Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11279513

State: North Carolina Year: 1795
Location: New Hanover Location Type: County

Abstract: Henry Taylor requests compensation for being shot in the shoulder while hunting runaway slaves. Taylor recounts that he endeavored "to put a stop" to the depredations committed by "a number of outlying runaway [that] had collected themselves together" to rob and to kill and destroy the stock of "the Inhabitants of the counties of Brunswick and New Hanover." While on such duty, he explains, a fellow patroller, being suddenly awakened by him, "shot your memorialist through the Shoulder." Unable to pay the surgeon's fee of £60, Taylor asks "your Honorable body to take his case into consideration and grant him such releif as you shall think meet and proper."

PAR Number 11279606

State: North Carolina Year: 1796
Location: New Hanover Location Type: County

Abstract: Henry Taylor requests compensation for being shot in the shoulder while hunting runaway slaves. He recounts that he "thought it his duty to aid and assist" in putting a stop to the "outrages committed by a number of runaway negroes, in the County of New Hanover" as "the safety of the people made it necessary that vigorous and speedy measures should be taken to suppress the various depredations committed by” said outlyers. Taylor explains that, while on such duty, "he was unfortunately shot through the shoulder & has been a cripple ever since." He further asserts that he is unable to pay the surgeon's fee of "one hundred Spanish milled Dollars" and that he is no longer able to continue his trade of blacksmith. Noting that said wound was received "in rendering service to his Country," he prays that "your Honorable body will grant him such releif as in your justice and wisdom may be thought proper."

PAR Number 11280202

State: North Carolina Year: 1802
Location: Chatham Location Type: County

Abstract: One hundred and six "inhabitants of Chatham County" support the petition of Lard Sellars, who sought relief in connection with his killing of the slave Arthur, "the property of Edward Jones." The petitioners consider Sellars to be a "honest, industrious well meaning man." They further declare that he considered "it his duty as a military officer to endeavor to apprehend the Said Negro Arthur," who "was run away from his master and going at large reported to have been armed commiting depridations and denouncing threats and menacing the inhabitants to the great terror of Women & Children particularly." Conceiving said shooting "to be a meritorious" act, they pray that a law be passed "impowering the County Court of Chatham to levy a tax on the County sufficient to indemnify Captain Sellars."

PAR Number 11280207

State: North Carolina Year: 1802
Location: Nash Location Type: County

Abstract: John Jones seeks compensation for a slave that he purchased "for the purpose, of selling him" in Georgia. Jones reports that said slave "ran away from your petitioner and returned to North Carolina where for his villainous actions was Sentenced to death and accordingly executed." He therefore prays that a resolution be passed "directing the Treasurer to pay to him a sum equal to the loss he sustained thereby."

PAR Number 11280703

State: North Carolina Year: 1807
Location: Randolph Location Type: County

Abstract: James Alexander Sr. and his son James Alexander Jr. are "bail for the appearance of Joseph Alexander who was accused for haveing [persuaded] a Negro man a way from his Master." They declare that the said Joseph "has absconded" and that they have used all possible means "to bring him to Cort but has failed." With a judgment of one hundred pounds "hanging over us," the petitioners pray "your Honorable boddy to remit the Said recognicence or any part of it as you in your wisdom may think Propper."

PAR Number 11281904

State: North Carolina Year: 1819
Location: Johnson Location Type: County

Abstract: Fourteen men ask the governor to grant leniency to John McLeod, a resident of Johnson County who "engaged in a transaction which was supposed to eventuate in the death of a negro man." McLeod's supporters recount that the accused "first gave the fellow a flogging (by the master's permission) with a view of extorting from him a confession of the place of concealment of one of the Said McLeod's negroes, whom he was confidently informed the Said Deceased had harboured." They further explain that "Mr. Sumner, the owner, chastised said deceased (for conduct entirely unconnected with the object of McLeod's whipping) and then committed the offender to prison, where he died in the space of an hour or so." The petitioners insist that McLeod "has sustained from his infancy, a fair unblemished character" and that he could not have anticipated "that the severity of the punishment would be so great as to fix irrevocably the fate of the negroe." They therefore pray that "your Excellency will be pleased ... to stay any further proceedings against him, and permit him to resume that Station in Society which he believes he has not justly forfeited." A witness to the whipping attests that Isom's head was tied "in a fence" and he was "lying over a Barrell" when McLeod whipped him; that he was whipped "with a leather strop chiefly on his buttocks”; that Sumner whipped "the said negro Isom with a cow Skin ... the number of strips given by McLeod & Sumner did not exceed One hundred." The witness then relates that Isom was dragged "on his rump" to the jail. The witness thinks "the said negro was not whipped unmercifully."

