Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11281601

State: North Carolina Year: 1816
Location: New Hanover Location Type: County

Abstract: Harriet Laspeyre seeks a separation from her husband Bernard, "late of the Island Hispaniola." Laspeyre laments that she "discovered to her infinite mortification that her property trifling as it was had been the primary object of his warmest affection." She further confesses that she "was too soon made sensible of his fixed determination to compell her by every diabolical scheme & the brutality of his manners and the malignity of his heart could devise to a surrender of every thing she held in her own right." In addition, she confides that she "was at length stripped of the right that every woman claims" as she was "divested of her keys," thereby "deprived of the authority of a mistress, her negroes forbidden to obey her orders under penalty of the severest punishment." Laspeyre charges that "the profits arising from the labor of her Slaves, which ought to have been appropriated, to the support and education of her children, she had the extreme vexation to see wantonly lavished on his black and mulatto mistresses." Having left her house under a serious apprehension "of an attempt upon her life," the petitioner therefore prays "your Honourable body in tender consideration of her wretched and desolate condition, to pass an act to separate her from her said husband and to secure to her the residue of her little property and what she may hereafter acquire."

PAR Number 11281705

State: North Carolina Year: 1817
Location: Bertie Location Type: County

Abstract: Mary Hassell laments that her husband Benjamin "has betaken to himself as a wife & companion a negro woman, the slave & lawful property of your petitioner." Hassell admits that she has removed herself from her husband, "who is looked upon as disgraceful ... by every upright & virtuous member of civil society," in order "to relieve herself from the odious embraces of a man so entirely destitute of all the finer feelings of sensibilities." Seeking to secure to herself "the remnant of property yet remaining" and to protect any future acquisitions "from the cruel & rapacious grasp of the monster," the petitioner implores the legislature to pass an act protecting the property still “in her possession, & all that she may ever hereafter acquire, either by her own industry or inheritance."

PAR Number 11281708

State: North Carolina Year: 1817
Location: Franklin Location Type: County

Abstract: David Sills and William Wheless, the executors John Hoof's will, explain that Hoof left "a Will which directs all his Slaves to be Liberated by the General Assembly." Being appointed to carry said will into effect, the petitioners beg "that your Honorable Body may View The Said Will and give them such relief as you may think proper." They further pray that "if your Honorable Body shall not think fit to liberate the whole of the Slaves named in the Will & the Children which has been born Since -- That you will take this part under your Humane Consideration, and enact Such Laws as shall Emancipate" a portion of said slaves, i.e., Sylvia, "admitted by the Said Hoof to be his child," her six children, and her three grandchildren. The petitioners note that some eighteen years ago Hoof gave Sylvia "away in Marriage to Drewry Owen," a free man of color, and that he "has had this woman with him at his own house this 15 or 16 years, and by their Industry have raised all these Children as free people, and at a great expence to him the said Drewry, without any aid, or controul of the said John Hoof."

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 11282403

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

Abstract: Lewis Tombereau, a native of France, laments that he married a young woman named Nancy Jolly, "to whom he was determined to stick as close as wax." Tombereau confesses, however, that by his said marriage "he linked his fortune with and intrusted his happiness to one of the most frail, lewd, and depraved, daughters of Eve." The petitioner charges that said Nancy "forsoke both his board, and bed, to cohabit with a certain mulatto Barber named Roland Colanche." Tombereau, "with the most pungent and heart felt sorrow," reports that Nancy "has had a coloured child, and became, and continues to be, a public and notorious prostitute in the most unlimited sense of that word. She indulging in an unreserved, and promiscuous intercourse with men of every colour, age, class, and description she meets, sufficiently dissolute, licentious, and sensual, to gratify their passion, and her lust, and desire of variety." The petitioner therefore prays that he be released "from the unhallowed bonds he in an evil hour entered into."

