Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11086201

State: Mississippi Year: 1862
Location: Madison Location Type: County

Abstract: Sarah Garrett was indicted and found guilty on three charges of "permitting her slaves to go at large and trade as freemen." She was fined $500 in each case. Citizens of Madison County request that an act be passed "remitting the fine imposed in said cases" because she was "utterly ignorant of the existence of the law under which she was indicted." Sarah, a widow with four children, including two in the army and another recently killed in the war, was forced to permit the slaves to "hire their time" to support herself and her remaining child. One of the slaves hired out as a barber and two others as draymen.

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 11086401

State: Mississippi Year: 1864
Location: Issaquena Location Type: County

Abstract: James A. Mayfield, sheriff and tax collector of Issaquena County, asserts that he has been unable to collect taxes since the year 1861. He prays to be "released from his bonds as tax collector." He explains that, in 1862, he levied on the personal property of property owners who had defaulted on their taxes and attempted to sell slaves, but no offer of purchase was made. He states that slaves are no longer being sold at auction "for the want of bidders." In fact, over the last two years conditions have deteriorated further; the county being located just above Vicksburg, the presence of the enemy has prevented the transaction of business as usual. In January 863, the "Federals" established a permanent military post at Lake Providence, Louisiana, "which is but a short distance" from the county seat. The Federals have organized "negroes for the service of the United States" and the result has been the commission of "every species of outrage and violence with impunity." In this condition of things, the petitioner states, "to attempt to collect taxes or execute any other legal process would be idle and absurd."

PAR Number 11086402

State: Mississippi Year: 1864
Location: Pike Location Type: County

Abstract: The petitioners state that their slaves, Mary and Tena, plotted to murder several "helpless" white families and to destroy the property of their masters by setting fire to a store, warehouse and "several dwelling houses." The two women were captured as they sought to "flee to their friends--the Yankees--for protection." The petitioners assert that due to the virtual suspension of the courts and the insecurity of the jails, the two women were hanged without due process of law. The petitioners seek compensation for their losses.

PAR Number 11086403

State: Mississippi Year: 1864
Location: Madison Location Type: County

Abstract: Twelve citizens of Madison County request the legislature to pass various laws restricting railroad employees to "Southern raised men or their slaves." They state that they "apprehend no danger from our blacks -- they are by us as strong as can unite man to man, our true friends -- the danger we dread is from base white men, from the free soil states who having waited in vain for that manifestation of discontent among the servile population ... are determined with unparalleled effrontery to attempt to hasten our destruction by overt acts of their own." Thus not only should the legislature pass the railroad laws but should also require the sheriffs of the state to provide the names of those who refuse to swear allegiance to the state of Mississippi or to the Confederacy.

PAR Number 11086501

State: Mississippi Year: 1865
Location: Claiborne Location Type: County

Abstract: Residents of Claiborne County request relief from pre-Civil War contracts--deeds, mortgages, liens, bills of exchange, promissory notes, accounts--made predicated on slave labor. Some of these debts can never be paid, they assert, and it is not fair for the sheriff to seize cotton, land, and stock, when both the Confederate and Federal troops have confiscated private property. They ask that a "Court of Equity and Insolvency" be established to hear their cases since they are no longer able to pay debts "predicated on Slave labor."

PAR Number 11086502

State: Mississippi Year: 1865
Location: Madison Location Type: County

Abstract: W. S. G. Walker requests compensation in the amount of three thousand dollars for his slave named Caroline, who died in jail awaiting trial on charges of burning his house. Due to the war, the Circuit Court was never held, either in November 1861 or April 1862, and, after fifteen months in jail, the slave died.

PAR Number 11086601

State: Mississippi Year: 1866
Location: Simpson Location Type: County

Abstract: Citizens of Simpson County ask that Lewis Dixon be granted all the rights and privileges of white men. Dixon's mother was white; he was three generations removed from the "African race;" and he had never associated with "recently made Freedmen."