PAR Number 11282206

State: North Carolina Year: 1822
Location: Craven Location Type: County

Abstract: Captain John Rhem, on behalf of himself and fellow members of the Craven County militia, "appeals to the Justice and Gratitude of this Country, for Indemnity against the pecuniary portion of their sufferings" stemming from wounds received while on patrol. During the summer of 1821 "a number of negroes were collected together in arms, and were going about the counties of Craven, Carteret, Onslow, and Jones Counties committing thefts, and alarming the inhabitants of said Counties. The outrages of these villains became so frequent and daring that ... it was thought necessary to adopt measures either to arrest or to disperse them." On 10 August, Craven county officials ordered the militia regiment to patrol the county and to "arrest all negroes whom he should meet armed or traveling under suspicious circumstances." After midnight on 21 August 1821 Rhem and eight of his men encountered five armed men on the Street's Bridge across the Neuse River. Rhem called out to the men to identify themselves. The men responded with gunshots. Rhem was shot through the right lung, and his arm was shattered. Alexander Taylor was shot through the head and his other officers received various wounds. The two armed parties then retreated, waiting for daylight to learn the size of the opposing force. The next morning Rhem discovered that it was not armed blacks whom he had engaged the night before but rather a group of nervous whites who lived in the area and "had turned out to patrol from the same alarm which had brought your petitioners party into service, and who ignorant of your petitioners station had mistaken his party for blacks and had fired under that mistake." Considering they "were on a duty which put at hazard their own lives, to preserve the peace and dignity of the State," the petitioners, "probably disabled for life," seek restitution for medical expenses and financial assistance.

PAR Number 11282207

State: North Carolina Year: 1822
Location: Carteret Location Type: County

Abstract: Terence Pelletier, James Noe, and George Piner seek compensation for their service in the militia. They report that Colonel John H. Hill of Carteret County ordered them to help "suppress the depredations, which a number of negroes who had collected themselves together under arms, were going about the country committing." They assert that the act "which compelled them to serve, declared that they should be paid." The petitioners therefore pray that they be granted compensation. The report of the Committee of Claims supports the order of calling out the militia as it was necessary “to apprehend & suppress a number of Runaway negroes who were collected together in said County under arms and were committing many depredations on the property of good people ... and by their increasing numbers and threatening attitude much more mischief was apprehended and great alarm spread among the Citizens.”

PAR Number 11282301

State: North Carolina Year: 1823

Abstract: Jarrad Weaver seeks compensation for his slave David who "without any known ill usage or justifiable cause ran away from the services of your petitioner." Weaver reports that David was armed and "remained lurking about in the neighbourhood, doing & committing divers mischief, and depredations" until "a party of young men" discovered his whereabouts and attempted to apprehend him. He states that David resisted their efforts to seize him and that said men "were compelled to use violence and in so doing, the said David was shot dead." Citing the 1741 law wherein compensation is afforded to the owners "of such runaway slaves as may happen to be killed in the attempt to apprehend them," Weaver asks that he be granted such "suitable allowance" as he may be deemed "fairly entitled to."

PAR Number 11282303

State: North Carolina Year: 1823
Location: Onslow Location Type: County

Abstract: William L. Hill, Colonel of the Onslow Militia, seeks compensation for his men who "were in regular Service for the space of Twenty six days in the months of August and September, a busy and unhealthy season of the year." Hill explains that "During the Summer of 1821 an insurrection broke out among a number of outlawed and runaway slaves and free negroes in said County." He exclaims that "an universal panic pervaded the county" as the band had "ravaged farms, burnt houses and ravished a number of females." In response, Hill took measures to restore "public safety" by activating the militia to pursue the well armed "daring, cunning and desperate slaves," who "had long defied the Civil authority." Hill further relates that his men's efforts to suppress the said insurrection exposed them "to every privation and inclemency of the weather, in exploring woods, swamps, & marshes." Noting that the men "have never received their pay agreeably to said act of Assembly," the petitioner prays "your Honorable body to direct the same by resolution."

PAR Number 11282505

State: North Carolina Year: 1825
Location: Carteret Location Type: County

Abstract: Colonel John H. Hill of the Carteret County seeks compensation for his militia regiment called out in August 1821 to "suppress a number of slaves and free persons of colour who had collected with arms and were going about the County aforesaid, committing thefts and alarming the inhabitants." The regiment was successful in its twenty-five-day mission, and Hill asserts that according to a 1795 law his men should receive the same pay and rations "as the troops of the United States when in actual service."

