Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 10380704

State: Delaware Year: 1807

Abstract: Nineteen citizens of Delaware demand the abolition of slavery in their state as, they believe, "that freedom is the natural and inalienable right of man; and that, to deprive him of it, is highly unjust, immoral, anti-christian." They argue that Delaware would benefit economically and morally from abolition citing that the end of slavery in New York brought improvements of every kind and a permanent rise in the value of real property, while slavery in Virginia "has cast Virginia down from her proud pre-eminence -- Slaves have devoured her strength." They further believe that abolition would also end “that most detestable of all crimes, so common among us, the crime of man-stealing." The petitioners therefore "confidently, yet respectfully solicit you, as the guardians of the publick welfare, to designate a day, after which all coloured children born in our State shall be free."

PAR Number 10381801

State: Delaware Year: 1818
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: Noting the "many acts of felony of pilfering & Stealing commited by the people of Colour both bound & free," residents of Dagsborough and Baltimore Hundred's, Sussex County, request the establishment of a patrol. Lamenting that "the Inhabitants are much distressed in their property such as Poltry of every kind Sheep, Smoke houses & Corn Stacks," the petitioners pray "your honourable Body to take the premises into your Serious consideration and Enact a Paterole Law to the extent that such vile practices may be done away if Posible."

PAR Number 10381823

State: Delaware Year: 1818
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: Noting the "many acts of felony of pilfering & stealing Commited by the people of Colour both Bound & free," forty-one residents of Dagsborough and Baltimore Hundred's, Sussex County, request the establishment of a patrol. Lamenting that "the Inhabitants are much Distressed in their property Such as Poltry of Every Kind Sheep, Smoke houses & Corn Stacks," the petitioners pray "your Honourable Body to take the premises into your Serious Considerations and Enact a Paterole Law to the extent that such vile practices may be done away if Possible."

PAR Number 10381824

State: Delaware Year: 1818
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: Noting the "many acts of fellony of pilfering & Stealing committed by the people of Colour both bound & free," one hundred and five residents of Dagsborough and Baltimore Hundred's, Sussex County, request the establishment of a patrol. Lamenting that "the Inhabitants are much distressed in their property such as Poltry of every kind sheep, smoke houses & Corn Stacks," the petitioners pray "your honourable Body to take the premises into your serious considerations and Enact a Paterole Law to the extent that such vile practices may be done away if posible."

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 10384708

State: Delaware Year: 1847
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: James Wilds recounts that his "indented servant ... was convicted on an indictment for burglary" and was sold for $280. Averring that a balance of $125.78 remains "after the fine and costs were all paid," Wilds therefore asks that an act be passed “granting to him the aforesaid clear balance of $125.78 as some compensation for the loss of the services of said negro."

PAR Number 11000007

State: Mississippi
Location: Adams Location Type: County

Abstract: Natchez resident Richard Terrell asks for a change of venue for the trial of his slave Henry, accused by another slave of burglary. Convicted once but granted a new trial, Henry "cannot have anything like a fair trial" in Adams County. The slave who accused Henry was a "man of bad fame."

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 11278705

State: North Carolina Year: 1787
Location: Perquimans Location Type: County

Abstract: Thomas Harvey recounts that his slave Toney "was charged with having committed a Robery for which he was tried by a Special Court, and the said negroe man Toney was adjudged guilty by the said Court & sentenced to be Hanged which Sentence was executed on the 13th day of Jany 1787." Harvey claims that his agent had sold Toney "at the time the Negroe was taken into custody" and that the purchaser, James Powell, refused to pay part of the purchase price. Left to "Arbitration," Harvey states that his agent was forced "to refund the money by him Received and that the Loss should be his." Harvey therefore prays that he be granted "such sum for the said Slave as you in your Wisdom shall think Just."

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 11279107

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

Abstract: John Housman laments the loss of his slave Sampson, who was hanged for various felonies, including robbery and assault. Housman claims that he was entirely ignorant of his slave's behavior and did not know that Sampson had bludgeoned a white man with a hatchet head. Housman, now "far advanced in life" and the head of a large family, asks for relief.

PAR Number 11279210

State: North Carolina Year: 1792
Location: Franklin Location Type: County

Abstract: Nine Franklin County Justices of the Peace represent that John Webb, the "at present and acting Justice of the peace ... Stands charged with vices and crimes So immoral and unbecoming the Dignity of a Magistrate, that they cannot with a Suitable Degree of Respect for themselves and the office they hold continue to act in concert with him." They accuse Webb of "Seducing & Trading with Slaves prevailing with them to plunder their Masters and turning this to his own advantage." They therefore pray that the said Webb be prevented "from acting in his Said Capacity of Justice of the Peace until time is given for him either to acquit himself of this charge or that he may be convicted thereof."

