said Estate divided, so that they may hold their shares in Severalty." The petitioners avow that "your Petitioners mother Mrs. Eliza Flinn by her last will and testament devised to your Petitioners the residue of her Estate." They report that "the residue of the Testatrix estate consists of a Plantation called Pinebury," which contains 134 acres of rice land, another 500-acre tract of land, and eighty slaves. The petitioners pray that they be granted "a writ of partition to divide the said Plantation and Negroes among them in moieties."

PAR Number 21384924

State: South Carolina Year: 1849
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: William Brisbane joins his nine minor children in asking that proceeds from the "sale of a plantation belonging to these Petitioners" be paid to the mortgagees of their current plantation. He states that he invested the proceeds from the sale of White Cottage plantation "in certain bonds," which are held by a Mrs. Grimke and by the firm of Ingraham & Webb, "conditioned for the payment of four thousand and three thousand Dollars respectively and are secured by a mortgage of the Wilderness plantation now owned by these petitioners." He cites that "the entire property of the said Petitioners consists of a gang of about Eighty rice field slaves, which are and for several years past have been engaged in clearing and cultivating the said plantation." Noting that "said mortgagees are solicitous of being paid," he states that "the said plantation has now become of great value and is appreciating from year to year by improved and extended cultivation and is well adapted to the advantageous employment of the slaves belonging to your Petitioners." He therefore prays that the clerk and master "be ordered to pay over the funds in his hands and to assign the Bonds and mortgages of the purchaser of the White Cottage Plantation to the said mortgagees of the Wilderness Plantation."

PAR Number 21385006

State: South Carolina Year: 1850
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: William Brisbane, the father of nine minor children, asks that he receive support "from the income" of his children in order "to defray their expenses." Brisbane avows that he "has no means whatever of his own for the maintenance and support of his said family." He reveals, however, that "his said children have and hold in their own right a large and valuable rice plantation and a gang of negroes including Competent house servants about seventy in number and about seven thousand Dollars invested for their use." The petitioner relates that the children's "factors" have informed him "that without an order from this Honorable Court they no not feel authorized to make any allowance for the support of the said children, whose necessities are now most urgent and unprovided for." Brisbane therefore prays that "for the present exigency your petitioner may be authorized to receive from the said factors" a sufficient support and that "it be referred to the proper officer of this Court to inquire into the facts of this Case and to report what should be allowed as a proper sum for the annual support of the said children."

PAR Number 21385013

State: South Carolina Year: 1850
Location: Sumter Location Type: District

Abstract: John Augustus Fraser asks that William Danielle "be enjoined from prosecuting his action against ... your Orator" for the value of four slaves, who were mistakenly included in the deed of conveyance to said Danielle. He avows that he and Danielle negotiated "for the purchase by Daniell from your Orator of his plantation called 'Drakies' ... and of your Orators negroes there upon the said plantation." Citing that Danielle consummated the contract "upon the terms proposed in the said offer," he avers that "a list of the negroes proposed to be sold was then & there exhibited to the said defendant, containing the names thereof," amounting to 154 in number. Fraser states that he "purchased Drakies and the negroes attached thereto" in 1838 from Thomas F. Purse and that his counsel "to guard against any error arising from slaves attached to Drakies ... inserted in the Deed by way of further description (besides the names) that they were all the negroes purchased by your Orator" from said Purse. Fraser reveals however, that prior to his contract with Danielle, he had sold four of the said slaves and that "the Draftsman of the Deed" by "mere mistake" included their names in "the additional description" inserted in said deed. Citing that he is now being sued for $5000 in damages "for the alledged breach of Covenant," he insists that said four slaves "were not his property at the time of his said contract with the Defendant." He prays that said deed "may be reformed & the mistake therein corrected" so that it will contain "a true description of the slaves intended to be conveyed;" that the said four slaves "may be altogether excluded from the said Deed;" and that Danielle be compelled to desist with the prosecution of his suit.

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