Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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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 11086009

State: Mississippi Year: 1860
Location: Marshall Location Type: County

Abstract: Marshall County "jailor" C. T. Furr requests compensation for expenses incurred while housing a slave named Anthony, accused of burning a gin house. Anthony was tried and released. Incarcerated on 26 October 1858, Anthony, the property of W. S. Taylor, remained in jail until 19 April 1859, a total of 166 days. At 40 cents per day, and $2 for two turn keys, the county should be reimbursed $68.40.

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 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 11277901

State: North Carolina Year: 1779
Location: Bladen Location Type: County

Abstract: In behalf of "the inhabitants in the Upper part of Bladen County," Jacob Alford confides that "your petitioners are in Constant dread & Fear of Being Robbed and Murdered by A Set of Robbers and Horse Thiefs, which have been among us this week to the number of About Forty, who have Commited A Great deal of Mischief Already." He reveals that they, along with residents of Anson County, have "had their House Broke and All Their Cloathes Taken from Them ... Many had all Their Cattle taken Away from them & their Corn Robbd out of Their Cribs, by which many of Them are entirely undone & Ruined." Alford suggests that "the most part of the Robbers are Molattoes, and Chiefly Came from the South province when the Vagrant Act Came among Them." They therefore "lay our distresses and our unhappy Case before your Honourable Assembly" in hopes that “youl take our unfortunate situation unto you humain Consideration."

PAR Number 11279101

State: North Carolina Year: 1791
Location: New Hanover Location Type: County

Abstract: “Sundry inhabitants of the County of New Hanover” complain about “the almost total distruction of your petitioners Stock.” They point out that “a number of gentlemen” own lands adjacent to theirs, on which the said owners “keep a number of Negroes cultivating the same but the said gentlemen will not fence their fields when cultivated by which means the Cattle & Hoggs of your petitioners range through them and destroy their Crops.” The petitioners charge that their “oppulent neighbours,” being “incensed at the depredations” by the livestock, “supply their negroes with amunition and fire arms with directions to distroy the Cattle & Hoggs of your petitioners.” They therefore pray that “owners of cultivated grounds” be compelled “to keep the same fenced” and that “the pains & penalties on Negroes committing such depredations with fire arms and other instruments of distruction to Cattle” be strengthened.

PAR Number 11279108

State: North Carolina Year: 1791
Location: Rowan Location Type: County

Abstract: John Loop represents that, "During the late Contest between the united States and Great Brittan,” he suffered the loss of grain, fodder, hay, fencing, and his barn at the hands of William Spurgens and was taken prisoner by said Spurgens. He further states that he received a slave named Simon in 1785 from Spurgens as compensation for his losses. Loop now asserts that Charles Bruce, the Commissioner of Confiscated Property "for the district of Sallisbury" has "Brought Sute against him for sd boy in behalf of the State." He therefore prays that "your Honourabel Body" will "pass a Resolve in favour of your Memorialist."

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 11280208

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

Abstract: Francis Bell seeks to be compensated for the death of his horse "of considerable value." He recalls that, when in the past summer "a plot of a most alarming nature was discovered, which threatened to involve the whole country in the deepest calamity," he responded to the "order of the commanding officer stationed at the Town of Winslow," to give up his horse to said officer, which resulted in the horse's death due to "excessive riding." Bell notes that his "loss happened on a service which it was not his particular duty to perform" and that "it was incurred in obedience to the command of a public officer." Of the opinion that said "danger affected not merely himself, but every Citizen of the State," he prays that "his case may be taken into consideration, and that such relief may be granted as shall be deemed meet and equitable."

PAR Number 11280209

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

Abstract: Residents of Northampton County call the "serious attention of the Legislature" to the subject of slave insurrections. Noting that the only Act to address such a subject "was passed in the year 1741," they assert that more measures need to taken "for the suppression of this alarming mischief." They further point to the "circumstances which have taken place in the West Indies during the late war, with some internal causes, have concurred to change considerably the habits of subordination among the Slaves, and your Memorialists are convinced that a firm and steady police are indispensably necessary to keep them in their present condition, and avert those evils which must be the necessary consequences of constant efforts to effect their freedom by insurrection." They therefore "permit themselves to hope for considerable improvements in our police from a careful revision of the patrol Laws."

PAR Number 11280708

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

Abstract: George Howard declares that he was indicted in 1802 "for acting agreeable to orders given him by John Williams Lt. Col." to search "in the time of the Insurrection of the Negroes"; for his actions, Howard incurred steep fines. Admitting that the said indictment and suit "has ruined and broke him up," Howard puts forth "that the Legislator of this State never contemplated that any Individual should suffer for doing his duty as all true Subjects ought to do." The petitioner therefore prays that his case be taken into consideration, that his fine be remitted, and that the "monies he has unjustly been compelled to pay" be returned to him. Lt. Col. Williams's order to Howard stated: "You are hereby commanded to take proper assistance with you and pattroll the Narrows Shore district and search all negro houses and all persons that you Suspect and take all kind of arms ammunition and Every other utensil that you think necessary for the Purpose of Such Depreditions also to take the negroes that such Property should be found on."

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 11282801

State: North Carolina Year: 1828
Location: Craven Location Type: County

Abstract: Fifteen members of a Craven County grand jury join twenty other county residents in representing that a "great inconvenience and injury arise to them and others from the constant and growing practice of persons of colour hunting with dogs and guns." The petitioners argue that said free blacks, "under the pretext of seeking game," commit numerous "depredations upon the farms, by killing stock of every description." They therefore ask that the existing laws prohibiting slaves from hunting be amended to include "all persons of colour," not just slaves.

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 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 11284404

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

Abstract: Twenty-three citizens of McDowell County seek the passage of a law which would impose a heavy fine on "men and minors and black people" who allow their dogs to run loose on "States land and other peoples" land, resulting in "ther dogs killing ... sheep and some Cow beasts."

PAR Number 11285409

State: North Carolina Year: 1854
Location: Mecklenburg Location Type: County

Abstract: One hundred forty-six residents of Mecklenburg County feel themselves "greatly Harrassed and annoyed by the frequent depredations committed on our Poultry Yards by Negroes." They therefore respectfully "petition your Honorable Body for the Passage of a Law Prohibiting entirely, the trade & traffic with Negroes, for either 'Eggs or Poultry.'"

PAR Number 11285410

State: North Carolina Year: 1854

Abstract: The North Carolina Agricultural Society seeks new laws to protect sheep from being killed by dogs. Thomas Ruffin, president of said society, contends that many slaves own dogs that commit such depredations, whereby "the master would be liable for damages done by the slaves' dog." He therefore suggests that the legislature impose a tax on dogs. Ruffin hopes such a taxation will "indirectly induce persons not to have more dogs than they really need for the purpose of guarding their premises, destroying wild beasts of prey, or hunting game for food -- purposes which your memorialists certainly do not want to thwart.” However, “beyond those purposes, dogs are kept merely for amusement, or wantonly for mischief" and it is these dogs, he surmises, that "are therefore proper subjects for taxation."

PAR Number 11286001

State: North Carolina Year: 1860
Location: Mecklenburg Location Type: County

Abstract: One hundred ninety-four Mecklenburg, Iredell, and Cabarrus county residents demand "a more stringent law, to meet the exigency of the times." They point to "the unpaid and inefficient system of Patrol" as the "causes in which crime and insubordination have their outbirth." The petitioners charge that, in addition to the "incendiaries from abroad," it is the "evil-disposed persons located in our midst who carry on an unlawful traffic with slaves" which induces them to commit murder, robbery, and arson. They further believe that punishments for said crimes are "totally inadequate."

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