PAR Number 11186701

State: Missouri Year: 1867
Location: Pike Location Type: County

Abstract: In an eloquent plea to the "Honorable Senate and House of Representatives," eighty two freedmen of Pike County ask that the state remove all legal restrictions "on account of race or color." They do not seek "social equality," they inform the legislative body, but rather the obligations of citizenship. Recalling their plight under slavery, where they stood in a "Kind of medium between that of men and that of brutes so far as any personal rights or privileges were concerned," they remind the legislative body that "where the State demands obligations and duties at the hand of all her citizens without distinction, the correlative rights and privileges of all those citizens should be conceded without distinction." "The injustice and incongruity of requiring of all citizens the Equal payment of taxes for the support of the Government," they argue, while "a large class of those citizens are debarred from all participation or voice in the Government" cannot be "defended as an abstract proposition." "We will not insult the intelligence of your Honorable Body," they add, "by offering proofs of our loyalty as a class. The history of the 200000 soldiers of African descent during the last four years is too fresh in the memory of all the people of the State to require more than reference to it." And if "we are not so well prepared intellectually and by Education as a class for the exercise of the Elective franchise, and other duties of citizens, as others," they conclude, "let the deadly nightmare of legal prohibition that so long oppressed our race, be our apology."

PAR Number 11286201

State: North Carolina Year: 1862
Location: Catawba Location Type: County

Abstract: Thirty-four residents of Catawba and Burke counties "wish to Lay before your consideration the general Situation of this Section of North Carolina." They report that "the conscripts under thirty five having been taken from here, and there is but few Slaves in this Section of country there are but few men left for the support of the country." They further declare that "the country is already full of widows and orphans the wives and children of Volunteers and conscripts." The petitioners therefore pray "your honorable body do not have any more men taken out of this State; if there are many more taken Starvation and famine will prevail throut the country."

PAR Number 11286202

State: North Carolina Year: 1862
Location: Wake Location Type: County

Abstract: Sally Scott, a twenty-two-year-old free woman of color and mother of nine-month-old John, confesses "that she is tired of being free -- that she finds it difficult to support herself and is desirous of having a master." She therefore prays "that by Resolution of this body she and her son shall be enslaved, and that Sidney A. Hinton of Wake County may be declared her master."

PAR Number 11286301

State: North Carolina Year: 1863
Location: Davidson Location Type: County

Abstract: Percy Ann Martin states that "she belongs to that class of our population called 'free negroes' and has had a husband for the last five years who is a slave." Martin laments that her said husband "has been sold under execution, and she is informed that the marriage and cohabitation between her and her husband is against the law and will be broken off." Confiding that "she is attached to her husband and does not wish to be seperated from him," Martin cites that she is "poor, has no property" and is unsure of how she will support herself "in these time of scarcity of provisions and high prices." Being “fully of the opinion that her Condition as a slave under a good master is greatly to be preferred to her Condition as a houseless and suffering free negro," Martin prays that an act be passed "reducing her to slavery and respectfully solicits that she may be made the slave of Henderson Adams Esqr who is the owner of her husband."

PAR Number 11286401

State: North Carolina Year: 1864
Location: Union Location Type: County

Abstract: Forty-nine Union County citizens seek relief for the families of soldiers. The petitioners state that "where the labouring class consists chiefly of white men, and where those white men are mainly in the Army as is the case with this County, leaves but few to make support for the thousands of Women and Children and old men that are left behind." They further report that Union County, which has a slave population of about two thousand, provides as many soldiers as the neighboring counties of Anson and Mecklenburg, each of which has three times as many slaves. The petitioners therefore pray for such relief and assistance "as you may have the power to do, either to assume our debt in part or the whole, to allow us a greater portion of the appropriation from the State than has been allowed us, or such other help" that will enable them to provide for the "families of our brave and patriot Soldiers."

PAR Number 11286601

State: North Carolina Year: 1866
Location: Wake Location Type: County

Abstract: Six representatives of the Colored Baptist Church of Raleigh, with its "membership of 300," seek permission to use state property to erect a church for freed people. They report that "for many years, we have been, as we are now, accustomed to worship in the basement of the Baptist Church, when not occupied by the white members, and we have long felt the necessity of a seperate house of Worship but the exceeding liberality and kindness of the white bretheren, in connection with our poverty, has induced us to adapt ourselves to the situation without complaint." However, "under the new order of Events, by which we have been freed from Slavery We feel satisfied that our religious enjoyment, and usefulness as a Church of Christ, would be greatly promoted, by having a separate organisation and distinct house of Worship."

