Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 10379002

State: Delaware Year: 1790
Location: New Castle Location Type: County

Abstract: Sluyter Bouchell represents that "he was altogether ignorant of any Law whatever forbidding the bringing Slaves in the State under any circumstances." Dr. Bouchell admits that, while administrating the estate of Thomas Witherspoon, "he found it necessary to purchase some additional Slaves whom he brought over about the time of his removal into this State from the State of Maryland." Noting that Abraham, Edward, William, and Rainy have "since instituted their actions for their Freedom," the petitioner asserts "that the Slaves all came willingly into the service of your Petitioner and as he believes are still content to serve him but as they have been instigated by some officious persons to apply for there Freedoms." Bouchell asks the legislature to assist him in preventing β€œthe loss of said Slaves.”

PAR Number 10380901

State: Delaware Year: 1809
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Zachariah Pritchett represents that "the parents of a certain negro lad named George who had been living as free people for near twenty years, placed their son out to service with your petitioner." He further relates that Ezekiel Anderson approached his father, Major Anderson, a justice of the peace, and "complained that your petitioner had obtained the possession of this negro lad whom the said Ezekiel claimed as his property (altho' free born and never bound to him, until lately the said Ezekiel has prevailed upon him without the knowledge or consent of his parents to bind himself before a justice of the peace).” Pritchett cites that Major Anderson issued a warrant that charged him with harbouring George and alleged that George was a runaway slave; George, whilst working in the field, was seized and delivered to said Ezekiel. The petitioner asks that Major Anderson be dismissed as a Justice of the Peace, on the grounds that he had conducted himself in a "most arbitrary" and oppressive manner and that he had knowingly subverted law and justice; moreover, Pritchett contends, "he is grossly ignorant of his office and of the powers vested in him by the law."

PAR Number 10381001

State: Delaware Year: 1810
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Thirteen petitioners represent that they "have long considered certain parts of the law relative to the petitions of Negroes for their freedom as unjust and oppressive to their Masters." They assert that the filing process "produces an inevitable loss of service for that time beside the risk of an entire loss of such slave by affording him an opportunity of escaping beyond the reach of apprehension." In addition, they complain that "in every case whatever may be the decision and however unfounded the pretensions to freedom the Master is compelled to pay all costs of suit beside suffering other great expense and trouble." They therefore "respectfully suggest that so long as our Laws admit Slavery and the distinction of Master and Servant to exist they should be founded on principles of impartiality and equal justice towards both."

PAR Number 10382308

State: Delaware Year: 1823

Abstract: Twenty citizens ask "for an alteration in the Law so far as respects masters & apprintises, the present Law bean hard on the master." All too often, the petitioners contend, an apprentice would remain with his master until he reached the age of seventeen or eighteen years and then would run away. If the runaway returned or was caught, the master was responsible for any illnesses "which would disable him from work so as to become a charge to the county." The citizens ask that the law be amended to strengthen the position of masters.

PAR Number 10382619

State: Delaware Year: 1826
Location: New Castle Location Type: County

Abstract: Thomas Smith states that eighteen-year-old Nathan, a slave held by Mary Ann Harper of Queen Anne's County, Maryland, "absconded from her service and came into new Castle county where he at present remains." He relates that "Nathan applied to your Petitioner to purchase him understanding that his mistress would sell him to Georgia if he was apprehended and returned to her possession." The petitioner reveals that he "is anxious to prevent the said Slave from being sold to Georgia" and he has agreed with Harper "to purchase from her the said slave if he can obtain permission to hold him as a Slave in this state." He therefore prays "that an act may pass authorising him to purchase the said Nathan and hold him as a Slave in this State."

PAR Number 10382904

State: Delaware Year: 1829
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Elias Naudain seeks permission to sell the time remaining in his apprenticeship of James Rodney, a free person of color. Naudain, a blacksmith, recounts that Rodney "was bound to him" in 1826 and that Rodney shortly thereafter "ran away from me and left my employment on or about the night of the nineteenth or twentieth of February last." He further states that "on the night of the nineteenth my blacksmith shop was burned down" and that Rodney went to Philadelphia where he remained until 23 August, "when he returned to my neighbourhood and remained concealed until the night of the first of September on which night my stable was burnt down and six head of Horses burned in it." Naudain reports that his slave James Lee, along with Rodney, was jailed for the arsons and that each accused the other of putting "fire to the building." Revealing that he has been granted "a permit to sell the said James Lee out of state," the petitioner prays that he may be also allowed to sell "the balance of the time" Rodney may have to serve him."

PAR Number 10382905

State: Delaware Year: 1829

Abstract: Constable William Warnock and John Engles seek the reward posted by the Governor of Delaware "for the apprehension of a certain Samuel Ogg a black man who has escaped from jail in Dover ... where he was confined for robbery and an attempt to murder." The petitioners avow that they "were the only persons concerned in the actual apprehension taking and securing of the Said negro who was a powerful man and had a loaded pistol in his hat at the time of said taking." They therefore pray "that an appropriation of the amount stipulated [$200] to be paid for the apprehension of said fugitive may now be made in favour of your Petitioners the only persons justly and legally entitled to the Same."

