Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11483112

State: Tennessee Year: 1831
Location: Lincoln Location Type: County

Abstract: Thirty citizens of Lincoln County report that John W. Isaacs, while “considerably intoxicated," shot one of his father's slaves and was indicted for said incident. They further represent that "the said negro has since recovered from the wound ... and is now perfectly sound and well" and Samuel Isaacs "has since become reconciled with his sd son John." They therefore pray "that your honourable body will pass a law to release the said John W. Isaacs from the further prosecution of the sd Indictment."

PAR Number 11483707

State: Tennessee Year: 1837
Location: Shelby Location Type: County

Abstract: Thirty-one citizens complain about the “increased number of Dram Shops” in the state. They point out that “in every city, town and hamlet, throughout the State, they are to be found, in numbers greatly disproportionate to the wants of any sober community -- And in many instances they are intolerable nuisances.” Declaring that “the injury done to the slaves, who resort thither to expend their little earnings, is incalculable,” they further believe that “nearly every crime and misdemeanor can be traced directly or indirectly to some one of these low haunts of dissipation and idleness.” The petitioners therefore state that “all they ask for at present, is, that a Joint Committee of both Houses may be raised, to give the matter a thorough investigation, and report accordingly.”

PAR Number 11483708

State: Tennessee Year: 1837
Location: Shelby Location Type: County

Abstract: Fifty-seven citizens complain about the “increased number of Dram Shops” in the state. They point out that “in every city, town and hamlet, throughout the State, they are to be found, in numbers greatly disproportionate to the wants of any sober community -- And in many instances they are intolerable nuisances.” Declaring that “the injury done to the slaves, who resort thither to expend their little earnings, is incalculable,” they further believe that “nearly every crime and misdemeanor can be traced directly or indirectly to some one of these low haunts of dissipation and idleness.” The petitioners therefore state that “all they ask for at present, is, that a Joint Committee of both Houses may be raised, to give the matter a thorough investigation, and report accordingly.”

PAR Number 11483709

State: Tennessee Year: 1837
Location: Williamson Location Type: County

Abstract: Four hundred nineteen citizens “beg leave to call your attention to and request your honorable body to pass a law to put a stop to Tipling houses which evil is daily increasing in our State since an act of the Legislature of 1831 was passed which authorizes the Issuing licence to keep Tipling houses.” They believe that tipling houses in the neighborhoods are a great evil in that they “are at once in the reach of the aged the young ... and last the slaves who could not otherwise have access to them and in their turn drown their cares in the flowing and Intoxicating Bowl.” The petitioners therefore pray that “your honourable Body repeal the act of the Genl assembly for 1831 ... and suppress such evil as far as in your power.”

PAR Number 11483710

State: Tennessee Year: 1838
Location: Williamson Location Type: County

Abstract: Seventy-four citzens of Williamson County complain about the “increased number of Dram Shops” in the state. They point out that “in every city, town and hamlet, throughout the State, they are to be found, in numbers greatly disproportionate to the wants of any sober community -- And in many instances they are intolerable nuisances.” Declaring that “the injury done to the slaves, who resort thither to expend their little earnings, is incalculable,” they further believe that “nearly every crime and misdemeanor can be traced directly or indirectly to some one of these low haunts of dissipation and idleness.” The petitioners therefore state that “all they ask for at present, is, that a Joint Committee of both Houses may be raised, to give the matter a thorough investigation, and report accordingly.”

PAR Number 11483711

State: Tennessee Year: 1837
Location: Hardeman Location Type: County

Abstract: Sixty-two citizens complain about the “increased number of Dram Shops” in the state. They point out that “in every city, town and hamlet, throughout the State, they are to be found, in numbers greatly disproportionate to the wants of any sober community -- And in many instances they are intolerable nuisances.” Declaring that “the injury done to the slaves, who resort thither to expend their little earnings, is incalculable,” they further believe that “nearly every crime and misdemeanor can be traced directly or indirectly to some one of these low haunts of dissipation and idleness.” The petitioners therefore state that “all they ask for at present, is, that a Joint Committee of both Houses may be raised, to give the matter a thorough investigation, and report accordingly.”

