Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 10383701

State: Delaware Year: 1837
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: Thirty-two citizens of Sussex County seek the repeal of a Delaware law of 1827 prohibiting the exportation of slaves to any other state or territory. The petitioners complain that the law had "a most powerful tendency to render Slaves disobedient and Consequently far less useful and valuable to their owners than they would otherwise be, leading at the same time to the exportation of many Slaves contrary to this law and to many and indeed to a great portion of the frequent Cases of Kidnapping with which Your Courts of Justice are so often resorted to in vain for redress by the enforcement of this law."

PAR Number 11000021

State: Mississippi

Abstract: South Carolina resident William H. Taylor is the uncle and guardian of Thomas, Frances, and William Taylor, minor heirs to an estate "consisting chiefly of negroes." The minors live in South Carolina, but the slaves are in Warren County, Mississippi. Taylor states that he finds it finds it difficult to manage the slaves and hire a suitable overseer from such a distance. He asks the legislature for permission to transport the slaves to South Carolina.

PAR Number 11083106

State: Mississippi Year: 1831
Location: Adams Location Type: County

Abstract: Upon the death of her half-brother, Jane Randolph, an infant, inherited forty slaves and about 460 acres of land. Her father and guardian, R. C. Randolph of Natchez, asks permission to sell the property because he does not have time to manage the slaves properly. Rather, he would prefer to sell the land and slaves at one-third cash, the balance on credit of one or two years with interest, and invest in bank stock.

PAR Number 11085926

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

Abstract: Thomas Boone, guardian of the minor Sallie Knox, sold a slave belonging to his ward for $1,750 in the state of Alabama. He was motivated to do so because the slave had a wife and refused to move to Mississippi with him. Furthermore, Boone claims, the slave was of bad character, could read and write, and used his skills to forge and order and procure the money. Having been informed that the sale was illegal because of his failure to seek permission from the Carroll County Court, Boone asks the legislature to pass an act to confirm and ratify the sale.

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 11379303

State: South Carolina Year: 1793
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: "In behalf of the Whole," eight members of "The Society of Master Coopers of Charleston" express frustration at the "inattention" given by authorities to the law passed 10 May 1740 and revived 12 March 1783 regarding the management of slaves within the state. "[A]t present as well as for considerable Time past," they observe, "the Slaves of Charleston have been privileged (although illegally) to sell traffick and barter, as well as to carry on different Trades and Occupations (free from the Direction or Superintendence of any white Person whatever." They further declare that the black mechanics and tradesmen work "to their own Emolument and the great and manifest Injury of the mechanical part of the Community, selling their Commodities and working at their Trades much lower and at much cheaper Rates, than those persons who are privileged by their Citizenship." The petitioners believe such "Privileges encourage Negroes in Stealing as well as destroy that Subordination which the Situation of this State requires from the Slave towards his master and all other Citizens." The white coopers ask for an act of incorporation, with "Privileges and Rights as are usually granted in such Cases."

PAR Number 11379309

State: South Carolina Year: 1793
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: "In behalf of the whole," eight members of "The Society of Master Coopers of Charleston" express frustration at the "inattention" given by authorities to the law passed 10 May 1740 and revived 12 March 1783 regarding the management of slaves within the state. "[A]t present as well as for considerable Time past," they observe, "the Slaves of Charleston have been privileged (although illegally) to sell traffick and barter, as well as to carry on different Trades and Occupations (free from the Direction or Superintendance of any white Person whatever." They further declare that the black mechanics and tradesmen work "to their own Emolument, and the great and manifest Injury of the mechanical Part of the Community, selling their commodities and working at their Trades much lower, and at much cheaper Rates, than those Persons who are privileged by their Citizenship." The petitioners believe such "privileges encourage Negroes in Stealing as well as destroy that Subordination which the Situation of this State requires from the Slave towards his master and all other Citizens." The white coopers ask for an act of incorporation, with "privileges and Rights as are usually granted in such Cases."

PAR Number 11381613

State: South Carolina Year: 1816
Location: Beaufort Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Ninety-one citizens of Beaufort District consider themselves "considerably aggrieved from the want of a Law by means of which the Slaves of this district could be restrained from the mischievous practice of killing up the stock and otherwise injuring the people and well disposed citizens of this district." The petitioners note that, between June and October, many planters and overseers in the region leave their plantations and journey to healthier climes; as a result, slaves kill livestock and steal staple crops with impunity, and "the greater part of the inhabitants especially on the Sea Coast are materially injured." Citing that an 1812 law imposes a penalty on planters with at least thirty slaves who leave them unsupervised, the residents purport that said law "is almost invariably disregarded." They therefore seek a law imposing severe penalties on slave owners who do not reside on their plantations or who do not "keep some white person" on their plantations throughout a given year.

