Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 10385305

State: Delaware Year: 1853
Location: New Castle Location Type: County

Abstract: Forty-two citizens of New Castle County believe that an "Act of Assembly passed at Dover, March 5, 1851, entitled 'An act in relation to Free Negroes and Slaves,' in our opinion, works great injury to the white inhabitants of the State, as well as injustice to an unfortunate and degraded class of our population, and ought to be repealed." They argue that said law is driving free people of color out of Delaware and into New Jersey and Pennsylvania, "where their just rights are better protected"; the effect of this exodus results "in a scarcity of laborers and increase of wages." In addition, the petitioners point out that steamboat and vessel owners have suffered a loss in their revenue, as free people of color "now go to our sister States" to attend "their religious meetings;" The citizens ask that an act amending "An act concerning apprentices and servants" also be repealed as they believe said law is "unnecessarily oppressive and uncalled for." They therefore "ask the repeal of the above mentioned laws because they are operating adverse to the interests of the State."

PAR Number 10385306

State: Delaware Year: 1853
Location: New Castle Location Type: County

Abstract: Sixty-one citizens of New Castle County believe that an "Act of Assembly passed at Dover, March 5, 1851, entitled 'An act in relation to Free Negroes and Slaves,' in our opinion, works great injury to the white inhabitants of the State, as well as injustice to an unfortunate and degraded class of our population, and ought to be repealed." They argue that said law is driving free people of color out of Delaware and into New Jersey and Pennsylvania, "where their just rights are better protected"; the effect of this exodus results "in a scarcity of laborers and increase of wages." In addition, the petitioners point out that steamboat and vessel owners have suffered a loss in their revenue, as free people of color "now go to our sister States" to attend "their religious meetings;" The citizens ask that an act amending "An act concerning apprentices and servants" also be repealed as they believe said law is "unnecessarily oppressive and uncalled for." They therefore "ask the repeal of the above mentioned laws because they are operating adverse to the interests of the State."

PAR Number 10385307

State: Delaware Year: 1853
Location: New Castle Location Type: County

Abstract: Forty-three citizens of New Castle County believe that an "Act of Assembly passed at Dover, March 5, 1851, entitled 'An act in relation to Free Negroes and Slaves,' in our opinion, works great injury to the white inhabitants of the State, as well as injustice to an unfortunate and degraded class of our population, and ought to be repealed." They argue that said law is driving free people of color out of Delaware and into New Jersey and Pennsylvania, "where their just rights are better protected"; the effect of this exodus results "in a scarcity of laborers and increase of wages." In addition, the petitioners point out that steamboat and vessel owners have suffered a loss in their revenue, as free people of color "now go to our sister States" to attend "their religious meetings;" The citizens ask that an act amending "An act concerning apprentices and servants" also be repealed as they believe said law is "unnecessarily oppressive and uncalled for." They therefore "ask the repeal of the above mentioned laws because they are operating adverse to the interests of the State."

PAR Number 10385308

State: Delaware Year: 1853
Location: New Castle Location Type: County

Abstract: Two hundred and ninety-seven citizens of New Castle County believe that an "Act of Assembly passed at Dover, March 5, 1851, entitled 'An act in relation to Free Negroes and Slaves,' in our opinion, works great injury to the white inhabitants of the State, as well as injustice to an unfortunate and degraded class of our population, and ought to be repealed." They argue that said law is driving free people of color out of Delaware and into New Jersey and Pennsylvania, "where their just rights are better protected"; the effect of this exodus results "in a scarcity of laborers and increase of wages." In addition, the petitioners point out that steamboat and vessel owners have suffered a loss in their revenue, as free people of color "now go to our sister States" to attend "their religious meetings;" The citizens ask that an act amending "An act concerning apprentices and servants" also be repealed as they believe said law is "unnecessarily oppressive and uncalled for." They therefore "ask the repeal of the above mentioned laws because they are operating adverse to the interests of the State."

PAR Number 10385309

State: Delaware Year: 1853
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Twenty-six "free colored citizens of Kent County" petition the government to repeal two acts passed 5 March 1851 entitled "An act in relation to free negroes and slaves" and "An act to amend the Act entitled 'An act concerning apprentices and servants.’" Finding said laws to be "grievously oppressive," the petitioners point out that they "endeavor to perform the duties of good, orderly citizens, and it bears hard on us not to be allowed the privilege of seeking to do better elsewhere without losing our residence and being subject to arrest, fine, imprisonment and sale, provided we return temporarily to visit our families and friends." They, like their "white brethren," profess the "peace of the christian religion, and not to be permitted to assemble together, as we have been accustomed, to ask counsel of God for the salvation of our souls hereafter, and for making us more upright in this life, works against both our spiritual and temporal interest." They therefore "hope and pray" that the legislature will "deem it meet, to repeal the aforesaid acts."