PAR Number 10383101

State: Delaware Year: 1831
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: Free man of color William Toast, alias William Collins, was convicted in the Court of Quarter Sessions of Sussex County in 1828 for stealing $5.50 and sentenced to a term of seven years in slavery. Purchased by Benjamin Potter Jr., Toast absconded to Philadelphia. Toast later returned, was again convicted of theft, and was sentenced to "be publickly w hipped with twenty one lashes on his bare back well laid on" and "that he be disposed of as a Servant to the highest and best bidder or bidders for the term of seven years." Potter seeks compensation for court costs and restitution.

PAR Number 10383501

State: Delaware Year: 1835
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: Elijah Gordy states that he purchased Isaac Tyre, "an Excellent Black Smith," for $331 in 1832. He cites that the said Tyre had been convicted of kidnapping and had been sentenced "to be publickly whipped with sixty lashes on his bare back well laid on" after which he was then to be committed to three years solitary confinement in the public jail of Sussex County; "at the expiration of the time of his imprisonment he [was to] be disposed of as a Servant for the term of seven years." Gordy notes that the governor "remitted the imprisonment of three years." The petitioner charges the "said Isaac Tyre, made his escape from the Public Jail of this County of Sussex, within a few days after your petitioner purchased him and he has not been heard of since." Contending that "the weakness and insecurity of the Public Jail gave afforded the said Isaac the opportunity to escape,” Gordy prays "the passing a Law for his relief."

PAR Number 10384309

State: Delaware Year: 1843
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Andrew Gray states that his twenty-one-year-old slave Charles was arrested and jailed for theft in 1809. He further reveals that said Charles "after he was arrested and committed, did with other prisoners break gaol and escape, and has never since been heard of." The petitioner, thirty-four years later, now seeks compensation for the loss of the slave Charles, "for which he has not yet been indemnified."

PAR Number 10384310

State: Delaware Year: 1843
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Andrew Gray asks the legislature to reconsider its decision to reject his original petition of January 1843, and he asks again for compensation for his slave Charles, who was arrested and escaped from jail in 1809. Gray suggests that said rejection may stem from "a latent objection in the minds of some to passing it because of the unpopularity attached to the name of a slaveholder at this day. To them, if any there be, I would say, that although a slaveholder, I am both a professed and practiced abolitionist." Gray asserts that he "inherited a family of young slaves, two of whom only were above the age of twenty one and the whole have been long since liberated." Estimating the value of the freed male slaves to be $400 at the time, he deems it "was a sacrifice which abolitionists who never owned a negro have not incurred and consequently have not given the proof of their zeal in the cause of emancipation."

PAR Number 10384501

State: Delaware Year: 1845
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Andrew Gray states that his twenty-one-year-old slave Charles was arrested and jailed for theft in 1809. He further reveals that said Charles "after he was arrested and committed did with other prisoners break gaol and escape, and has never since been heard of." The petitioner, thirty-six years later, now seeks compensation for the loss of the slave Charles, as he "has, as he thinks a claim on the state for indemnification." Gray offers certain "observations in support of my petition to allow me a compensation for the loss of my negro slave Charles," in which he states that he is "and always have been friendly to the gradual liberation of negro slaves, and the colonization of them after their liberation." He goes on to recount that he "inherited a family of slaves, all of whom have been long since liberated," estimating the value of the freed male slaves to be $400 at the time. This, he proclaims, "was a sacrifice which abolitionists, who never owned a negro, have not incurred, and consequently have not given the proof of their zeal in the cause of emancipation."

PAR Number 10384903

State: Delaware Year: 1849

Abstract: Twenty-nine residents of the Camden area seek a special legislative act to punish the "notorious Samuel D. Burris, well known to a large portion of the community whose conduct is highly reprehensible ... being a notorious character, who is going about the county they believe persuading and enticing slaves Servants and apprentices to run away and leave their Homes, to the great disadvantage of the Community." They point out that Burris "was accused, apprehended, tried and found Guilty agreeable to Law, after which he was Sold as Servant, and bot by some men who suffered him to go about amongst as and continue the same unjustifiable employment." The petitioners "request Your Honors to pass some Law to reach his Case and effectully stop such conduct."

PAR Number 11000020

State: Mississippi
Location: Monroe Location Type: County

Abstract: Bartlet Sims, former sheriff of Monroe County, requests payment of $30 from the legislature for advertising two runaway slaves, Peter and John. Sims had put the slaves in the Monroe County jail, but it was "wholly insufficient to answer the ends of public justice." The jail was so inadequate that the two men "got out and made their escape so that they could not be got."

PAR Number 11080601

State: Mississippi Year: 1806
Location: Adams Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1804 Israel Leonard purchased a slave named Samuel for $600. A few months later, however, Samuel sued for his freedom. The sheriff took the slave into custody, but Samuel escaped. Leonard sued the sheriff but the jury rendered a verdict in favor of the sheriff, alleging that the poor conditions of the jail for safekeeping were not the responsibility of the sheriff but the county. They advised that Leonard should seek compensation from the county. Leonard asks the legislature to force the county to pay him for the loss of his slave.