PAR Number 11483712

State: Tennessee Year: 1837
Location: Wilson Location Type: County

Abstract: One hundred six citizens complain about the “increased number of Dram Shops” in the state. They point out that “in every city, town and hamlet, throughout the State, they are to be found, in numbers greatly disproportionate to the wants of any sober community -- And in many instances they are intolerable nuisances.” Declaring that “the injury done to the slaves, who resort thither to expend their little earnings, is incalculable,” they further believe that “nearly every crime and misdemeanor can be traced directly or indirectly to some one of these low haunts of dissipation and idleness.” The petitioners therefore state that “all they ask for at present, is, that a Joint Committee of both Houses may be raised, to give the matter a thorough investigation, and report accordingly.”

PAR Number 11483713

State: Tennessee Year: 1837
Location: Sumner Location Type: County

Abstract: Eighty-eight citizens complain about the “increased number of Dram Shops” in the state. They point out that “in every city, town and hamlet, throughout the State, they are to be found, in numbers greatly disproportionate to the wants of any sober community -- And in many instances they are intolerable nuisances.” Declaring that “the injury done to the slaves, who resort thither to expend their little earnings, is incalculable,” they further believe that “nearly every crime and misdemeanor can be traced directly or indirectly to some one of these low haunts of dissipation and idleness.” The petitioners therefore state that “all they ask for at present, is, that a Joint Committee of both Houses may be raised, to give the matter a thorough investigation, and report accordingly.”

PAR Number 11483714

State: Tennessee Year: 1837
Location: Sumner Location Type: County

Abstract: One hundred ten citizens complain about the “increased number of Dram Shops” in the state. They point out that “in every city, town and hamlet, throughout the State, they are to be found, in numbers greatly disproportionate to the wants of any sober community -- And in many instances they are intolerable nuisances.” Declaring that “the injury done to the slaves, who resort thither to expend their little earnings, is incalculable,” they further believe that “nearly every crime and misdemeanor can be traced directly or indirectly to some one of these low haunts of dissipation and idleness.” The petitioners therefore state that “all they ask for at present, is, that a Joint Committee of both Houses may be raised, to give the matter a thorough investigation, and report accordingly.”

PAR Number 11483715

State: Tennessee Year: 1837
Location: Sumner Location Type: County

Abstract: Ninety-five citizens complain about the “increased number of Dram Shops” in the state. They point out that “in every city, town and hamlet, throughout the State, they are to be found, in numbers greatly disproportionate to the wants of any sober community -- And in many instances they are intolerable nuisances.” Declaring that “the injury done to the slaves, who resort thither to expend their little earnings, is incalculable,” they further believe that “nearly every crime and misdemeanor can be traced directly or indirectly to some one of these low haunts of dissipation and idleness.” The petitioners therefore state that “all they ask for at present, is, that a Joint Committee of both Houses may be raised, to give the matter a thorough investigation, and report accordingly.”

PAR Number 11483716

State: Tennessee Year: 1837
Location: Madison Location Type: County

Abstract: One hundred thirteen citizens complain about the “increased number of Dram Shops” in the state. They point out that “in every city, town and hamlet, throughout the State, they are to be found, in numbers greatly disproportionate to the wants of any sober community -- And in many instances they are intolerable nuisances.” Declaring that “the injury done to the slaves, who resort thither to expend their little earnings, is incalculable,” they further believe that “nearly every crime and misdemeanor can be traced directly or indirectly to some one of these low haunts of dissipation and idleness.” The petitioners therefore state that “all they ask for at present, is, that a Joint Committee of both Houses may be raised, to give the matter a thorough investigation, and report accordingly.”

PAR Number 11483717

State: Tennessee Year: 1837
Location: Robertson Location Type: County

Abstract: Thirty citizens complain about the “increased number of Dram Shops” in the state. They point out that “in every city, town and hamlet, throughout the State, they are to be found, in numbers greatly disproportionate to the wants of any sober community -- And in many instances they are intolerable nuisances.” Declaring that “the injury done to the slaves, who resort thither to expend their little earnings, is incalculable,” they further believe that “nearly every crime and misdemeanor can be traced directly or indirectly to some one of these low haunts of dissipation and idleness.” The petitioners therefore state that “all they ask for at present, is, that a Joint Committee of both Houses may be raised, to give the matter a thorough investigation, and report accordingly.”