PAR Number 11386301

State: South Carolina Year: 1863
Location: Fairfield Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Thirteen Fairfield District residents seek a limit on the number of "able Bodied Negro men" employed in the turpentine business; their employment there greatly reduces "the number of Hands, that ought, we think, be employed in raising such Provisions as the Salvation of our Cause depends upon." The petitioners further argue that since cotton is restricted, turpentine should also be limited. In addition, they contend that "those hands employed in the above business being mostly Hired, and Provisions so very high many of them will live by Committing depredations on the Neighbouring Cribs and Stock while there is not white men enough left in the County to do Patrol duty."

PAR Number 11386601

State: South Carolina Year: 1866
Location: Barnwell Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Seventy-two-year-old former slave George Daniel seeks assistance in his old age. Relating that he served on a privateer in the War of 1812, he avers that "he was faithful and loyal to his ... master and his family, that he has been polite and respectful to all." Daniel declares that "no resident of the state, more deeply deplores the disastrous termination of the war to both White and Black than does your Petitioner." He therefore "respectfully prays that its Representatives of his beloved state will do something to help the old man in his declining years."

PAR Number 11486101

State: Tennessee Year: 1861
Location: Marion Location Type: County

Abstract: Capt. D. W. Alexander of the Marshall Rangers and 1st Lt. G. Malcomb of the Marion Dragoons ask that the Legislature "authorize by Law the hiring of three free negro men, at a price not exceeding the pay of a soldier to a company ... to attend to the preparing the meals for the Company & to be held responsible by the Captain for provisions placed in their charge." The officers purport that both time and money will be saved and "besides this you then have regular & Experienced cooks, and the Soldiers not kept from Drill, to attend to this duty, and can keep themselves much more clean & neat in appearance." They predict that "under this proposed arrangement, the meals for the entire company are all ready at the same time, which is a matter of no small importance." They therefore pray that said "economical & money saving measure" be approved.

PAR Number 11486102

State: Tennessee Year: 1861
Location: Davidson Location Type: County

Abstract: Captain F. M. McNairy of the Tennessee Rangers reports that he "consulted every member of my company consisting of Seventy Six men, and they are unanimously in favor of allowing one Servant to each mess of eight men, and that officers of the Army shall be permitted to hire Such Servants ... as they may think proper." He further relates that said men "recommend the passage of a bill authorizing the Governor to receive and if necessary to impress the male free persons of color in the State of Tennessee in to the Service, to be distributed among the Several encampments to do Such menial Service as they might be Competent to perform."

PAR Number 11586303

State: Texas Year: 1863
Location: Cook Location Type: County

Abstract: William Hudson represents that "a secret organization ... composed of persons inimical to the Confederate States Government" was uncovered in the county in 1862. He further states that he feared when said group "felt itself sufficiently strong, then to throw off the veil of secrecy and openly espouse the Federal Cause, fully endorsing the abolition administration of Abraham Lincoln, and with fire and sword to devastate the whole country -- murder and rob all persons favourable to the South indiscriminately, without regard to age condition of sex." Seeking to preempt such an attack, Hudson recounts that he and six or seven hundred citizens "commenced the work by arresting about seventy (70) of the members of said organization, suspected of treason, and carried them to the town of Gainesville in said County, for safekeeping and trial." Hudson explains that "there being no jail house of the sufficient capacity, to hold the accused, it was necessary to procure a strong guard of the citizens." Hudson, as Brigadier General of the militia, avers that he used his own money to pay for provisions. He therefore "asks that an appropriation be made of Forty five hundred Dollars, or so much thereof as may be necessary to pay off the debts thus accrued."