PAR Number 10385310

State: Delaware Year: 1853
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Seventy-six citizens of New Castle County believe that an "Act of Assembly passed at Dover, March 5, 1851, entitled 'An act in relation to Free Negroes and Slaves,' in our opinion, works great injury to the white inhabitants of the State, as well as injustice to an unfortunate and degraded class of our population, and ought to be repealed." They argue that said law is driving free people of color out of Delaware and into New Jersey and Pennsylvania, "where their just rights are better protected"; the effect of this exodus results "in a scarcity of laborers and increase of wages." In addition, the petitioners point out that steamboat and vessel owners have suffered a loss in their revenue, as free people of color "now go to our sister States" to attend "their religious meetings;" The citizens ask that an act amending "An act concerning apprentices and servants" also be repealed as they believe said law is "unnecessarily oppressive and uncalled for." They therefore "ask the repeal of the above mentioned laws because they are operating adverse to the interests of the State."

PAR Number 11283405

State: North Carolina Year: 1834
Location: Guilford Location Type: County

Abstract: Considering it the duty of government to permit the education of every class of citizen, the Quakers petition the "General Assembly to repeal all those laws, enacted by preceding Legislatures of this State, against the literary instruction of Slaves, making it a finable offence for any to be found teaching them to read." They also request the repeal of a recently enacted law that prohibits "all coloured persons in this State, bond or free, upon the penalty of corporal punishment, from public preaching, exhorting, &c. in their Respective Congregations of Societies." The Quakers purport that if said laws are not repealed "the difficulties and danger they were intended to prevent" will increase.

PAR Number 11284004

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

Abstract: Thirty-one residents in the Spring Creek community in Buncombe County feel "deeply concerned for a Certain Cullard man named William B Hammons who we believe if he was tolerated to speak in Publick would be a means of doing much good." They purport that said Hammons "keeps company with no negroes all his association is with white people and no person that knows him doubts his sincerity as a religious Carracter." The petitioners therefore pray that Hammons "may have liberty to pray, exhort, or Preach amongst in Publick."

PAR Number 11284206

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

Abstract: Commissioners in Raleigh address the "many defects [that] exist in the statute laws of the State relating to slaves and free persons of colour" and propose amendments that will better promote "the peace of the community .. and the happiness of slaves." They declare that "it is well known that for years past a band of unscrupulous fanatics ... have been using every exertion to produce discontent and ultimately to engender rebellion amongst the slaves of the South." They cite that the statutes passed in 1830 and 1831 "forbidding slaves to teach each other, and prohibiting their being taught by white persons, to read or write, figure excepted -- forbidding slaves to go at large as freemen or to preach or exhort in public -- requiring emancipated slaves to leave the state within ninety days after their emancipation -- forbidding the migration of free negroes into this state -- and prohibiting their intermarriage with slaves" were designed not only "to protect the value of slaves as property, but to preserve that due subordination amongst them, and the free negroes which was likely to be disturbed by occurrences in other sections of the country and by the machinations of the reckless spirit of Abolitionism which was springing up in the north." Not presuming to dictate how the laws might be changed, the petitioners "beg that such provisions may be made as will protect the community in which they live from the many evils” that will occur if the existing statutes, which are easily bypassed or laxly enforced, are not amended.

PAR Number 11380106

State: South Carolina Year: 1801
Location: Chester Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: One hundred forty-four residents of Chester District seek the revision of a recent law passed "for the better governing of negroes and other persons of color." The petitioners argue that the law infringes "upon the religious rights and privileges of churches and citizens of this state ... by the restrictions it lays on them, respecting the time and manner of giving religious instruction, to the persons whose situation is contemplated in the act." They purport that "there is great reason to fear, that by the aforesaid severe restrictions imposed in this act, it will have a strong indirect tendency to produce the evil it was designed to prevent; by making that class of the negroes who value religious privileges, and are disposed to support good principles, feel unhappy, and consider themselves oppressed;” in addition, it may expose them “to the danger of seduction, from the acts of those who plan schemes of mischief.” The petitioners wish to do nothing that might "destroy the foundations of peace and social order," but they ask that the law be revised "to leave their religious liberties unimpaired."