PAR Number 11382305

State: South Carolina Year: 1823

Abstract: "The petition of the President and members of the Black Swamp Association" state that they associated themselves "for the purpose of enforceing the laws of this State, against the violators thereof; and for the better governing and managing negroes and other persons of colour, in conformity to a similar association established in Charleston, for a similar purpose." They note that they "have adopted a Constitution, Elected Officers, and made such other regulations as are necessary to carry into effect the objects of the said Institution." The petitioners therefore pray that an act be passed "to incorporate them."

PAR Number 11482110

State: Tennessee Year: 1821
Location: Carter Location Type: County

Abstract: Mary Humphreys represents that she and her husband Jesse "have amassed a considerable property, consisting of farms, mill & stock of Negro's as well as the stock usually belonging to those engaged in Agricultural persuits." She laments, however, that "about four Years ago said Jesse, was seized with a melancholy state of mind, & began to neglect managing his affairs"; his condition is such that "she has caused him to be restrained from going thro the neighbourhood." The petitioner also fears that Jesse's relatives "are Hungry expectants of enjoying a share of his estate not contented to wait their Brothers decease." She therefore "prays Your Honorable body to pass a Law, appointing Your Petitioner Guardian of afsd Jesse, untill he is restored to his sences, or as long as the same may be necessary."

PAR Number 11483110

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

Abstract: Austin Gresham, administrator of the estate of Henry A. Burge and the husband of Burge's widow, asks to sell an eleven-year-old slave named Nathan. Grisham declares that "for three or four years back, this boy, Nathan, has been in the constant habit of running away: that he has employed all the means he could, himself, devise, to prevent it; that he has obtained the aid of other experienced persons to the same object, but has failed in every expedient" and that "the habit is increasing." Gresham therefore prays "that you would pass a law directing him the sd negro boy Nathan to be sold."

PAR Number 11485103

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

Abstract: Two hundred sixty-five residents of Rutherford County deplore the "great evils growing out of the residence of the free colored population in our midst." The petitioners insist that free people of color "not only infest our town, but are scattered over our entire County" and that they "are generally indolent and manifest no disposition to labor for a living, but by thieving themselves and holding out inducements to our Slaves, to trade with them, induce them to steal every thing that comes in their way, which renders them less valuable and more ungovernable." They therefore "humbly, but earnestly ask you in your wisdom to take an extended view of this important subject, and apply whatever remedy you may deem necessary."

PAR Number 11681526

State: Virginia Year: 1815
Location: Nansemond Location Type: County

Abstract: In his will John Yeates bequeathed "Sundry Slaves towards the Support of two free schools." Citizens of the county now claim, however that the slaves, however, have become "a total expense." Some are sick with "Afflictions," others have young children, some of the men are disorderly, absconding part of the year, and still others refuse to hire out to certain employers. Residents ask that the Board of Trustees for the schools be permitted to sell the slaves at their discretion.

PAR Number 11682510

State: Virginia Year: 1825
Location: Russell Location Type: County

Abstract: Robert Dickeson petitions to deny Moses, a slave previously owned by his late father, residency in Virginia. He represents that said Moses was devised to his brother, who executed "a deed of emancipation for pecuniary consideration." He further points out that for many years Moses "carried on a continual traffic on his own account." The petitioner further asserts that he "has strong reason to suspect & believes [Moses] acted dishonestly in several instances." He cites that in "one instance your petitioners father was robbed of $1000 by his own slaves ... [and] he suspects the slave Moses to have participated"; in addition, Moses's son was "in the habit of purloining" poultry and other items. Averring that "the said Moses has abundant means to enable him to remove to some other state," the petitioner prays "that your Honorable Body will not sustain the petition of Moses, but that he may in due time be required to depart the Commonwealth."

PAR Number 11682807

State: Virginia Year: 1828
Location: Richmond Location Type: City

Abstract: Hetty Jacobs, the widow of Solomon Jacobs, joins the guardian of her three infant children and the administrator of her late husband's estate to request that the eleven slaves belonging to said estate be sold "and the proceeds vested in Bank or Government stock to be held for the benefit of the widow & children." They aver that said slaves consist "exclusively of women & children who are not only wholly unproductive, but if not sold, must become a charge to the estate." Declaring the conduct of said slaves to be “very insolent and every way objectionable," the petitioners therefore pray that a law be passed "authorising the sale of the said slaves."

