Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 10380101

State: Delaware Year: 1801

Abstract: Three hundred and sixty-six residents 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 strengths." 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 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 10381822

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 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 Possible."

PAR Number 10385201

State: Delaware Year: 1852
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Jonathan Bewley, with five additional petitioners, represents that in 1850 "some evil disposed person or persons in one of the most public streets of Smyrna kidnapped and took into the State of Maryland a Small black boy the property of M James Bewley." They state that the slaveholder offered a reward for the return of his property and that one of the kidnappers was arrested and jailed in Dover; the second, following a request from the governor of Delaware, was arrested in Maryland but broke out of jail and later died. The petitioners "now ask the Legislature to remunerate Mr Bewley for the expense he has incurred."

PAR Number 11081303

State: Mississippi Year: 1813
Location: Hancock Location Type: County

Abstract: Hancock County sheriff Amos Burnet seeks $99.05 in reimbursement for transporting William Smith, arrested for stealing a slave, from Hancock to Claiborne County as ordered in a writ of habeas corpus issued by Judge Walter Leake.

PAR Number 11081502

State: Mississippi Year: 1815
Location: Franklin Location Type: County

Abstract: In June 1812, Solomon Whitley traded with Isaac Waters for a female house servant named Hannah. A few months later, Whitley accused Waters of stealing Hannah, and Waters was jailed in Franklin County. Because of an "insufficient" jail, the accused was transferred to Jefferson County, where he posted a $500 bond using two slaves as security. This, according to Whitley, gave him a chance "to make his escape with your petitioners Negro," while the two slaves were turned over to the territorial government. Whitley complained that he was the only one hurt by the theft and that his wife was weak and unable to do "domestic labor which she has been oblidge to do since Walters have deprived her of her help." He asks for relief.

PAR Number 11082601

State: Mississippi Year: 1826
Location: Adams Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1818, a slave named John was stolen from Samuel Martin by Philo Andrews, a resident in the town of Washington. Andrews was arrested, put up a $2,000 bond, and then fled prosecution. The bond went into the State Treasury. Martin estimated his loss at $900 plus an estimated $504 in interest (8 percent for eight years), and $100 in expenses, including travel to court and to present the petition to the legislature. In all, he sought a total of $1,500 in compensation.

PAR Number 11082702

State: Mississippi Year: 1827
Location: Amite Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1825, William Norman and James Hill were witnesses for the state against John H. Watson, accused of "negro stealing." Watson was found guilty but gained a retrial and then broke out of jail and escaped. The two witnesses seek reimbursement for the expenses. There was no law, they said, "under which the Auditor can Audit our Claims."

PAR Number 11085703

State: Mississippi Year: 1857
Location: Oktibbeha Location Type: County

Abstract: William Bell requests compensation for expenses incurred during the prosecution of J. J. Rainwater, convicted of "trafficing & bartering with slaves." Rainwater was "a dangerous man in a slave community," inducing slaves to steal from their owners. One of Bell's slaves, for example, stole $260 from him and took the money to Rainwater, who "appropriated it to his own use." Bell retained attorneys and paid their fees. When a criminal indictment was handed down, Rainwater fled to parts unknown, forfeiting $500 in securities. Bell seeks a portion of the forfeiture.

PAR Number 11278101

State: North Carolina Year: 1781

Abstract: Taken prisoner by the British in March 1781, Thomas Cabeen of Crosscreek represents that he was released as a "prisoner on parole." When he returned "after the departure of the British," Cabeen states that he discovered "that the greater part of his negroes had gone off with them." He recounts that later, while away from his house attending to business, two county officials "had been at his house, & feloniously carried away your Petitioners negro wench" and insinuated that he "was taking part with the British." The petitioner prays "that upon deliberation you will be pleased to order his property to be restored."

PAR Number 11278201

State: North Carolina Year: 1782
Location: Orange Location Type: County

Abstract: Martha Thompson accuses Col. John Hinton Jr. of seizing "three negroes the property of Amous Thompson (then Husband of your Petitioner)." She further cites "that Since the taking the sd negroes into Possession they have been sold at Public Sale to Satisfy a Judgement which Col. John Hinton recovered in Wake Court against your Petitioners Husband." Arguing that "there was no Dealings ... ever between them," Thompson prays that these facts "set forth" by her "may be Enquired into by your Honble Body."