PAR Number 11483718

State: Tennessee Year: 1837
Location: Franklin Location Type: County

Abstract: Ninety-one citizens complain about the “increased number of Dram Shops” in the state. They point out that “in every city, town and hamlet, throughout the State, they are to be found, in numbers greatly disproportionate to the wants of any sober community -- And in many instances they are intolerable nuisances.” Declaring that “the injury done to the slaves, who resort thither to expend their little earnings, is incalculable,” they further believe that “nearly every crime and misdemeanor can be traced directly or indirectly to some one of these low haunts of dissipation and idleness.” The petitioners therefore state that “all they ask for at present, is, that a Joint Committee of both Houses may be raised, to give the matter a thorough investigation, and report accordingly.”

PAR Number 11483720

State: Tennessee Year: 1837
Location: Davidson Location Type: County

Abstract: Forty-two citizens complain about the “increased number of Dram Shops” in the state. They point out that “in every city, town and hamlet, throughout the State, they are to be found, in numbers greatly disproportionate to the wants of any sober community -- And in many instances they are intolerable nuisances.” Declaring that “the injury done to the slaves, who resort thither to expend their little earnings, is incalculable,” they further believe that “nearly every crime and misdemeanor can be traced directly or indirectly to some one of these low haunts of dissipation and idleness.” The petitioners therefore state that “all they ask for at present, is, that a Joint Committee of both Houses may be raised, to give the matter a thorough investigation, and report accordingly.”

PAR Number 11483721

State: Tennessee Year: 1837
Location: Sumner Location Type: County

Abstract: Seventy-four citizens of Sumner County complain about the evils of tippling houses.

PAR Number 11483724

State: Tennessee Year: 1837
Location: Williamson Location Type: County

Abstract: One hundred twenty-one residents of Williamson County seek the repeal of the 1835 act granting licenses to retailers of "ardent Spirits."

PAR Number 11483725

State: Tennessee Year: 1837
Location: Davidson Location Type: County

Abstract: Three hundred seventy-four "Ladies resident in Davidson County," vehemently opposed to the "demon of intemperance," seek a law to suppress tippling houses.

PAR Number 11484502

State: Tennessee Year: 1845
Location: Anderson Location Type: County

Abstract: Mary Hookins asks for a divorce from her husband William. Hookins confides that said William "was always scolding and faultfinding and frequently disturbed your petitioner's hours of repose and sleep by his certain lectures -- abusing her for merest trifles and not seeming to be satisfied, he soon resorted to whipping her." She further admits that when she "would tell him to quit mistreating her so, he said by the common law a man had a right to whip his wife, and that so long as he was a freeman he would have the right of one, and that he would whip her every day of her life if he wanted to." Mary reveals that her husband has abandoned her "and her babies to this fate and the last rumor She heard of him he had taken up with a mulatto woman and was the father of two children by her." She therefore prays that "now if your Honorable body ... will only set aside, and undue this unfortunate act of your petitioner's youthful folly, and indiscretion; she hopes she will be able to do better in a second marriage than she did in her first; for she knows she could do worse that she did when she [and] Billy Hookins became man and wife."

PAR Number 11484904

State: Tennessee Year: 1849
Location: Rutherford Location Type: County

Abstract: One hundred six petitioners "beseech [the Legislature] ... to repeal all laws legalising the sale of ardent Spirits in tippling houses or elsewhere." Among other arguments, they assert that "there is a class, a race of population amongst, but not of us: a class that Providence has permitted the Caucasian to hold in subjection, a subjection now rendered necessary by our relative positions, for the ending of which the most sagacious political economist can see no time." They further espouse "the theory has been adopted and is now acted upon; that the ignorance of that class is necessary to its degradation, and its degradation to our security -- And this class having no intellectual and but little moral culture to restrain and direct them" and that "the excess in use of ardent spirits is becoming the pervading passion of their class we know; but we cannot see, and cannot know how or when or where the poison is dealt out to them." The petitioners "tremble at the consequences to which this may lead -- The white man has cultivated intellect and strong endearments to subdue or restrain him in his madness; yet when his passions are inflamed by drink his desperate hand breaks the dearest ties, and spills the most cherished blood. But what is to restrain besotted slavery from filling the land with blood and conflagration? The details might be imagined but they are too horrible for reflection."