PAR Number 11282504

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

Abstract: John Chambers asks that his marriage to Riney O'Neal be annulled. Chambers reveals that "about two weeks after marriage your petitioner's wife was charged with having been delivered of a molatto child." He further notes, that when confronted with said charge, the family confessed to "the above crime." Declaring that he "carried his wife Riney to her father and has never lived with her since," Chambers wishes "your honorable Body to take his case into serious consideration and pass a law to annul the marriage of your unfortunate petitioner."

PAR Number 11282708

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

Abstract: Ann Borden asks that the divorce petition soon to be filed by her husband Jesse be rejected. She relates that she left Jesse four months after their marriage because of "ill treatment" and "many desperate threats made by said Borden against her life." She also admits that a month before her marriage she "had the misfortune to have a child born of which Jesse Borden was not the father"; Ann argues, however, that she never tried to conceal the fact that the child was not his and that he never voiced any qualms about rearing another man's child. The petitioner further asserts that attempting to pass the child off as his "would have been unavailing as the child would unavoidably have shown for itself." Ann therefore prays "that the Legislature of North Carolina will preserve inviolate the ties of matrimony that exist between your Petitioner and Jesse Borden." A summary of Jesse's petition reveals that he thought the child was his because "previous to his marriage he had been in habits of illicit intercourse with her during which time she became pregnant"; that Jesse "did believe in the early infancy of the child that it was his and being desirous of making her what reperation was in his power for the loss of her virtue he intermarried with her immediately after the birth of the child"; and that he exclaimed "to his mortification and astonishment" said infant "to be a mulatto child the fruits of [a] negro."

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 11284003

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

Abstract: Eight residents of Orange County ask Governor Edward B. Dudley to overturn the court-martial conviction of Lieutenant William Benson of the 48th North Carolina Regiment; Dudley referred the petition to the legislature for consideration. The petitioners report that Benson refused to obey an order given by Captain John Griffis and was therefore fined for said refusal. They put forth that Griffis's father was "a Coloured man and was of very dark Complexion" and that Griffis himself is a "man of Colour within the fourth Degree." Arguing that said lieutenant is therefore not "Capable under the Constitution & laws of N. Carolina to hold a commission in the military Service of the State," they consequently avow that Benson "is not of right liable for the fine as Laid by the Court martial." They "therefore pray of your Excellancy to remit the Same."

PAR Number 11285201

State: North Carolina Year: 1852
Location: Wayne Location Type: County

Abstract: Five residents of Wayne County join Hilary Croom, "who was born of a woman of respectable parentage though his father was reputed to have been a slave of Colour," in requesting that Croom's three children "be free at their arriving to the age of twenty one years" and that they all be allowed to remain in the state. The white petitioners boast that Croom, alias Coor, "is one of the best blacksmiths we have" and that he "sustains a fair industrious character." They further report that he was previously expelled from the state of Alabama and that now he faces yet another law requiring him to emigrate from his home state or pay a heavy fine. The petitioners therefore pray that "Hilary Croom be suffered to remain with us."

PAR Number 11285202

State: North Carolina Year: 1852
Location: Columbus Location Type: County

Abstract: William Gore and others ask to free Gore's slave Rachel because she "is very white and So little distinguishable from white persons, that it would Shock our feelings, that she Should be compelled to remain in bondage." In addition, three-year-old Rachel is "humble and obedient and of good character."

PAR Number 11381203

State: South Carolina Year: 1812
Location: Orangeburgh Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Forty Orangeburg District residents decry that "one of the consequences of softening" the condition of slaves is "their forgetting that they were such and their attempting to exercise among some of the lower classes of white people freedoms and familiarities which are degrading to them and dangerous to society." The petitioners "allude to the attempts which are made and some of them with success at sexual intercourse with white females." Such behavior, they declare, now occurs not only among "the dregs of society .. but some reputable families are disgraced and covered with infamy by the presumptuous advances of a slave or free negroe." They claim that the inadequate "penalty for such an offence has in some instances induced an incensed and indignant neighbourhood ... to measure out justice to the offender with their own hand." The petitioners ask that a law be passed "annexing to such criminal conduct a penalty commensurate to the offence."