PAR Number 11278202

State: North Carolina Year: 1782
Location: Hertford Location Type: County

Abstract: Joseph Benthall, guardian of Susanna Benthall, requests that Joseph Wood, a justice of the peace in Northampton County, be removed from office. Benthall explains that his ward's "Negro Wench named Hagar had been secretly conveyed out of the County near four years ago" and that he searched and found her, now with a child, in Edgecomb County and took her to Northampton. He charges that "James Knight with a general Warrant Signed by Joseph Wood ... did by Violence sieze & carry the said Negroes away, barbarously wounding" Benthall's brother in the process. The petitioner recounts that he questioned Wood's authority, whereupon “Wood ordered your Petitioner to be confined in Hallifax Jail ... to be tryed as he said for Negro Stealing." Benthall, "on behalf of the good Citizens of this State," prays that the legislature may "direct the said Wood to be removed from his Magisterial Seat & be forever disabled from holding a Commission as a Justice of the Peace in future."

PAR Number 11279801

State: North Carolina Year: 1798
Location: Halifax Location Type: County

Abstract: Randal Parks seeks a reprieve from the death sentence imposed upon him "for stealing Negroes as the laws in this case direct." Currently "in Jail in the Town of Halifax," Parks "begs leave to represent ... that a petition was drawn and signed by a number of respectible Persons in the Town and County of Halifax praying his Excellency the Governor to pardon him from the execution of the sentence." Now being advised to seek a pardon from the General Assembly, Parks prays "that a pardon may be issued relieving him from the agonies of death, when it is likewise the request of many of those who are acquainted with him."

PAR Number 11279813

State: North Carolina Year: 1798
Location: Halifax Location Type: County

Abstract: Sixty-nine citizens seek clemency for Randal Parks, "a very young man" convicted "of stealing negroes" and condemned to death for said crime. They aver that Parks "sometime ago removed into this state from Virginia and from the neighbourhood and protection of a very respectable family," whereby he was "not only deprived of their advice and example, but was also exposed to the company of evil disposed persons by which means the said Randal owing to his youth, easy temper and complying disposition was induced to engage in the crime for which he now stands convicted." They therefore pray "your Excellency to grant him a pardon.”

PAR Number 11280003

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

Abstract: William Moore requests compensation for the loss of a horse that died during a pursuit of outlaws. He explains that, "from a wish to suppress Villiany," he participated in the apprehension and jailing of "men of notorious Characters" who were later convicted of "forgery & Stealin of Negros and Selling them." Moore further reveals that his "excessive rideing & great exertions ... killed or at least Occationed the death of a valuable Horse" that cost him $210; said loss forced him to mortgage his "One negroe and he a very Valuable fellow." As a cripple, Moore claims that he is "altogether Unable to work" and support his "very large & helpless family of small children." He therefore requests that he receive "such an allowance from the public of said State as may be Adequate to his losses."

PAR Number 11280503

State: North Carolina Year: 1805
Location: Wayne Location Type: County

Abstract: One hundred forty-one "Sundry Inhabitance of Wayne County" report that, in 1804, Willis Bryan "was Charged with takeing a Certain Small negro the property of john king ... and Carying the sd. small negro out of the sd. County and selling it, which proceeding Caused the sd. Bryan to absent himself from the state." They aver that "previous to this accident" Bryan "supported an Honest Character otherwise than he was Very Subject to Intoxication by the Excessive use of spirits." Revealing that "the Negro aforsd has since been Recovered and Returned by his family to its proper owner," the petitioners pray that "an act of pardon" be passed permitting the said Bryan "to Return to the bosom of his Distressed family in Safety."