PAR Number 11485120

State: Tennessee Year: 1851
Location: Fayette Location Type: County

Abstract: One hundred twenty-one citizens of Fayette County assert "the fact that by far the largest portion of ... crime, privation, and suffering, with which our Country is afflicted are produced by the use of intoxicating liquors in the community." The petitioners point out that legalizing liquor operates "very injuriously on our slave population by making the access to intoxicating liquors too easy to them & increases the temptation to steal for the purpose of procuring liquor." They therefore propose "the entire prohibition of the sale of intoxicating Liquors making provision for medical & chemical purposes and wine for communion occasions in churches." They suggest "penalties to be fines, imprisonment in the County jails, & state penitentiary & disfranchisement."

PAR Number 11485121

State: Tennessee Year: 1851
Location: Lewis Location Type: County

Abstract: Forty-four citizens of Lewis County represent "that the community is suffering very much under the present Tippling laws and the trafficking in spiritous liquors to slaves and free persons of color." The petitioners assert that "the laws in relation to trafficking in intoxicating drinks with slaves and free persons of color are now very imperfect." They point out that "an unprincipled liquor vender may now by closing his doors, ruin a whole neighborhood of slaves because no white man may see him sell." They therefore propose "that the duty and responsibility of giving liquors to slaves shall be confined to their owners alone" and that “your Honorable body ... repeal the whole law.”

PAR Number 11680606

State: Virginia Year: 1806
Location: Culpeper Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1800, Charlotte Ball married William Ball who possessed property "very adequate with care and industry to their decent support." Charlotte informs the court that "she had every reason to hope for as great a portion of happiness as most people enjoy in a married state." It was not meant to be; within a short while, William Ball began to strike and beat Charlotte, and even threatened to kill her. In addition, he "wasted his substance to the last farthing in profligacy and debaucheries." Although Charlotte does not reveal to the court the details of these "debaucheries," we learn from related depositions that it included excessive drinking and adultery with both white and black women. Charlotte contends that in spite of the violence and the outrage she "conducted herself on all occasions towards" her husband "with humble duty, fidelity, and affection." The situation, however, became unbearable and she eventually left her husband's house and returned to her father's, where she has now lived for four years and accumulated some property to support herself and her children. She claims that her husband is trying to confiscate her property; she seeks a divorce.

PAR Number 11681709

State: Virginia Year: 1817
Location: Bedford Location Type: County

Abstract: Sopha Dobyns, daughter of the late Colonel Thomas Septwick, was married to Jonah Dobyns at age sixteen. She now complains that, after two years her husband, began to abuse and beat her, and continued to do so for the next four years. She escaped her husband's mistreatment by retreating to her father's house on several occasions, but when she returned home, Dobyns would whip her and threaten to take her life. One visitor to the plantation testified, in a related document, that he heard Dobyns boast "in her absence he had taken one of his own Negroe Women into her bed and that he would do it again whenever it Suited him." Sopha's father is now dead and he has left her a trust estate in slaves ample enough for her comfortable maintenance and that of her children. She seeks a divorce.

PAR Number 11683007

State: Virginia Year: 1830
Location: Henry Location Type: County

Abstract: William Potter and his wife seek relief from paying jail fees. They inform the legislature that their slave Martin was arrested and jailed on suspicion of planning to poison the family of John C. Taylor, his wife's owner. According to the petitioners, Martin became jealous when he suspected his wife to be too intimate with a slave owned by Taylor. When Taylor took sides with his own slave and forbade Martin to come near his house, Martin, while drunk, supposedly threatened Taylor. A warrant for Martin was issued and he was thrown in jail. The Potters are poor and can not afford to pay the fees required to get their slave out of jail.

PAR Number 11683120

State: Virginia Year: 1831
Location: Northampton Location Type: County

Abstract: Fifty-eight residents of Northampton County address one of "the evils attending [the oyster] trade." They represent that "the oysters in many of their waters" are "materially diminished [in] their numbers" and that "the industry of the oysterman” will be forced to 'sweep the bottoms' of the small & shallow inlets of our county." They aver that "other & greater evils however press upon us with a might so serious & alarming, that all the foregoing considerations, however important in themselves, sink into comparative indifference." They report that "this trade is conducted almost exclusively by citizens of other states," who depend "chiefly on our slaves & free negroes; the former labour for them only in the night whereby they are rendered unable to labour for their owners in the day, & in the course of a few years are laid up with rheumatism & other diseases of a premature old age." The petitioners further note that said slaves come into contact with men "who have devoted themselves to the work of 'universal emancipation' & whose zeal for the slave sanctifies in their view the worst extremities of teaching & violence." They therefore seek relief and ask "so far as their county is concerned, the trade may be wholly forbidden."

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