Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 10186001

State: Alabama Year: 1860
Location: Henry Location Type: County

Abstract: Harris Hays of Henry County served as an "agent" to halt the spread of smallpox during the epidemic of early 1859. He procured two slaves to work as nurses to treat the sick. One was his own slave; the other was a slave from Florida. He seeks $200 as compensation for the "hire of the said two nurses."

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 10383904

State: Delaware Year: 1839
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Former Kent County Sheriff Nehemiah Clark denies that he owes the state $136.04, as claimed in the state auditor's report. In 1828 Clark reports that Absalom Davis, a "negro man," was convicted of a crime and "sentenced by the said Court to be sold as a servant for a certain term of years, for the payment of the fine &c." Clark therefore "did proceed to dispose of said negro, by way of public sale" and sold Davis to a certain Abel Harris. When it was discovered that the Davis suffered from a life-threatening "disorder," Harris refused to pay. Supporting Harris's decision, he neither demanded the money nor took legal action, leaving a delinquency in the accounts. Clark asks the legislature for relief.

PAR Number 11000022

State: Mississippi
Location: Warren Location Type: County

Abstract: Three hundred and thirty-six citizens of Warren County write on behalf of William and his wife, who were "faithful and favorite family servants" in the white Newman family. After the death of the last descendant of the family, the couple was purchased by their present owner for the purpose of emancipating them. They have lived for many years "in a manner free," the petitioners explain. Their intercourse and dealings were "entirely with white people," and they "carefully avoided commingling with or having transactions with Slaves." During three epidemics in Vicksburg, William Newman "faithfully and carefully" distributed supplies to the "suffering and afflicted." The petitioners ask the legislature to emancipate the couple. They "are deserving of it and entitled to it."

PAR Number 11085921

State: Mississippi Year: 1859
Location: Kemper Location Type: County

Abstract: The grandson of a white woman, free man of color Johan Perrot seeks a special act allowing him to become the slave of Reverend Charles Hailey. In 1844, he journeyed with Hailey, who whom he was apprenticed, from Anson County, North Carolina, where he was born, and settled with him in Kemper County, Mississippi. Perrot is now about twenty-three years old and views Hailey as "a Kind Master and friend." For the past two years Perrot has been an invalid. He would "vastly prefer going into Slavery, than to be compelled to leave."

PAR Number 11085927

State: Mississippi Year: 1859
Location: Warren Location Type: County

Abstract: Eighty-one citizens of Jasper and Clarke counties write on behalf of Dick Dale, a free man of color who was the body servant of General Samuel Dale in the "Indians Wars." Dale performed meritorious service attending to his wounded master. Dale is now in his early sixties and in ill health; he has a family, all members of which are slaves. The residents ask the legislature to pass a bill exempting him "from the penalties of the Act requiring free persons to leave the state & that he be authorized to remain in this state as a free man of Color."

PAR Number 11085928

State: Mississippi Year: 1859
Location: Kemper Location Type: County

Abstract: Kemper County citizens most respectfully pray that the petition of free man of color named Johan Perrot be granted as consistent with "good policy." Perrot explains in his petition that he is the grandson of a white woman, that he was born in North Carolina and apprenticed there, while still a small boy, to the Reverend Charles Hailey. He came to Mississippi in 1844 and has since resided in the state. As he is an invalid, he is unable to leave the state and would like to become the property of Reverend Hailey, who has been a kind master to him.

PAR Number 11280007

State: North Carolina Year: 1800
Location: Chowan Location Type: County

Abstract: Seventy-eight-year-old Joseph Rogers laments that he "has for many years past laboured upon a Complication of diseases, and for the Preservation of his life, has been Obliged to have both his legs amputated above the knees," whereupon he is "entirely incapacitated from following any Kind of business whatsoever." Rogers reports that his "Taxable property" consists of two elderly slaves, "Both of whom are rather a Burthen and incumbrance than a benefit to him," three female slaves, four slave children, and "390 acres of land of an inferior Quality." The petitioner therefore prays a law or resolve be passed to "exempt him from the Payment of Public Taxes during the remainder of his life."