PAR Number 11586601

State: Texas Year: 1865
Location: De Witt Location Type: County

Abstract: With the "abnormal condition of free negroes," sixty-three white residents of De Witt County "cannot not hope to make them useful in the absence of white laborers & managers." They note that "our agricultural interest must ... materially suffer from the destruction of our patriarchal system; and it is only by a diversification of labor that we can hope to establish a healthful system of labor and give wealth to an otherwise ruined country." They state that "to this end we should encourage the increase of forges, spindles, looms, Tanneries & work shops of every grade & character of mechanism." They therefore would "encourage the citizens from our sister states lately in rebellion with us to settle amongst us" as "they are homogenous in every respect and a population we could welcome and rely upon for directing free negro labor." They further believe said population "would migrate to this State with proper inducement held out to them." The petitioners therefore "respectfully solicit the donation of public lands to individual & families removing here for permanent settlement from the late slaveholding states."

PAR Number 11586701

State: Texas Year: 1867
Location: Wharton Location Type: County

Abstract: Nineteen residents of Wharton County propose the establishment of "an Orphans Assylum and manual laboring Institute, for the Education of Freed minors and orphans of the African race." They believe that the condition of "the Entire Black population [that] have been emancipated" as well as the condition of "the White Citizens Among whom they are destined to remain would be infinitely bettered by extending to them the advantage of an Education." They "believe such an institution can be organized upon a Plantation productive in Cotton, Corn, Potatoes and other vegetables that will not only afford the means of Education to 3 or 400 a year, and at the same time instruct them in sound morals, and industrial habits." Of the firm opinion that "the matter should be under the Control of Southern men," the petitioners pray that the legislature "grant unto them a Charter, whereby they may become a body Corporate for that purpose."

PAR Number 11686201

State: Virginia Year: 1862
Location: Bath Location Type: County

Abstract: Seventeen citizens in Bath County complain that "the Negro Convicts in this section of the Country, are a perfect nuisance and we humbly ask that they be removed from our section of the County, and placed at Work on some of the fortifications at or near Richmond."

PAR Number 11686202

State: Virginia Year: 1862
Location: Goochland Location Type: County

Abstract: Thirty-four citizens of Goochland County represent that Dr. John Morris "has been for the last ten years or more afflicted by a disease of the spine, which has rendered him utterly incapable of walking ... in consequence of such disease he is altogether incapable of attending to out door business of any kind whatever." They further reveal that said Morris "is the owner of some fifty or sixty slaves and a large plantation" and that his four sons all volunteered "for the War." The petitioners assert that Morris's overseer "has also been called out with the militia and unless he be relieved by your interposition will leave home for the seat of war in a few days." They therefore pray that William P. Crowder, the said overseer, be exempted "from service in the militia so long as he continues in his present employment."

PAR Number 11686301

State: Virginia Year: 1863
Location: Rockingham Location Type: County

Abstract: Eighty-one residents of Rockingham County represent that "our County owns but few slaves, in comparison with many other portions of our state, and therefore the drain upon our laborers to fill up the ranks of our Army has been greater in proportion to our population." They further point out that "in addition to this fact, our County has been twice overrun by our enemies, who destroyed our fences, devastated our fields and robbed us of our property"; the federal troops also "deprived us of a part of what we had, by seducing many of our slaves from their owners and carrying them off." The petitioners submit, however, that "we are now called upon to furnish nearly one whole force of stout and able bodied slaves remaining in the County to work upon the fortifications of Richmond, a call, which if not arrested by the action of the Legislature, will further cripple and impair our ability to cultivate our lands, and to furnish aid to our Confederate armies." They therefore pray that "your honorable body, in consideration of the facts and reasons here presented, will amend the Law, so as to exempt from its operation the County of Rockingham."

PAR Number 11686401

State: Virginia Year: 1864

Abstract: E. D. Boyd recounts that he was captured in 1862 in Kentucky "by the federal force" and that he spent two years in various prisons. When he returned to Virginia, he learned that Col. John Clarkson had conducted "a raid on the house of ... James S. Layne," his father-in-law. He further represents that the said Clarkson confiscated seven slaves belonging to the eighty-three-year-old Layne and three slaves belonging to Mrs. Hatcher, a widow. Boyd discloses that Layne "claimed to be a union man to save his property" although "all his sympathies are with the Confederacy." Boyd, on behalf of his father-in-law and Mrs. Hatcher, prays "that the property aforesaid be restored to the owners."

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