PAR Number 11380107

State: South Carolina Year: 1801
Location: Chester Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: One hundred forty-six residents of Chester District seek the revision of a recent law passed "for the better governing of negroes and other persons of color." The petitioners argue that the law infringes "upon the religious rights and privileges of churches and citizens of this state ... by the restrictions it lays on them, respecting the time and manner of giving religious instruction, to the persons whose situation is contemplated in the act." They purport that "there is great reason to fear, that by the aforesaid severe restrictions imposed in this act, it will have a strong indirect tendency to produce the evil it was designed to prevent; by making that class of the negroes who value religious privileges, and are disposed to support good principles, feel unhappy, and consider themselves oppressed;” in addition, it may expose them “to the danger of seduction, from the acts of those who plan schemes of mischief.” The petitioners wish to do nothing that might "destroy the foundations of peace and social order," but they ask that the law be revised "to leave their religious liberties unimpaired."

PAR Number 11380108

State: South Carolina Year: 1801
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Seven members of "the Charleston Baptist Association" seek the revision of a recent law passed "for the better Governing of Negroes and other Persons of Colour." The petitioners argue that the law infringes on "the Religious Rights and Privileges of Churches and Citizens of this State ... by laying on them Restrictions, respecting the Time and Manner of giving religious Instruction to the Persons whose Situation is contemplated in the Act." They purport that "there is great Reason to fear, that by the aforesaid severe Restrictions, imposed in this Act, it will have a strong indirect Tendency to produce the Evil it was designed to prevent; by making that Class, of the religious Negroes, who value religious Privileges, feel unhappy, and consider themselves oppressed;” in addition, it may expose them “to the Danger of Seduction, from the Acts of those who plan Schemes of Mischief.” The petitioners wish to do nothing that might "destroy the Foundations of Peace and social Order," but they ask that the law be revised "to leave their religious liberties unimpaired."

PAR Number 11380201

State: South Carolina Year: 1802
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Twenty-nine "Members of the Charleston Baptist Association" seek the revision of a recent law passed "for the better governing of negroes and other persons of color." The petitioners argue that the law infringes "upon the religious rights and privileges of churches and citizens of this state ... by the restrictions it lays on them, respecting the time and manner of giving religious instruction, to the persons whose situation is contemplated in the act." They purport that "there is great reason to fear, that by the aforesaid severe restrictions imposed in this act, it will have a strong indirect tendency to produce the evil it was designed to prevent; by making that class of the negroes who value religious privileges, and are disposed to support good principles, feel unhappy, and consider themselves oppressed;” in addition, it may expose them “to the danger of seduction, from the acts of those who plan schemes of mischief.” The petitioners wish to do nothing that might "destroy the foundations of peace and social order," but they ask that the law be revised "to leave their religious liberties unimpaired."

PAR Number 11380204

State: South Carolina Year: 1802
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Thirty "Members of the Charleston Baptist Association" seek the revision of a recent law passed "for the better governing of negroes and other persons of color." The petitioners argue that the law infringes "upon the religious rights and privileges of churches and citizens of this state ... by the restrictions it lays on them, respecting the time and manner of giving religious instruction, to the persons whose situation is contemplated in the act." They purport that "there is great reason to fear, that by the aforesaid severe restrictions imposed in this act, it will have a strong indirect tendency to produce the evil it was designed to prevent; by making that class of the negroes who value religious privileges, and are disposed to support good principles, feel unhappy, and consider themselves oppressed;” in addition, it may expose them “to the danger of seduction, from the acts of those who plan schemes of mischief.” The petitioners wish to do nothing that might "destroy the foundations of peace and social order," but they ask that the law be revised "to leave their religious liberties unimpaired."

PAR Number 11381729

State: South Carolina Year: 1817
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: Twenty-six "free persons of color, attached to the African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, called Zion" are joined by thirty-four white supporters, including pastors of several Charleston congregations, in seeking permission to worship in their recently erected church. The petitioners declare that they are desirous "to open said building for the purposes of Divine worship, from the rising of the sun, until the going down of the same, under the following regulations." They propose that the church doors "shall always remain open, and that all white ministers of the Gospel of every denomination shall be respectfully invited to officiate in the said Church; ... that no minister of color, who does not reside in this State shall officiate for the said congregation nor shall any slave be admitted a member thereof without the approbation of his or her owner, nor shall any person, who is a member of any other religious Society be admitted into the same, without a recommendation from the minister of such Society, and (if a slave) the written permission of his or her owner." They further assert that "every exertion will be used by your Petitioners to preserve the utmost order and decorum in the said congregation, to inform against all evilly designed persons of color" and bring them to justice. The petitioners, avowing no "other wish or design, than to worship the omnipotent ruler of the Universe in spirit and in truth," therefore pray that "their Petition be granted."