PAR Number 11280101

State: North Carolina Year: 1801

Abstract: Seventy-year-old Richard Warren, "much afflicted" with the infirmities of old age, seeks to emancipate "a negro woman Lettice," who has "for many years been a faithful servant of himself and wife." Warren explains that his wife has died and "that all his children are either dead or married and have numerous families, his youngest child being the mother of nine children and that he is now entirely dependent on the faithful services of the said negro woman Lettice, for the care of his house and property." Avowing that she is a woman of "uncommon faithfulness," Warren prays "that the General Assembly will pass an act to emancipate and set free the said negro woman Lettice in consideration of the before recited important Services."

PAR Number 11280110

State: North Carolina Year: 1801
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: Thirty-two Montgomery County residents stand in support of John Davidson's "desire to Set free a certin negro man slave Of his own write and property well [known] by the Name of Doctor Wallace." The petitioners believe that said slave "is a very usefull Black man in That branch of business" and is particularly adept at healing sores and ulcers. They therefore humbly pray "your Honorable body to Emancipate the said negro man Wallace and Establish his Name by Law by the name of peter Wallace."

PAR Number 11280405

State: North Carolina Year: 1804
Location: Mecklenburg Location Type: County

Abstract: Cassandra Alexander Houston seeks a divorce from her husband James Houston. The couple married 4 January 1803 and lived together until 28 November of the same year when Cassandra left him "owing (as she verily believes) to her Husbands imbecillity or impotency as a man in procreating his species." Depositions from the petitioner's relatives and others state that they suspected from observing him "make water" that James Houston was not a man like other men; that he had expressed anxiety that "he was not as complete as to genitals as other men;" and that he had on several occasions attempted to "ride" other men and "act with [other men] as man would with a Woman." Marshal Alexander, Cassandra's brother, stated in a deposition that he was once the object of such attempts and noticed at the time that Houston had no testicles. With the marriage unconsummated, the evidence suggesting that Houston "had not the genitals for propagation," and the Alexander's believing that Houston married solely to obtain property, Cassandra Alexander asks to retain her property and be granted a divorce.

PAR Number 11282402

State: North Carolina Year: 1824
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: John D. Barber discloses that, after three years of marriage, his wife Mary "left his house without cause and entered into the most abandoned scenes of prostitution with black and white." Barber further reveals that said Mary "has contracted a long time since a most hateful disease" and that "she is a most uncommon drunkard and thief." The petitioner therefore prays "that the Legislature will pass a law to dissolve the bonds of matrimony between him and the said Mary Barber." Attached affidavits charge that the said Mary "is considered to be and looked upon as one of the basest prostitutes in the human family" and that she is "entirely unfit for civilized Society."

PAR Number 11282712

State: North Carolina Year: 1827
Location: New Hanover Location Type: County

Abstract: Jonathan Bryan seeks a divorce from his wife Ann Jane Anders, who not only attempted to kill him but also incited "an Insurrection" among his slaves. Bryan reports that the said Ann Jane attempted to poison him more than once; that she failed to nurse him when he “was Confined with the Billious fever So that his life was despaired of"; that she "has laid voiolent hands on his person twice;" that she has "treated with Cruelty the Seven Children he has had by a decent and former wife"; that she "took medicine" to induce a miscarriage when she returned from being absent "for the Space of eleven months dureing which time She got herself with Child;" and that he "has not seen the Said Ann Jane and has been for Som time past and at this time She is aliveing in a Negro house With Negros." He therefore prays that the legislature will "interpose and pass a Law Divorcing him from this wife Ann Jane."

PAR Number 11283801

State: North Carolina Year: 1838
Location: Halifax Location Type: County

Abstract: Gideon P. Harvey and P. P. Harvey, "old and advanced in years," are desirous "of having the said slaves viz Elizabeth, Preston, Denton, and Mary Emancipated." They represent that they "are fully satisfied and believes that the said slaves ... are entitled and ought to enjoy those privileges from merit and good behavior towards the petitioners," one of whom "has been for many years subject to Colick, Rheumatism & other diseases that is common to the human family." They therefore pray "that your honorable body will pass a Law to emancipate" thirty-seven-year-old Elizabeth, thirty-two-year-old Preston, thirty-year-old Denton, and twenty-year-old Mary.