PAR Number 11682901

State: Virginia Year: 1829
Location: Richmond Location Type: City

Abstract: Hetty Jacobs, the widow of Solomon Jacobs, joins the guardian of her three infant children and the administrator of her late husband's estate to request that the eleven slaves belonging to said estate be sold "and the proceeds vested in Bank or Government Stock, to be held for the benefit of the widow and children." They aver that said slaves consist "exclusively of women and children, who were not only wholly unprofitable, but if not sold would become a charge to the estate." Declaring the conduct of said slaves to be “very insolent and every way objectionable," the petitioners therefore pray that a law be passed "authorizing the sale of the said slaves."

PAR Number 11683002

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

Abstract: When her husband died in 1829, Martha Powell was left with six small children under the age of thirteen, and a short time later she gave birth to twin daughters. With little means of support except a worn out farm, eleven slaves, and a small interest in her deceased husband's firm, she seeks permission to sell the land and move her family and slaves to Alabama to be near two brothers who would assist her in buying farm land. She is "unskilled in the management of Land and Negroes," she admits, and needs her brothers' assistance.

PAR Number 11683213

State: Virginia Year: 1832
Location: Hanover Location Type: County

Abstract: Forty-six "inhabitants & Freeholders of the County of Hanover" react "with concern and astonishment" to the "doctrines [that] have been advocated & published to the world, and questions debated from day to day which fill the whole community with alarm." Deploring that "the right to property amounting to one hundred millions of dollars has been questioned," the petitioners report that "it has been said that no abolition will be attempted unless full compensation be made to the owners of the slaves"; they strongly retort that "this notion of compensation is the most extraordinary that ever entered into the mind of man. Whence is the compensation to proceed? From the state. The state is the people." This, they assert, would mean that "the slaveholders then are to pay themselves for their own slaves." The petitioners purport that "slaves while kept in subjection are submissive and easily controlled, but let any number of them be indulged with the hope of freedom ... that they reject constraint and become almost wholly unmanageable." They further decry that "it is the expectation of liberty, & by that alone, that they can be rendered a dangerous population." Of the opinion that "our slaves are a cheerful & contented race strongly attached to their owners," the petitioners therefore urge the legislature "to abstain from every attempt to provide for the emancipation of the slaves partial or general, immediate or prospective in any manner whatsoever."

PAR Number 11683514

State: Virginia Year: 1835
Location: Brunswick Location Type: County

Abstract: James Haskins's uncle, John Haskins Sr., is insane. His estate consists of a 1046-acre tract of land, thirteen male slaves ages seventeen to fifty, fourteen female slaves ages sixteen to sixty, and eleven slave children ages one to eight. The slaves are unproductive, difficult to manage, and a "nuisance to the neighbourhood." John Haskins, representing a group of relatives, asks that the land and slaves--except the uncle's personal body servant Tom--be sold and the proceeds, perhaps $20,000, be invested at 5 percent, which would be more than enough to maintain his uncle comfortably.

PAR Number 20182701

State: Alabama Year: 1827
Location: Autauga Location Type: County

Abstract: Peter Wyatt purchased "a negro man slave named David" from Moses Greer in July 1822, in exchange for a note for $551.02, from his brother William Wyatt, along with a horse, saddle and bridle valued at $100. The petitioner states that he "had said negro only a few days before he ran away stole some property and in attempting to escape was shot at and hit -- after apprehension in a very few days he again ran away -- And again in the same manner a third time." The petitioner states that "he did not get more than about one weeks service from said negro in consequence of his running away." During David's third attempt at absconding, he committed a robbery and "was taken up, tried & hanged for the crime in May or June 1823." In the petitioner's mind, the slave's death "is fairly and alone attributable to his bad character," and he states that David "was sent or run from the State of Georgia on account of his bad character and that this was known to Greer previous to sale." In addition, the petitioner discloses that Moses Campbell has sued Greer for payment of the note tendered in the purchase of David and Campbell received from the court an $861 judgment, which remains unpaid. The petitioner charges that Greer and Campbell are attempting to defraud him and he asks the court to enjoin them from collecting the debt, and enjoin his brother, William, from paying it, until the court can hear the case. Wyatt, noting that "he has never received one cent compensation for the loss of the negro," also seeks said compensation along with a $100 reimbursement of the court costs of defending David's robbery charge.

PAR Number 20184310

State: Alabama Year: 1843
Location: Barbour Location Type: County

Abstract: George Gunn seeks resolution of a dispute involving payment of a debt and seizure of his property. In March 1843, Gunn purchased "some lands and negroes" from Elisha Betts. Part of the agreement stipulated that Gunn make payments on various debts incurred by Betts. He assures the court that he complied with these conditions. However, he reports, portions of his property have nevertheless been levied by creditors of Betts even though said judgments were obtained subsequent to his purchase of the property. Since Betts, his creditor, and the sheriff intend to "attempt to force said property of your Orator to sale in satisfaction of the debts of Respondent Betts, fraudulently with a full knowledge of the purchase of your Orator," Gunn prays to the court that said proceedings be enjoined and restrained.