PAR Number 11280509

State: North Carolina Year: 1805
Location: Orange Location Type: County

Abstract: Johnston Craig and William Blackwood request compensation for the expenses incurred in traveling to testify at the trial of John Perry, a man "confined in Goal in the District of Edenton ... under a charge of stealing a negroe Boy and horse." They report that the said Perry "broke Goal and made his escape" the day before they arrived in Winsor. The men therefore pray the "Treasurer be directed to pay to them such sums of money as may appear to your Honorable body to be adequate to their trouble and expence in traveling four hundred miles at the Instance of the state of North Carolina."

PAR Number 11281404

State: North Carolina Year: 1814
Location: Gates Location Type: County

Abstract: Samuel Green Jr. and Nathaniel Green argue that they were convicted of hog stealing "by the Oath of one Abraham Green." The petitioners aver "that we were innocent of the Crimes with which were Charged" and that the said Abraham Green "stood Charged at the Same Court with Stealing negroes, and one or two days after, tried and Convicted & Sentenced to be hang’d, but obtain’d a reprieve." They therefore request that a law be passed “restoring your petitioners to Citizenship” as the "character of the said Abraham Green by whose oath we were convicted" may be considered "amiss."

PAR Number 11284207

State: North Carolina Year: 1842
Location: Henderson Location Type: County

Abstract: One hundred and fifty Henderson County residents petition the governor to extend leniency to Rev. Robert Jourdan, "the unfortunate Father" of Benjamin Jourdan. They represent that the said Benjamin was arrested "uppon a Charge of Negro-Stealing" and that Rev. Jourdan, "by the natural Impulse of a Fathers Cimpathy & with a flattering hope that his son would prove himself Clear of the Charge became surety for the appearance of the sd accused, after which he absconded." They report that the said Robert received a $1000-judgment "as a forfeiture uppon the appearance Bond also the further sum of five Hundred Dollars to be Paid to the owner of the Absconded or stolen Negroes." Noting that, "as a Citizen & as a Minister of the Gospel," Robert Jourdan "is no offender but the victim of an offender." They therefore pray "your excellency if Consistent with a sence of duty ..., to Remit the aforesaid forfeiture."

PAR Number 11378309

State: South Carolina Year: 1783
Location: All Saints Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: In May 1779, Samuel Hasford and several other residents of All Saints Waccamaw were "robbed of a number of their negroes, by a party of the British." The British took the slaves aboard a ship bound for a British port, but two American ships from Massachusetts captured the ship and the slaves; the slaves were carried to Boston. Hasford and several other owners fitted out a vessel "at a considerable Expense" and journeyed to the North to retrieve their slaves but were unable to do so because under the laws of Massachusetts the slaves were entitled to their freedom. The petitioner argues "that such Proceedings on the part of the said supreme Court of Massachusetts Bay are contrary to the Spirit, and Subversive of the Intention and meaning of the Articles of the Confederation." Furthermore, such actions "are highly detrimental to the property of the Inhabitants of this State, and if acceded to ... will inevitably tend to the certain ruin and annihilation of the planting-Interest, by holding out a Temptation to the Slaves, to take refuge in the State of Massachusetts Bay, where they will remain secure in their Liberty." Hasford prays for "such relief as to your Honourable House shall seem just, and Expedient."

PAR Number 11379306

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

Abstract: Joannah Boylstone and her son, George Boylstone, administrators of the estate of William Boylstone, seek compensation for a "Negro Wench" named Rachel worth about seventy-five pounds. Rachel, the petitioners contend, was "forcibly taken & carried off by an armed party of Troops under the command of Genl. Sumter"; William Boylstone "supposed her to have run away or been stolen." In 1790, learning she was held by Major John Davidson in North Carolina, Boylstone brought suit. At the trial in September 1791, the evidence revealed that Rachel had been taken up by troops under the command of Colonel Henry Hampton of Sumter's Brigade and then turned over to Thomas Williams, a soldier in the brigade, as payment for his services (eighty-six pounds sterling) during the war. It was ruled that according to the laws of North and South Carolina owners of slaves taken up as payment to Revolutionary soldiers should apply to their respective legislatures for relief, whereby Boylstone lost his case after considerable expense. The petitioner further lament that, by the time this occurred, the South Carolina Auditor's Office no longer accepted claims for such property. The petitioners, as the widow and orphan of said deceased, confide that they are both "in very indigent circumstances" and that "they are without Remedy except from the Justice of the General Assembly” as they have not recovered "any satisfaction for his said Negro taken and appropriated as aforesaid in payment of one of the just Debts of this State."