PAR Number 11080901

State: Mississippi Year: 1809
Location: Adams Location Type: County

Abstract: Michael Bruner, jailer of Adams County, complains about the cost of maintaining prisoners. The state law concerning runaway slaves, for example, required that absentee slaves be reported as lost by their masters or overseers. When absconders were taken up but not so reported, the master was not responsible for paying jail fees. Consequently, some slave owners knowingly left their slaves in jail for months at the county's expense. He asks for relief.

PAR Number 11081501

State: Mississippi Year: 1815
Location: Wilkinson Location Type: County

Abstract: The petitioner, Benajah Randle, informs the court that a few months earlier, an American Indian brought to him a slave by the name of Toney, who, after questioning, was found to belong to one John Brown of Wilkinson County. Randle, mindful of his duties as a good citizen, took the slave over to Washington jail in Adams County. The slave died in jail a short time later. Illiterate, poor, and with a large family, Randle seeks reimbursement for expenses incurred in fulfilling his responsibilities.

PAR Number 11082701

State: Mississippi Year: 1827
Location: Wilkinson Location Type: County

Abstract: John Bryce claims that he purchased at a sheriff's auction in Wilkinson County a purported runaway slave named George for the sum of $301. When it was learned that George was in fact a free man of color named Harry Singer, also known as Henry, Bryce lost his purchase money. He presented a claim to the county but received only $187.03. He asks the legislature to make up the difference and pay him "the amount actually paid into the treasury of his county."

PAR Number 11083102

State: Mississippi Year: 1831
Location: Covington Location Type: County

Abstract: Jacob Duckworth seeks compensation for expenses incurred pursuing, apprehending, and prosecuting a "negro man" named Henry, who murdered his slave Peter. Duckworth informs the court that he journeyed into Alabama, through the Choctaw Nation, and as far as Baton Rouge, Louisiana, before catching up with the fugitive. His expenses, "labor and travelling," amounted to $229.25. The court decree reveals that Henry was a slave, but no information is provided regarding his owner.

PAR Number 11083308

State: Mississippi Year: 1833
Location: Simpson Location Type: County

Abstract: William Tolar and Rolin Williams seek compensation for expenses incurred apprehending three escaped prisoners from the Simpson County jail. The three included Samuel Pool, charged with larceny, and two slaves held as runaways. The pursuers "ran great risk & peril of their lives." Tolar was severely cut by one of the slaves and unable to do "any Kind of labour for near two months."

PAR Number 11184602

State: Missouri Year: 1846
Location: St. Louis Location Type: County

Abstract: The petitioner states that in November 1844 he asked that his slave William be placed in jail as a runaway and kept there for safekeeping until such time as he could dispose of him. However, on 11 January 1845, the judge of the St. Louis criminal court ordered that William testify in the case of the State v. G. W. Goode. William was confined sixty-six days, during which time Beirne could neither use his services nor dispose of him, all to his master's "great inconvenience, prejudice and damage." Beirne seeks payment of the "usual fees in such cases."

PAR Number 11184604

State: Missouri Year: 1846
Location: St. Louis Location Type: County

Abstract: St. Louis County jailer explains that two runaway slaves--Edward Ellsey and William Anderson--were committed to his jail in 1843 and kept there for a considerable period until they were sold at auction. Anderson, for example, remained incarcerated 478 days. The jailer asks for reimbursement of expenses over and above the amount brought in when the two were sold.

PAR Number 11278803

State: North Carolina Year: 1788
Location: Brunswick Location Type: County

Abstract: Thomas Lucas represents that his slave named Peter, "not liking the man your Petitioner placed him to work with, ran away." He further states that Peter was later apprehended for "having robbed an Hen house" and was "precipitately tried & executed, more your Petitioner believes from a supposed necessity of striking terror into a Gang of Runaways who infested the said Town & neighbourhood than from any particular act of villainy in the said Slave." Lucas "hopes that considering his misfortunes & low Estate ... will induce your Honors to indemnify him for the Execution of the said Negro which otherwise will increase his losses & at his private Expence have been made a Sacrifice to publick Policy."

PAR Number 11278902

State: North Carolina Year: 1789
Location: New Hanover Location Type: County

Abstract: John Walker seeks compensation for his slave Galloway, who was "a Valluable Tradesman" killed in 1780 as an outlawed runaway, "lurking in Swamps, Woods, and other obscure Places, committing Injuries to the Inhabitants of this State."

PAR Number 11279506

State: North Carolina Year: 1795
Location: Pasquotank Location Type: County

Abstract: Miriam Lowe, the widow of John Lowe, explains that her late husband "became Bail for the appearance of a negro woman who was taken up as a liberated Slave under the Existing Laws of the State and to be tryed." She further relates that "said negro woman Eloped or was Carried out of the County, whereby the Said John Lowe was Subjected to the forfeiture of one Hundred pounds, which sum if exacted from the Estate of said Decd. will reduce your petitioner with four small Children to the utmost distress." The petitioner therefore prays that an act be passed "to remit the aforesaid Judgment in order to relieve the Distresses aforsd."

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