PAR Number 20184622

State: Alabama Year: 1846
Location: Barbour Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1805, Martha Walton of Prince Edward County, Virginia, conveyed in trust to her granddaughter Martha Williams and her children, a nine-year-old slave child named Nancy Dean and her future increase; in 1806, Thomas Scott conveyed to Martha and her children a ten-year-old child named Cloe, and their future increase. In 1807, General Thomas Glasscock of Richmond County, Georgia, conveyed to Martha and her children nine slaves, including Rose and her children Ben, Lizza, and Bob, and Jim and his wife Jenny and her children George, Anny, and Jim; and in 1807, James Gresham of Wilkes County, Georgia, conveyed to the same three more slaves. Martha and Zachariah had three children: Robert, Blanche, and Mary, who stood to inherit the slaves at Martha's death, but many years after Martha had died and Zachariah had remarried, the father maintained control over the slaves. In 1827, the children--Robert W. Williams, Blanche Gibson, and Mary W. Evans--conveyed to their father all of the slaves with their increase they had inherited from their mother. By then the slaves numbered "upwards of thirty." In 1837, Zachariah Williams moved from Richmond County, Georgia, to Barbour County, Alabama, where he died in 1840, leaving as heirs children from his first marriage and also children from his second marriage. Now Mary W. Williams Evans and her husband are suing Zachariah's widow, Sarah, and the children from the second marriage, including Zachariah, Evelina W. Dobbins, and Gazaway D. Williams. Mary Evans seeks a portion of the slave property, and compensation equal to the hire of slaves purchased by Zechariah "out of the trust funds in his hands."

PAR Number 20184702

State: Alabama Year: 1847
Location: Mobile Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1843, Arnett W. Harrell placed five slaves in trust with Augustus Brooks for the children of the late John F. Everitt. The gift was made "in consideration of the friendship and kindness" Arnett "had experienced at the hands of" John Everitt during his lifetime. The trust also contained real estate and the trustee was instructed to "husband said property for the sole use and benefit" of the children, John Fannin Everitt and his siblings, Margaret, Helen, and Fanny. In 1844, his widow, Ann B. Everitt, died leaving a separate estate, including Slade's Plantation in Washington County and ten slaves. When Brooks resigned and John Rolston was appointed trustee. Now John Fannin Everitt explains that the estate "is not sufficient to maintain and educate him and his sisters in a proper and respectable Manner." He asks that Rolston be removed from his "office of guardian & trustee," that the estate be divided among the minor heirs, and that guardians be appointed for each of them. John Fannin Everitt points out that the slaves are badly managed and, as a result, are insubordinate, and addicted to running away and intemperance.

PAR Number 20184708

State: Alabama Year: 1847
Location: Dallas Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1844, Randal Duckworth created a trust estate of slaves for his daughter Delphia Butler of Lowndes County, Mississippi, for her use and benefit during her lifetime, and he stipulated that at her death the slaves should go to her daughter, Jeffilony H. Butler. Jeremiah Duckworth was appointed trustee. The slaves included Henry, about fifty-five, Nelly, fifty, Elizabeth, twenty-six, Wilks, twenty-two, and Tom, ten. The slaves were immediately placed and have remained in the possession of Delphia who lives in Mississippi with her husband, James Butler. Jeremiah Duckworth now asks to be relieved of his duties as trustee. He explains that it "would be inequitable an unjust for him to be compelled to continue [to] act as trustee" when he lives in a different state and does not have "control or management of said Property."

PAR Number 20184710

State: Alabama Year: 1847
Location: Clarke Location Type: County

Abstract: By 1836, Clarke County slave owner William Matheson had acquired a sizable estate: a saw and grist mill on the Alabama River, a "great quantity" of wood to supply steamboats, bank bills from various states, bank stock in the Planters and Merchants Bank of Mobile, and "many slaves." In his 1836 will, he bequeathed a slave girl Phillis to his daughter Mariah, and a legacy of thirty thousand dollars to Mariah and his two other daughters, Flora McCaskey Matheson and Caladonia Matheson. He directed that beginning in 1832 Mariah should receive one thousand dollars a year for ten years when she would reach age twenty-one. This was to be paid out of his estate by his executors who were directed to keep the mills and plantation in operation. Following Matheson's death, John Murphy and John Darrington became administrators. But Mariah, a minor, did not receive her bequests. In 1847, she and her husband seek damages from Darrington (Murphy had died), including the original bequests from her father and profits from wood sales and cotton production during the 1830s and early 1840s.

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