PAR Number 11282709

State: North Carolina Year: 1827
Location: Northampton Location Type: County

Abstract: Ransom Cassel, currently "in very indigent circumstances," seeks compensation for a runaway slave named Austin, who was killed in an attempt to apprehend said slave in 1813 or 1814. Cassel avers that he would have petitioned the legislature sooner had he known that a section of the 1741 law dealing with such cases had been repealed prior to Austin's death. The petitioner therefore prays "your Honorable body to make him a suitable allowance for the said slave according to the valuation affixed by the County Court."

PAR Number 11282903

State: North Carolina Year: 1829
Location: Lenoir Location Type: County

Abstract: One hundred thirty-seven residents of Lenoir County "have long felt the need of Legislative aid, to alleviate the grievances, and perhaps save the life of several of our Citizens from being lost ... [or] wounded by Trying to apprehend those outlyers or runaway Negroes." The petitioners assert that "if a white man should happen to take the life of a runaway negro in Trying to apprehend Said Slave, it is a violation of the law" and the man is "bound to pay for Such Slave." They further declare that "in consequence of the law as it now is we as Citizens do not feel a willingness to risk our lives to apprehend Such Slaves." The petitioners propose instead that "the man or men who will risk his life to apprehend such negro or negroes after being run a way" from his owner for two weeks or more and "not returning home in that time" be compensated and that the said slave "should be considered ... to be Outlawed and the man Taking such negro Dead or a live Shall receive Ten dollars reward."

PAR Number 11283004

State: North Carolina Year: 1830
Location: Sampson Location Type: County

Abstract: Seventy-eight "Sundry Inhabitants of the Counties of Sampson Bladen New Hanover and Duplin" complain that "our Slaves are become Almost Uncontrolable they go and come when and where they please and if an Attempt is made to correct them they fly to the Woods and there Continue for months and years commiting grievous depredations on Our Cattle hogs and Sheep and many other things." They therefore pray that the existing patrols be better organized and that said patrols be granted "the priviledge of Shooting and destroying all Runaway Slaves who may Refuse to Submit to Said authority." They also ask that slaveholders list "all the dogs their Negroes are allowed to Raise [or] Keep" so as to "pay a tax of five dollars on Each dog so given.” The petitioners aver that the dogs kept by slaves "do great Injury to our Stocks and if we kill there dogs they will then kill our dogs our horses or Our Cows."

PAR Number 11283107

State: North Carolina Year: 1831
Location: Craven Location Type: County

Abstract: Fifty-six citizens of Craven County, who "reside upon Neuse river and the adjacent creeks above the town of New Bern," complain about "the large gangs of slaves, who come up from the Town of New Bern ... in boats, with papers from their owners ... to sell, buy, traffick, and fish" in their neighborhoods. The residents argue that by said practice they "are much injured and interrupted both in their vocations, and in the management of their farms and negroes." In addition, they assert that the self-hired blacks "corrupt the slaves of your Petitioners, induce them to run away, and when runaway employ them, in dragging skimming nets for the purpose of catching fish, and pilfering the farms of your Petitioners." They therefore ask that the acts of Assembly be nullified "with regard to Slaves hiring their own time, and likewise the subject of trading with Slaves, and also the indiscriminate permission given to them to fish at large upon the waters of this state."

PAR Number 11284403

State: North Carolina Year: 1844
Location: Halifax Location Type: County

Abstract: Seventeen Halifax County residents complain that "it has become a common occurrence for runaway negroes to provide themselves with guns in this County, & to use them in providing themselves provisions, & by threats to intimidate and frighten the timid thereby rendering their apprehension extremely difficult." They cite one example of a farmer who "lost by them seventy five hogs" where the runaways alleged "as the reason they stole from him in particular that he hunted for them; they sent him word, that if he would not hunt for them again -- they would not kill any more of his hogs -- but if he did, they should kill him." Eager "to put a stop to such monstrous outrages of the well being and order of society," the petitioners "would respectfully suggest to your honorable body the passage of a law upon the subject, based on the following principles, to wit -- the negro to be hung, & the state pay the owner for him, & that no one to be held accountable for shooting him while in the woods." They understand that "your honorable body, may perhaps think that the above principles of a law, would be too strong, we dare say they are." They assert, however, "we think strong remedies ought to be used."

PAR Number 11285006

State: North Carolina Year: 1850

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

PAR Number 11285704

State: North Carolina Year: 1857
Location: Granville Location Type: County

Abstract: R. O. Britton seeks compensation for a runaway slave named Marina, who absconded in 1845. Britton states that, prior to his marriage, his wife, Mariah P. Kennon Britton, owned the said nineteen-year-old "healthy & intelligent" Marina. He further relates that the said slave "escaped from her mistress ... in the night, in a disguised & clandestine manner," assisted by a free man of color named John Smith. The petitioner surmises that the said Smith "passed the said negro woman as his wife or sister" and obtained from the railroad ticket agent "tickets for his own & for the passage of the said Marina over the said Road to the Town of Gaston," thus enabling Marina "to make her escape to the free states." Britton therefore asks the legislature to "indemnify him for the loss which he has sustained, in right of his wife, & for which by the laws of the State, the proprietors of Said Raleigh & Gaston Rail Road are liable."