PAR Number 11379308

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

Abstract: Joannah Boylstone and her son, George Boylstone, administrators of the estate of William Boylstone, seek compensation for a "Negro Wench" named Rachel worth about seventy-five pounds. Rachel, the petitioners contend, was "forcibly taken & carried off by an armed party of Troops under the command of Genl. Sumter"; William Boylstone "supposed her to have run away or been stolen." In 1790, learning she was held by Major John Davidson in North Carolina, Boylstone brought suit. At the trial in September 1791, the evidence revealed that Rachel had been taken up by troops under the command of Colonel Henry Hampton of Sumter's Brigade and then turned over to Thomas Williams, a soldier in the brigade, as payment for his services (eighty-six pounds sterling) during the war. It was ruled that according to the laws of North and South Carolina owners of slaves taken up as payment to Revolutionary soldiers should apply to their respective legislatures for relief, whereby Boylstone lost his case after considerable expense. The petitioner further lament that, by the time this occurred, the South Carolina Auditor's Office no longer accepted claims for such property. The petitioners, as the widow and orphan of said deceased, confide that they are both "in very indigent circumstances" and that "they are without Remedy except from the Justice of the General Assembly” as they have not recovered "any satisfaction for his said Negro taken and appropriated as aforesaid in payment of one of the just Debts of this State."

PAR Number 11379406

State: South Carolina Year: 1794
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Elizabeth Deveaux states that, in 1782, “when the City of Charleston was a British Garrison Some Americans unknown took a Boat & three negroes, the Property of your Petitioner, coming from Wando Plantation, to the City, with a few Necessaries for Family Use, & carried them to General Marion’s Camp at Watboo Bridge.” She further asserts that said property was sold “upon a Supposition of having violated Governor [John] Mathew's Proclamation." Deveaux declares that she “has been deprived of any Satisfaction or Compensation for the same to the great Injury of her & a large Family in Distress.” She therefore “humbly prays such Relief as in your Humanity you will please to Grant.”

PAR Number 11379407

State: South Carolina Year: 1794
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Elizabeth Deveaux states that in 1782 “when the City of Charleston was a British Garrison Some Americans unknown took a Boat & three Negroes, the Property of your Petitioner, coming from Wando Plantation to the City, with a few Necessaries for Family Use, & carried them to General Marion’s Camp at Watboo Bridge.” She further asserts that said property was sold “upon a Supposition of having violated Governor [John] Mathew's Proclamation." Deveaux declares that she “has been deprived of any satisfaction or compensation for the Same To the great Injury of her & a large Family in Distress.” She therefore “humbly prays such Relief as in your Humanity you will please to Grant.”

PAR Number 11380301

State: South Carolina Year: 1803
Location: Kershaw Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Joshua Dinkins, "now aged and infirm," seeks compensation for "two very Valuable Negroe Slaves," taken and "carried away" by the "Rebel Colonel James Cary." Dinkins declares that there "are now in the district of Kershaw nine Slaves who were the property of the said James Cary and subject to ... the confiscation Act." He therefore prays that "your hon body to make him a reasonable recompense" from "the said nine Slaves which were the property of the said James Cary and not disposed of by the Authority of the State."

PAR Number 11381101

State: South Carolina Year: 1811
Location: Spartanburg Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Drury Couch, a poor man from Spartanburg District, asks to be reimbursed for the expenses he incurred while testifying at a trial against four men accused of stealing a slave. He reports that he traveled two hundred miles to Charleston in January 1810 and again in June 1811 to testify at the Court of General Sessions, spending a total of thirty-four days in the city. He further asserts that his large family is without support other "than by his personal labours" and that "the sum expended by him in rendering the above services to the state is such that he is not able to spare without prejudice to himself and family." Estimating his costs to be "at least one hundred dollars," Couch prays that he be granted "such provision" as may seem meet.

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