PAR Number 11382008

State: South Carolina Year: 1820
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Twenty-six Edisto Island residents react "with alarm" to "the number of free negroes & people of Colour who have emigrated into the State," thus "increasing thereby an existing evil." The petitioners put forth some "immediate measures" for consideration and adoption. They propose that "all Negroes, bond or free" be banished "from the limits of this State"; that persons be prohibited "from emancipating his, her, or their Slave or Slaves upon any pretence whatever"; that the establishment of churches "for the exclusive worship of negroes and coloured people" be banned; that curtailing the travel of "free negroes and coloured people, visiting the Eastern States for ordination, or other religious purposes and returning" is necessary in order to control this "grievous evil," as the newly ordained ministers "return to this State to disseminate sentiments highly inimical to the best interests of this Country"; and that the "suffering [of] Schools for negroes" be prohibited and the leaders of said enterprises "immediately be arrested & Banished from this State."

PAR Number 11382019

State: South Carolina Year: 1820
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: One hundred and five Charleston residents express that they "have seen with anxious concern the number of Free negroes and coloured people, who have emigrated into this State from various quarters" and that they "have every reason to apprehend a daily increase of this alarming evil." The petitioners therefore propose certain restrictions be placed on the South Carolina free black and slave populations. They suggest a ban on "all free negroes and coloured people from migrating into this State"; that the owners be barred from emancipating their slaves unless "such emancipated slave or slaves shall within twelve months after such emancipation leave the State"; that churches be prevented from offering "exclusive worship of negroes and coloured people"; that free people of color who leave the state "shall be prohibited by Law, from ever returning"; and that the practice of "suffering schools or assemblages of negroes slaves to be taught reading and writing" be thoroughly denounced, as many of the school masters and teachers are "amply furnished with pecuniary means by abolitionist societies."

PAR Number 11383401

State: South Carolina Year: 1834
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Eighteen ministers and church officials from St. Philip and St. Michael's Parishes seek revision of the 1800 and 1803 laws requiring "a majority" of whites to be present at religious services for people of color after sunset. For thirty years, the minister’s note, people of color have had the privilege of religious instruction after sunset, subject only to regulations by the Charleston City Council. Like other statutes passed during crises, the laws governing white attendance at worship gatherings at night are "virtually obsolete" in every part of the state. The petitioners ask that religious gatherings of people of color be governed by the City Council, "whose local knowledge, personal interest, and immediate responsibility, would seem to secure all desirable vigilance and efficiency in the execution of the laws on this subject."

PAR Number 11383406

State: South Carolina Year: 1835
Location: Abbeville Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Fifty-three residents of Abbeville District seek legislation to prevent the activities of several Sunday schools "wherein a Number of Negroes are Instructed to read," for "the purpose of enabling them to read the Scriptures for themselves." The petitioners argue that such practices are unnecessary "as almost every Owner of Slaves in this country allows them the liberty of attending preaching by those who are much abler to instruct them than they would be to instruct themselves." They further fear that slaves learning to read "places them in a Situation (Ultimately) to Sap the foundation of the peace and tranquillity of this & all the Slave holding States, as they will learn to write (in Spite of all the efforts of those who oppose them) and by that means convey to each other throughout the different States all their plots and designs and place us (or our posterity) Under all the horrors of a General Insurrection." They therefore pray that a law be passed "as will entirely prohibit every thing of the kind."

PAR Number 11383503

State: South Carolina Year: 1835
Location: Chester Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: One hundred twenty-three citizens of Chester District seek the repeal of an 1834 law preventing the practice of teaching slaves to read the scriptures and other religious books. The petitioners argue that "in many places this law could not be enforced"; that "this law is also believed by many ... to invade the rights of conscience"; and that this law cannot be defended because "the ability to read exists on probably every plantation in the State; and it is utterly impossible for even the masters to prevent this -- as is apparent from the cases in which servants learn to write by stealth, although all masters are very watchful to prevent this." The petitioners aver that the state has less to fear from intelligent than ignorant slaves; the latter might become followers "of every Nat Turner who might chance to pass along." They further surmise that "if Imperial Rome could manage even a classic slavery, and a large part of their slaves also the best trained soldiers in the world, the Romans excepted, does chivalrous South Carolina quail before gangs of cowardly Africans with a Bible in their hands? Let it not be said!!" The petitioners therefore believe "that it would be both politic and prudent to repeal said law."