PAR Number 11381209

State: South Carolina Year: 1812
Location: Orangeburgh Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Forty Orangeburg District residents decry that "one of the consequences of softening" the condition of slaves is "their forgetting that they were such and their attempting to exercise among some of the lower classes of white people freedom and familiarities which are degrading to them and dangerous to Society." The petitioners "allude to the attempts which are made and some of them with success at sexual intercourse with white females." Such behavior, they declare, now occurs not only among "the dregs of Society .. but some reputable families are disgraced and covered with infamy by the presumptuous advances of a slave or free negroe." They claim that the inadequate "penalty for such an offence has in some instances induced an incensed and indignant neighbourhood ... to measure out justice to the offender with their own hand." The petitioners ask that a law be passed "annexing to such criminal conduct a penalty commensurate to the offence."

PAR Number 11382107

State: South Carolina Year: 1821
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Ann Ferguson seeks to emancipate her slave Annette and Annette's two children, fourteen-year-old Joseph Bampfield and five-year-old Mary Bampfield. Noting that Annette "has always lived under the eye of your petitioner," Ferguson avows that the thirty-five-year-old slave "has uniformly maintained an excellent character, exhibiting on every occasion the utmost fidelity and affection toward her mistress." The petitioner points out that Annette was born "of a mulatto woman and is herself a Quadroon" and that "both her children are so white as to render it almost impossible for them to be distinguished from white Persons." She therefore prays "your honorable body to take such measures for the emancipation of the said Annette and her Children."

PAR Number 11382121

State: South Carolina Year: 1821
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Isaac Frazier, "the owner of a boy named Richard between the age of eight and nine years," declares that said child "is so white as with difficulty to be known as a person of color." Frazier further states that he "never contemplated keeping him as slave, but on the other hand always intended his emancipation." Noting that "in which design he has been defeated by the late act of the honorable Legislature," the petitioner prays "your honble body to emancipate the said slave by a special act."

PAR Number 11382123

State: South Carolina Year: 1821
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: John Carmille, who "for many years past has endeavored to conduct himself as an upright & useful citizen," reveals that "it was his fortune to form a domestic connection" with Henrietta, his female slave; twenty-six-year-old Henrietta has borne him three children: Charlotte, age eleven, Francis, age five, and Nancy, age three. Aware that "he is open to censure as infringing the rules of propriety & decorum," Carmille nonetheless has "no alternative but to make the present application or he remain indifferent to the present melancholy situation of his family," as they are "all of the class called Mulattoes, & according to the laws of this state in the condition of absolute Slaves." He therefore puts forth that his object "is to Solicit" the interposition of the legislature to "adopt such measures as may effect the emancipation of the said slaves." The petitioner "indulges the loud hope that a proceeding of the Legislature so unforeseen [as the act passed last session] will not be permitted to have the deplorable effect of rivetting on his partner & children the bonds of perpetual & remediless slavery."

PAR Number 11382124

State: South Carolina Year: 1821
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Rene Peter David reveals that he is the father of three young children, "all of the class called Mulattoes the offspring of a female the property of your petitioner." He admits that "it had all along been his attention to avail himself of the benefit of the Laws on this Subject which existed prior to the act of the Legislature passed in the Session of 1820." The petitioner therefore makes "this application to your honorable Body anxiously hoping that you will adopt such measures as may confer on them the blessings of emancipation." David assures the legislature that "it is his happiness to be enabled to state that he has sufficient property to secure the comfort, and Independence of his said children" and it shall "be the pleasure & interest of your petitioner to maintain them decently & to make them useful members of Society."

PAR Number 11382703

State: South Carolina Year: 1827
Location: Barnwell Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: David Martin represents "that from causes unnecessary to detail, he is the Father of two colored female children, to whom he wishes to give his property both Real and personal, for them and their issue to enjoy." He therefore prays that an act be passed "manumitting his said two children, viz Eliza Martin, born 1812 and Martha Martin born 1817."