PAR Number 11379203

State: South Carolina Year: 1792
Location: Beaufort Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: John Lightwood seeks compensation for his slave, Bacchus, "who had absonded from his Service" and who "was killed by a Patrole about twelve months ago." Reporting that he is "advised that he is entitled to some compensation for him," the petitioner submits an appraisal for said slave that values Bacchus at sixty pounds sterling at "the time he was killed." The document also claims that Bacchus was killed "for Robbing Benj Davis of his Fire Arm & Arming himself therewith, havg Davis's Gun in his Hand." Bacchus had "been a Runaway for upwards of Eighteen Months."

PAR Number 11379301

State: South Carolina Year: 1793
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Susanna St. John of St. James Parish seeks compensation for the slave Titus. She recounts that her husband, Dr. Stephen St. John, purchased Titus in 1785, “for which he gave his Bond for ₤67 ... with Interest.” Susanna laments, however, that Stephen was "killed by runaway Negroes in April last" and that the said Titus "has since, been convicted of being accessory to his Death, and executed agreeable to Sentence passed the 1st of May." St. John further reveals that Titus was valued at "the Sum of Seventy Pounds" and that a certificate has been delivered to the State Treasurer directing that said sum be paid. The petitioner therefore prays "the valuation of the said Negro may be received by the Treasurer as a payment of the Bond and Interest."

PAR Number 11379310

State: South Carolina Year: 1793
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Susanna St. John of St. James Parish seeks compensation for the slave Titus. She recounts that her husband, Dr. Stephen St. John, purchased Titus in 1785, “for which he gave his Bond for ₤67 ... with Interest.” Susanna laments, however, that Stephen was "killed by runaway Negroes in April last" and that the said Titus "has since, been convicted of being accessory to his Death, and executed agreeable to Sentence passed the 1st of May." St. John further reveals that Titus was valued at "the Sum of Seventy Pounds" and that a certificate has been delivered to the State Treasurer directing that said sum be paid. The petitioner therefore prays "the valuation of the said Negro may be received by the Treasurer as a payment of the Bond and Interest."

PAR Number 11379405

State: South Carolina Year: 1794
Location: Camden Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Sylvester Dunn, “of Black River,” seeks compensation for slaves confiscated during the American Revolution. Dunn declares that he “was Divested of Twelve Negro slaves by Col. John Marshall, all which were appropriated to the use of the State Troops Under the Command of Gen. Thomas Sumpters.” He further recounts that “Three of said Negroes, Ran away from those who had them in possession and came to him” and that he was arrested because he detained said slaves. Having petitioned for relief, and being denied, Dunn “made application to the Honble Legislature for redress of Ten Negroes, but being informed of the same laid over, your petitioner now comes forward, praying your Honrs to take his Case into Consideration, and Grant him such Relief, as the Nature & Circumstance of the Case may appear to your Honrs to require.”

PAR Number 11379508

State: South Carolina Year: 1795

Abstract: John Adams recounts that in 1792 he "had the misfortune of having a valuable Negroe man (which was appraised at Eighty pounds ...) shot by a Party of Militia in pursuit of some runaways." He reports that he sent "the papers respecting the Same to the Legislature" but that his request was "rejected, as his demand came not under the Sanction of the Law." Adams requests "that your honorable house will reconsider his Case."

PAR Number 11379509

State: South Carolina Year: 1795

Abstract: John Adams recounts that in 1792 he "had the misfortune of having a valuable Negroe man (who was appraised at Eighty pounds ...) shot by a party of militia in pursuit of some runaways." He reports that he sent "the papers respecting the same to the Legislature" but that “his prayer was rejected on the belief that his demand came not under the sanction of the Law." Adams requests "that your honorable house will reconsider” his case.

PAR Number 11379705

State: South Carolina Year: 1797
Location: Williamsburgh Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Robert Gamble seeks compensation for a thirty-six-year-old slave, by trade a blacksmith, convicted "of Houseburning" and sentenced to death. Reporting that the slave "broke custody before he was executed," Gamble considers "the fellow as officially lost to him as if the execution had really taken place." The petitioner, "in an advanced period of Life," therefore "submits his case to your Honorable Body not doubting but that you will do him justice." Gamble asserts that he relied on "the income arising from" the slave's trade, which he cites as providing a "considerable support."

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