PAR Number 11383804

State: South Carolina Year: 1838
Location: Chester Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Thirty-six citizens of Chester District seek the repeal of an 1834 law preventing the practice of teaching slaves to read the scriptures and other religious books. The petitioners argue that "in very many places sd. law could not be enforced"; that "multitudes of citizens ... believe the law in question to invade the rights of conscience"; and that this law cannot be defended because "the ability to read which the Legislature seems to dread, now exists in probably every plantation in the State, yea, hundreds of slaves can now read all over the state & it is utterly impossible even for the masters to prevent this -- as is apparent from the cases where negros learn to write by stealth, altho the master is very watchful to prevent this." The petitioners aver that the state has less to fear from intelligent than ignorant slaves; the latter condition “make our servants the fit dupes of every Nat Turner who might chance to pass along." They further surmise that "if Imperial Rome could manage even a classic slavery, & their slaves ... the best trained soldiers in the world, the Romans excepted, does chivalrous South Carolina quail before gangs of cowardly Africans with a Bible in their hands? Let it not be said!!" The petitioners therefore “hope your Hon. body will duly weigh our petition & pass a repeal for relief.”

PAR Number 11383807

State: South Carolina Year: 1838
Location: Abbeville Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Sixty-one citizens of Abbeville District seek the repeal of an 1834 law forbidding people to teach slaves to read. They request "the liberty, if we think proper, to teach our Servants to read, with so much fluency and Correctness, that they will be able to peruse the word of God and other religious books with pleasure and profit to their Souls." The petitioners purport that the law forbidding slaves to read is an "infringement of the right of conscience"; in addition, the law is unconstitutional as it negates the Eighth Section of the South Carolina Constitution establishing freedom of religion. They declare that "by this article all mankind within the limits of the State, are allowed the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship,” and since slaves are a part of mankind, they have immortal souls and the right to exercise religious worship. The petitioners lastly assert that servants who live in religious families and have been taught to read and understand the word of God are "much more trusty in every respect" than those who did not know nor understand the Bible.

PAR Number 11384203

State: South Carolina Year: 1842

Abstract: Forty-one citizens seek legislation to remedy the fact that a large portion of the slave population is "prohibited by those who have the power, from knowing or hearing anything of the christian religion." The petitioners believe that "the most effectual, perhaps the only way of rendering your peculiar institution permanently safe, is to remove at once, every sound objection that can, with truth, be urged against them." They further state that "it would be simple to deny that in a christian land, it is a sound, though not a conclusive, objection to that system, that your slaves may at any time be, arbitrarily, debarred from hearing the word of God." Instead, they "think that the effectual mode of sustaining your system is not by shutting your eyes to existing evils but rather by removing those evils whenever the remedy can, with safety, be applied." Of the opinion that "the present memorial ... comes within this rule," the petitioners "do not presume to suggest to your Honorable bodies the specific remedy which should be applied in this case but having called your attention to the evil they humbly pray that you will grant such ... relief as, to your wisdom & humanity, you may deem most expedient."

PAR Number 11384204

State: South Carolina Year: 1842
Location: Sumter Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Fourteen citizens seek legislation to remedy the fact that a large portion of the slave population is "prohibited by those who have the power, from knowing or hearing anything of the christian religion." The petitioners believe that "the most effectual, perhaps the only way of rendering your peculiar institution permanently safe, is to remove at once, every sound objection that can, with truth, be urged against them." They further state that "it would be simple to deny that in a christian land, it is a sound, though not a conclusive, objection to that system, that your slaves may at any time be, arbitrarily, debarred from hearing the word of God." Instead, they "think that the effectual mode of sustaining your system is not by shutting your eyes to existing evils but rather by removing those evils whenever the remedy can, with safety, be applied." Of the opinion that "the present memorial ... comes within this rule," the petitioners "do not presume to suggest to your Honorable bodies the specific remedy which should be applied in this case but having called your attention to the evil they humbly pray that you will grant such ... relief as, to your wisdom & humanity, you may deem most expedient."

PAR Number 11385003

State: South Carolina Year: 1850
Location: Beaufort Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Rev. R. Fuller, a loyal citizen of South Carolina, requests permission to teach the slaves on his plantation how to read. Fuller avows that "he has ever yielded allegiance" to the laws of the state but he admits that he "owes a higher & paramount allegiance to the laws of God, and these laws require him to instruct his slaves so that they may be able to read the Scriptures." The petitioner therefore prays that "he may have permission privately & on his plantation to give instruction to his slaves so that they may be able to read the word of God."

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