PAR Number 11382704

State: South Carolina Year: 1827
Location: Barnwell Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: David Martin represents "that from causes unnecessary to detail, he is the Father of two colored female children, to whom he wishes to give his property both Real and personal, for them and their issue to enjoy." He therefore prays that an act be passed "manumitting his said two children, viz Eliza Martin, born 1812 and Martha Martin born 1817."

PAR Number 11383013

State: South Carolina Year: 1830
Location: York Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Jeremiah Dickey, a free man of color who purchased his freedom, states that during his time as a slave, he had married a mulatto woman, the slave of Robert Manning. Before their marriage, his wife "was delivered of a female child--whose father was a white man." Dickey states that he purchased Jincey from her owner and now seeks to emancipate her. He therefore prays that he be permitted to free his sixteen-year-old step-daughter "under the name Jensey Dickey."

PAR Number 11383702

State: South Carolina Year: 1837
Location: Barnwell Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: William Dunn asks to emancipate a twelve-year-old slave, William, whose mother is "light yellow" and whose father is white. Dunn declares that said child is "so very white and of so good a complexion, as not to create even a suspicion on the mind of the most critical observer" that he is a person of color. He further avers that the said William "has in his raising been kept, thus far, separate and apart, from the Society of coloured people, and has, consequently not imbibed any of the principles or habits peculiar to them." The petitioner insists that "it is inconsistent, with [his] feelings ... to retain in slavery, a person, who approximates, so closely in identity of colour, habits and appearance to that of the white man." He therefore prays that an act be passed "granting your petitioner leave and authorizing him to emancipate the said little Boy William with permission for him to remain in the State."

PAR Number 11383906

State: South Carolina Year: 1839
Location: Edgefield Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Eight residents of Edgefield District request a refund of "Capitation or poll tax imposed on free persons of Colour, for the sum of Eight dollars each." The petitioners note that "the Chavis & Jones families are free persons of colour being descendants of Indian Ancestors; the other two, to wit Jonathan Williams and Polly Dunn are free coloured persons alleged to be descended from, or mixed with the blood of the Negro race." In addition, the said Polly "is only Sixteen years of age, and Bartly Jones is only Seventeen years old." They therefore "unite in praying that the back tax as it called may be refunded."

PAR Number 11384706

State: South Carolina Year: 1847
Location: Barnwell Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Marmaduke Jones requests a divorce or annulment of his marriage to Ann Ross Jones on the grounds that she gave birth to a "mulatto" child. Marmaduke maintains that the couple married on 13 January 1847 and that on 24 August 1847 his wife "was brought to bed, and then and there delivered of a mulatto child." The petitioner, "well knowing (under the circumstances above set forth) that it is impossible for [him] to live with the said Ann, as husband and wife," therefore prays that he "may be released from the said Ann and that [he] and the said Ann may stand in the same relation to Each other, as though they never had been married."

PAR Number 11385007

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

Abstract: Fifty-four-year-old free mulatto William Jackson, who had lived in the area his entire life, asks to free his wife Lucinda, "a slave though three degrees removed from the African race," and his six children: Susan, Martha, Mary, Berryman, Margaret, and Hosea.

PAR Number 11385912

State: South Carolina Year: 1859
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: The mulatto children of the late Philip Stanislas Noisette, a white botanist who died in 1835, ask to remain in South Carolina as free persons of color. They state that their father freed them in his will and that "the provisions of this will are perfectly legal, and that there is no question about their freedom, but that they might be required to emigrate." Citing that they were born in the state, the petitioners assert that they "are very unwilling to remove." They further point out that "those who have the public interest most at heart would recognize the propriety of an exception in their behalf that would permit them to remain where they are." The petitioners therefore pray that "they and their issue may be permitted to remain in the State in the condition of free persons of color."

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