PAR Number 11379802

State: South Carolina Year: 1798
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: James Delaire states that his slave, Paul, alias Figaro, was convicted of sedition and sentenced to be transported from the United States to the Dutch Colony of Surinam and sold. Other slaves involved in the plot were hanged, but Paul testified against them and his life was spared. Paul was turned over to Duncan Hill, owner of the brig Aurora, for transport to Surinam. Owing to the "Intense cold the said Figaro had suffered in the Work House at Charleston & the strong pressure of the Irons on his legs very few days after the Sailing of the Aurora he was taken with a swelling about the ankles which turn'd into a sore & that a mortification of the flesh ensuing his toes rotted & one of his feet drop'd of[f] entirely." As a result, Paul sold for only about $20 though he was worth $350. Delaire seeks compensation.

PAR Number 11379803

State: South Carolina Year: 1798
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: James Delaire states that his slave, Paul, alias Figaro, was convicted of sedition and sentenced to be transported from the United States to the Dutch Colony of Surinam and sold. Other slaves involved in the plot were hanged, but Paul testified against them and his life was spared. Paul was turned over to Duncan Hill, owner of the brig Aurora, for transport to Surinam. Owing to the "Intense cold the said Figaro had suffered in the Work House at Charleston & the strong pressure of the Irons on his legs very few days after the Sailing of the Aurora he was taken with a swelling about the ankles which turn'd into a sore & that a mortification of the flesh ensuing his toes rotted & one of his feet drop'd of[f] entirely." As a result, Paul sold for only about $20 though he was worth $350. Delaire seeks compensation.

PAR Number 11380007

State: South Carolina Year: 1800

Abstract: Leroy Beuford seeks compensation for a slave named John who was convicted and executed for poisoning. Beuford believes that "he has Not Justice Done Him." Related documents contain the testimony of several slaves that detail John's acts of conjuring and suspected poisoning.

PAR Number 11382314

State: South Carolina Year: 1823
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Izidore Labatut, "afflicted with a great Deafness," requests the manumission of his slave Louiza and her four children. Foreign-born Labatut reports that he has been "a Resident in this City of Charleston upwards of twenty five years" and that the said Louiza has provided "important services" to him over the twelve-year-period in which he suffered from a painful disease. He further attests that, "during this long period of Services," he was "twice Saved from Dreadfull fire at night by her Vigilance." The petitioner reveals that six years ago, in consequence of her "good conduct," he promised "to emancipate her, together with her children." Labatut therefore solicits the House of Representatives "to take my petition into Consideration, and to grant me the permission to Keep my promise, as a man of honor, in emancipating the said Coloured woman Louiza with her four children, as she is very worthy of Such a reward for her Good qualities and Behaviour."

PAR Number 11382323

State: South Carolina Year: 1823
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Izidore Labatut, "afflicted with a great Deafness," requests the manumission of his slave Louiza and her four children. Foreign-born Labatut reports that he has been "a Resident in this City of Charleston upwards of twenty five years" and that the said Louiza has provided "important services" to him over the twelve-year-period in which he suffered from a painful disease. He further attests that, "during this long period of Services," he was "twice Saved from dreadfull fire at night by her vigilance." The petitioner reveals that six years ago, in consequence of her "good conduct," he promised "to emancipate her, together with her children." Labatut therefore solicits the Senate "to take his petition into Consideration, and to grant him the permission to Keep his promise, as a man of honor, in emancipating the said Coloured woman Louiza with her four children, as She is very worthy of Such a reward for her good qualities and Behaviour."

PAR Number 11383402

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

Abstract: Charleston resident Edward Carew seeks leniency for his slave Isaac, sentenced to twelve months solitary confinement and three hundred lashes for striking his slave wife in the head with a hoe handle and causing her death. The petitioner believes Isaac will not survive and contends the punishment does not fit the offense. He asserts that "the Case is not distinguishable from many others of conflicts between people of this description -- no such violence was used by the Prisoner as should have excited an apprehension of fatal consequence" and that "the death of Kettura may be regarded in some measure as accidental." Carew further concludes that "the evidence only shews a common instance of a quarrel between a negro and his wife which are of frequent occurrence and not deemed to merit more than moderate correction."