PAR Number 11279211

State: North Carolina Year: 1792
Location: Wake Location Type: County

Abstract: Samuel Parker asks that a new Continental Certificate be issued to replace the one that was "stolen out of his house by a small negroe Boy of his." Parker recounts that his eight-year-old slave stole "Two Continental Certificates of the sum of Twenty Seven pounds Fifteen Shillings & Six pence Each" and concealed the same "where he thought they never would be found." He states however, that "a Negroe girl of his" found one of said certificates, "very much defaced," in the woods, whereupon "a Deligient serch [was] made for the other but it never Could be found." The petitioner prays that "your Honourable Body will Conceive these Surcomstances to be Sufficient Demonstration that the Said Certificate is destroyed and is not in the hands of Any person" and that "your Honours will Grant that a New Certificate be Issued in Lue and Stead of the Same."

PAR Number 11279305

State: North Carolina Year: 1793
Location: Beaufort Location Type: County

Abstract: Nathan Keas reports that in late 1788 and early 1789 "he was unfortunately robbed by one of his Domesticks, to Wit, a negro woman, of the Cash he had collected for the state to amount of Five hundred pounds and upwards of the present current money." He states that said the "most trusted" woman "took the money occasionally and as She could by Accident become possessed of the Keys of those Drawers in the Desk in which the Cash was kept." When the theft was finally discovered, the money had been "all Spent and Wasted" by her and some fellow slaves; the only things recovered were "a few articles of Clothing which had been purchased and made up by the Wench who committed the Deed." Keas, not being a wealthy man, proposes that he be permitted "to pay the Same into the Treasury in the present Currency of the State, adding to the Sum So to be paid in, the Depreciation or difference between the estimated value of the Cash Stolen and the present value of the paper money of this State." He prays for "this indulgence ... because he thinks it but Justice, and because ... the sum of Five hundred pounds [is] a great deal for a man of small fortune to loss."

PAR Number 11279604

State: North Carolina Year: 1796
Location: Chatham Location Type: County

Abstract: James Massey states that he "had the misfortune ... to have an only Negroe fellow by the name of Hardy, through the persuation of a company of thieves to commit a robery & breaking open a bar room." Massey recounts that Hardy "was tried and found guilty of the offence aforesaid ... and sentenced by three Justices of the peace to be hanged." The petitioner further reports that "a number of respectable inhabitants, as well as a number of the Jurors who tried said negroe slave, petitioned His Excellency the Governor to extend his Mercy towards the said Slave." Massey laments that the Governor did send a reprieve said sentence, "but unfortunately for your petitioner the messenger sent for that purpose had the misfortune of loosing his Horse whereby the reprieve came too late." Massey therefore prays that he granted "such relief as the justice of the case may require."

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 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 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 11282904

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

Abstract: William Murchie asks that his privileges as a citizen be restored after having been convicted and imprisoned for "the harbouring of a slave" who allegedly had stolen certain goods. Murchie asserts that his only "error or fault" lay in not informing against his father-in-law, Charles Roach, with whom he lived and to whom he had been apprenticed. He further reveals that his wife was not a widow as she represented but instead "the first husband of his supposed wife was alive." Having "wholly separated himself from her and her connections," Murchie asserts that "he has demeaned himself in such a way as to secure ... the countenance of the respectable part of society" and that he has "married into a decent family." The petitioner therefore prays "of your honorable body to remove the legal stigma which may remain upon his name."

PAR Number 11282906

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

Abstract: Fifty-two Craven County residents support William B. Murchie who "is about to apply for an Act to restore him to credit." Murchie lost his good name after being convicted and imprisoned for harboring a slave.

PAR Number 11283105

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

Abstract: Eighty-seven residents of Lenoir County seek "to exclude all coloured retailers of Cakes, spirits &c from its limits," except those licensed by the county court. They are convinced that the "free negroes & slaves hiring their time, from the adjoining Counties ... have not only produced serious loss & inconvenience by the temptations which are thus held out to their slaves, to steal lambs, pigs, & poultry to barter with them," but also they firmly aver that said persons "do a far more serious & incalculable injury by the facilities thus afforded for the dissemination of seditious writings & notions," noting that "these black pedlars have it in their power to distribute, without suspicion, in every nook ... in the County, the pamphlets ... as well as communicate verbally the murderous plans of a Nat Turner." The petitioners therefore pray that "your Honourable Body ... will further legislate on this matter."

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."

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