PAR Number 11384302

State: South Carolina Year: 1843
Location: Barnwell Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Forty-two citizens of Barnwell District "are satisfied that an evil of great magnitude pervades to some extent the whole State, and one which strikes at the vitals of our domestic Institutions, which demands at the hands of the Legislature some effective measures for its suppression." The petitioners "allude to the illicit traffic with Slaves." They lament that "the owner of the property is defrauded of his just Gains, and the slave is made the vehicle through whose hands the stolen property is passed. Thus through the base and nefarious means used, the slave is made the fit instrument of crime, and being trained to every violence, he too often eventually becomes an assassin or incendiary. His mind corrupted, his body diseased, he either fills a premature grave by the effects of disease or through the administration of justice, expiates his crime on the gallows, while the promoter and partner of his guilt escapes with impunity and in defiance of the law." Noting that the dockets are crowded with indictments for trafficking, the petitioners seek a law imposing corporal punishment on whites for a second conviction for trafficking with slaves, either selling them liquor or purchasing corn, rice, or cotton, "the three great staples of the County."

PAR Number 11385006

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

Abstract: Thomas Bennett seeks a pardon for his slave Peter Blacklock. He represents that an altercation broke out between Peter and another slave named York; the said Peter "inflicted on York a blow that fractured his skull and caused his death in a few hours." Bennett further recounts that Peter was convicted of manslaughter and was sentenced to receive "one Hundred and twenty five Lashes and then to be removed to the Jail of the district" and to "remain imprisoned for two years, the first year of which he should receive monthly Twenty Lashes." He discloses, however, that the said slave is "considerably advanced in years" and that he "became intemperate from the use of ardent spirits -- this habit followed by Epileptic fits." Describing Peter as "a wretched remnant of Humanity -- Prostrate mentally and physically by disease," Bennett fears that his slave "will not probably survive to the termination of his confinement without the interposition of Executive clemency.” The petitioner therefore prays "that Your Excellency would extend to this unfortunate man the Executive prerogative of pardon."

PAR Number 11385202

State: South Carolina Year: 1852
Location: Laurens Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Gabriel South represents that his slave Nathan, "of the value of eight hundred dollars, was convicted of a capital felony, and sentenced to suffer death in February 1852." South declares, however, that said Nathan died previous to the day of execution from a "disease contracted in prison." South is concerned that "in consequence of the death of the slave before the execution, he may not be able to collect the amount of the appraizement by the Court that convicted him (towit) the sum of two hundred dollars, without the aid of this Honorable Body." The petitioner therefore prays "that his case may be considered, and relief granted him in the premises."

PAR Number 11385401

State: South Carolina Year: 1854
Location: Colleton Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: J. Malachai Ford recounts that, in July 1853, "two felons, named Thomas Motley & Wm Blacklege, from Richland District, whilst on a visit to Colleton District, committed many outrages, with their ferocious dogs, upon Slaves, in that portion of the district, comparatively uninhabited by white persons, and amongst others, murdered a Slave at Parker's ferry, after inflicting the most outrageous and inhuman barbarities, hitherto without a parallel in a civilized country." Ford further states that, acting as special constable, he pursued said men "through a very Sickly country, day and night, (from which he contracted fever) & eventually succeeded in arresting them ... & delivered them to the Sheriff of Colleton District, in whose custody they remained until their trial & conviction at Fall Term 1853, and subsequent execution." He avows that he "has never yet received a compensation, not even the petty costs of a constable" for the valuable services he "rendered to the State, for the vindication of her laws, for protection of our Slave property," all "at the risk of Petitioner's life, from the malaria of a sickly country, & from desperate armed felons." Ford therefore prays that he be paid "the small sum of two hundred Dollars, which he now respectfully submits, he is at least entitled to."

PAR Number 11483208

State: Tennessee Year: 1832
Location: Maury Location Type: County

Abstract: One hundred twenty-one residents of Maury, Bedford, Giles, Hickman, Williamson, and Lincoln counties ask that the act that "makes it an indictable offence for any owner or other person having charge of any slave or slaves, to permit him or them to go about the country under pretext of practicing medicine or healing the sick" be relaxed in "its general operation so far as to permit a negro man named Jack, the property of Mr. William H. Macon ... to practice." Avowing that the said Jack possesses a "character for honesty and correct deportment," they therefore "ask the passage of this Law, granting permission to this boy to practice, with a firm belief that the public good will be advanced by its passage from our knowledge of the character of this boy, and his practice for several years."

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